Equinox and SoulCycle face boycott over investor’s Trump fundraiser

SoulCycle says it does not support fundraiser by Stephen Ross, chair of company that owns Equinox

Customers of the fitness companies Equinox and SoulCycle are calling for a boycott of the trendy brands after news that a high-profile billionaire investor will be hosting a fundraising event for Donald Trump in the Hamptons on Friday.

The real estate mogul and private investor Stephen Ross, who is worth nearly $10bn, is scheduled to host a Trump fundraiser at his mansion in Southampton, the Washington Post reported this week.

Tickets for the event cost $100,000 for lunch and a photo opportunity with the president and $250,000 for a package that includes a roundtable discussion with Trump.

Ross, who is also the owner of the NFL team the Miami Dolphins, is the chairman of Related, the company that owns Equinox Fitness, the upmarket gym chain, and other fitness brands.

Equinox has a 97% stake in SoulCycle, acquired in 2011, the boutique fitness brand that just expanded from the US to the UK and has an A-list following for its pricey classes that combine stationary cycling with motivational pep talks from fashionable instructors in rooms lit only with candles and booming au courant playlists from high-class music equipment.

In response to the social media backlash against the event, SoulCycle released a statement addressed To Our Soul Family from its CEO, Melanie Whelan. Whelan said the cycling company has nothing to do with the event and does not support it.

Were committed to all our riders and the communities we live in. Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of SoulCycle.

SoulCycle (@soulcycle)

A note from our CEO pic.twitter.com/UwxBWR76B0

August 7, 2019

The statement echoed a joint statement released by Equinox and SoulCycle on Wednesday. Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of either business, the statement read.

But Twitter users were quick to assert that Ross was more than a passive investor of the companies, furthering calls to quit SoulCycle and Equinox.

Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines)

No way to spin this. Boycott @soulcycle & @Equinox. https://t.co/rpubSqm6ti

August 7, 2019

Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)

Apparently, every time you turn the crank on a SoulCycle the world gets one foot further away from dealing with the climate crisis #BoycottEquinox https://t.co/SRIDvMItY6

August 7, 2019

Celebrities joined in on the chorus of boycotters voicing their anger with the news.

billy eichner (@billyeichner)

Just contacted @Equinox to cancel my membership after many years. Money talks, especially with these monsters. If its 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!

August 7, 2019

The gym is my personal hell but if youre a member of Equinox perhaps it is time to say peace(out)-inox ayyyyy Im still sick yes but fuck equinox, wrote the model and TV host Chrissy Teigen on Twitter. Oh and fuck soulcycle but I thought that way before this anyhow.

Welp. Buh-bye @soulcycle. Wont miss ya! tweeted the actress Sophia Bush.

SoulCycle has a cult following and is primarily located in the United States largest cities, which vote overwhelmingly Democratic. The company itself has tried to tout its liberal values, hosting LGBTQ Pride-themed rides and playlists during Pride Month this past June. Figures including Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey have said they are fans of the company.

Though Ross didnt explicitly endorse Trump as president during his 2016 campaign the billionaire held a fundraiser for the failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush at his Palm Beach mansion in January that year he seemed to be impressed with the presidents skills as a promoter during the election.

In a Bloomberg interview in February 2016, Ross said of Trump: Hes great. He makes people feel good about themselves. If youre spending time with Donald alone, you can not not like Donald.

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