By Ritchie Po
The wildly popular cycle studio concept SoulCycle recently opened their first-ever Vancouver location, in the city's upscale downtown Yaletown neighbourhood. The new studio marks their first on the Canadian west coast and third in Canada, following locations on King Street West and in Yorkville Village, both in Toronto.
Founded in 2006, SoulCycle started life as a small spinning class on New York’s Upper West Side. The studio has become a global chain with over 80 locations in the United States and Canada.
Following its first public offering in 2015, the brand reported a whopping $112 million in revenue. The brand confirms that over 16,000 people take their classes across all studio locations on a daily basis.
SoulCycle is famed for its intensive indoor cycling classes, which combine cycling with choreographic arm movements and hand weights in the same workout. More than a lower-body workout, the brand provides a total body workout combining cardiovascular endurance with resistance training.
Choreography, weight training and speed are timed to an end-to-end mix of music specially chosen by each instructor. Instructors set the mood for each class, choosing and mixing contemporary R&B and dance music with “old skool” hip-hop and soul classics to create an enveloping, total immersion 45-minute workout. (The brand even had a Taylor Swift themed ride class in 2015.) The experience is akin to a fitness class being held in a nightclub, where anytime is Friday midnight. Instructors are supportive, espousing affirmations to inspire riders to reach maximal performance (the writer confirmed the results the morning after his first ride and has never felt better). SoulCycle has a devoted celebrity clientele list, including Oprah, David Beckham, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Jessica Alba, and Lady Gaga, who is said to have taken two of SoulCycle’s signature bicycles with her on her last tour for on-the-road workouts.
The brand, co-founded by Elizabeth Cutler, Julie Rice, and Ruth Zukerman, was acquired by Equinox Fitness but operates independently. With a leadership team which is 86% female, SoulCycle values equity and community highly. All managers and instructors help incoming and outgoing traffic from their studios in hands-on operations, and employees are given paid time off to perform charity and humanitarian work. It is no secret that the company boasts one of the highest employee retention rates in the fitness industry.
The Vancouver location, known as SoulCycle YLTN, is located at 1128 Mainland Street. Measuring 3,518 square feet, the location is housed in the former West Coast Hot Yoga space. The studio is ideally situated amidst some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants, boutiques, coffee bars and luxury apartment complexes. The studio accommodates up to 57 riders per class, and its shop features the brand’s namesake performance and athleisure clothing collections. Facilities include free lockers and showers, and all restrooms are stocked with Saje Natural Wellness products in a limited-time partnership. As with the Toronto King Street location, SoulCycle’s regular beauty products will replace Saje products once the opening is complete. The front-of-studio boutique includes Vancouver-specific SoulCycle YLTN tank tops, cropped tights and tees, as well as the signature grapefruit-scented Jonathan Adler candles that are lit in all classes.
Classes run seven days a week, with the earliest ride starting at 6 a.m. (8:30 a.m. on weekends) and the last evening class at 7:30 p.m. twice a week. The price of the first ride is $20, with a $30 drop-in fee thereafter. Memberships include the premiere “Supersoul 20” 20-class pass priced at $1,000 or the 30-class pass at $780 (both of which expire within one year).
SoulCycle, with its prime location in one of the premiere addresses of arguably one of the world’s fittest cities, should find a large, devoted following in Vancouver for many years to come. Additional locations are currently in development and shall be announced in the near future.
*Editor’s Note: The Vancouver Yaletown SoulCycle lease deal was negotiated by Martin Moriarty and Mario Negris of CBRE in Vancouver. The The Yorkville Village SoulCycle lease deal, as well as the 435 King Street deal (Canada's first), were both negotiated by Hilary Kellar-Parsons and Tyler Sopik of Avison Young in Toronto.