When you first hear that everyone is mad at Equinox and SoulCycle, you assume that it’s because the location they just went to was somehow out of Eucalyptus towels. Unfortunately, this past week has proved that these gyms can be doing much worse than just playing the same Kylie Minogue remixed song 15 times in two hours — their financial success could be indirectly benefitting the president.
This first came to light after it was reported that Stephen Ross, a New York real estate developer and the chairman plus majority owner of The Related Companies was throwing a fundraiser for Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign in the Hamptons tomorrow, where tickets would cost up to $250,000. So like, six spin classes.
What does The Related Companies have to do with these overpriced exercise chains? Well, when you’re an extremely rich man, you start to collect companies like college juniors collected empty alcohol bottles to display in your kitchen — because you have nothing better to do. So basically, The Related Companies is the parent company of Equinox, which has other fitness brands like SoulCycle, Blink Fitness, and PURE Yoga under its wing. Ross also owns the Miami Dolphins.
With Equinox and SoulCycle becoming almost statement pieces in the lives of many young professionals in various cities across the country, you could assume there was some immediate outrage when they saw that the owner of the company they pay hundreds of dollars to a month is potentially pocketing their change and donating it to a candidate — especially a candidate who does nothing to support the communities that these establishments claim to want to lift up (just this past June, Equinox did a Pride campaign called ‘Life’s A Ball’). Almost immediately, the story went viral with both celebrities and everyday members (myself included) calling to ask for a response from the gym. Both brands released statements that basically danced around the greater issue — calling Mr. Ross nothing more than a passive investor. Which, from my crash course MBA degree from watching hours of Shark Tank, what means that he’s not involved in the day-to-day of the business making, but he’s definitely still pocketing some change. On top of that, sure he’s a private investor to Equinox… but that is a brand that is owned by — ding, ding ding, his parent company.
As you could probably assume, this response… didn’t really change too many people’s mind. It was reported that both Equinox and SoulCycle are currently being overwhelmed with calls of members wanting to cancel, on top of a ton of notable celebrities canceling their membership and urging people to do the same. I mean, if you have Chrissy Teigen and the guys from “Queer Eye” against you, do you really stand a chance?
Just contacted @Equinox to cancel my membership after many years. Money talks, especially with these monsters. If it’s too inconvenient for u to trade one LUXURY GYM for another, then you should be ashamed. (No disrespect to the many wonderful employees at my local Equinox). Bye!
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) August 7, 2019
everyone who cancels their equinox and soul cycle memberships, meet me at the library. bring weights
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 7, 2019
— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) August 8, 2019
Ross himself responded to the outrage in a statement to CNN last night:
“I have always been an active participant in the democratic process. … I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions,” he said. “I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education, and environmental sustainability, and I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges.”
Samantha Bonizzi, a spokesperson for Equinox and SoulCycle, reiterated the brands’ social statements in a statement to CNN. “Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians,” she said.
Now the waiting game is: Will Ross cancel his fundraiser tomorrow? Doubtful. Will Equinox find a way to break out from his company? Outlook hazy. Will I have a better chance at finding love at my local Crunch and not Equinox? Here’s hoping.