By Devon Johnson
New York City-based luxury cycling studio and retailer SoulCycle has revealed plans to open two Toronto locations. This marks the first international expansion for the fitness brand, which currently has 66 locations across the United States.
The first Canadian SoulCycle location will be at 435 King Street West (near Spadina Avenue), and is expected to open in March 2017. SoulCycle has also confirmed plans to secure a second location in the city's affluent Yorkville neighbourhood, which is expected to open shortly after.
"Toronto has been a market that has been requested for years. We're very excited to bring SoulCycle to Canada," says Gabby Etrog Cohen, Vice President of Pubic Relations and Brand Strategy for SoulCycle.
SoulCycle's King Street West location is just over 4,000 square feet in size, taking up part of the former Design Within Reach retail space. A majority of the new SoulCycle premises will be dedicated to a 55-bike cycling studio, which is where SoulCycle's signature cycling classes will take place. The location will also boast a retail store and locker room areas for both men and women.
"It’s exciting that SoulCycle is opening its first studio in Canada, in a premier brick and beam building along King Street West – right in the heart of the action in downtown Toronto", said Hilary Kellar-Parsons of brokerage Avison Young, who negotiated the Toronto deal in partnership with Avison Young's Tyler Sopik.
SoulCycle classes incorporate upper body exercises and high-energy music into each class, set in a dark candlelit room. SoulCycle is known for it's cult following of riders, with a loyal clientele including names such as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, David Beckham, Demi Lovato, and Lady Gaga.
SoulCycle offers a pay-as-you-go system rather than a monthly membership model, with each cycling class costing riders $30. Ms. Cohen says there is “absolutely" a market for boutique fitness in Toronto. Although SoulCycle won't be the first premium fitness experience in Toronto, SoulCycle's internal studies have shown high demand for the brand. “[It] has been our number one requested market for years,” says Ms. Cohen.
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SoulCycle also offers a wide range of men and women's athletic wear. The merchandise mix will stay consistent with SoulCycle's American retail locations. Riders will find Toronto-branded SoulCycle gear, mainly in SoulCycle's signature yellow colour. "We try to stay away from anything outside our core colouring,” says Ms. Cohen.
SoulCycle’s in-house team will design interiors for both Toronto locations. All SoulCycle locations are accented by SoulCycle's signature yellow and white colour palette. With a small space that houses both a cycling studio and retail space, Ms. Cohen says the King Street location will "utilize every corner and nook".
SoulCycle recently began recruiting talent for its first location, and is in the process of training new Canadian cycling instructors in New York City. SoulCycle's King Street location is still searching for an Assistant Studio Manager and Front Desk Staff according to SoulCycle's career portal.
SoulCycle was founded by Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice in 2005. The company was acquired by Equinox Holdings Inc. in 2011, which currently operates two Equinox Fitness locations in Toronto, and a Vancouver location opening in late 2016. Equinox Fitness is a subsidiary of The Related Companies. Ms. Cohen says that most SoulCycle locations generally range between 2,500 and 4,000 square feet.
According to the L.A. Times, SoulCycle plans to expand to 250 locations across North America. When asked about expansion plans in Canada, Ms. Cohen says SoulCycle plans for expansion across Canada in other major cities, however the team is still planning. “It’s very important that we listen to [each] local community first”.