SoulCycle in NYTimes – Too Little, Too Late?

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The New York Times has an article detailing SoulCycle’s troubles during COVID-19.

In it, they speak to several customers who used to be SoulCycle addicts – who have now turned to Peloton. SoulCycle has partnered with Variis in order to launch a Peloton-like platform. However, it has been delayed for months, with the first bikes starting to ship in only a few cities in May.

It could have been the battle of the bikes.

If only SoulCycle had been able to get its highly anticipated exercise bike to market in time to meet the demand of its enthusiastic (bordering on obsessive) riders, who because of the coronavirus pandemic have been unable to go to any of the company’s 99 studios, closed since March.

Instead, many turned to Peloton, the at-home cycling company, for their fitness fix. Even the most “ride or die” SoulCycle goers who took hundreds of classes per year, paying $36 (sometimes $72 for a double) to bop up and down on a stationary bike in a dark, candlelit room while an instructor bellowed positive affirmations.

“SoulCycle is now late to the market,” said Winnie Clark, 33, an advertising creative director quarantining with her family in West Palm Beach, Fla. Last year, Ms. Clark spent more than $5,000 on SoulCycle classes.

While some people remain confident that as the pandemic ends, people will return to the studio, others aren’t so sure.

This week, however SoulCycle will reopen in Dallas, which has two studios. The company has sent an email to riders with an extensive list of new safety measures: no more showers or “high-touch amenities” like gum, razors or Q-tips. Staff will get temperature checks before shifts. There will be fewer people in classes and more classes added to the schedule. But even with stringent protocols in place, many may be scared to go back to sweaty studios.

Peloton has a giant lead in market share when it comes to the at-home biking trend. It remains to be seen if Variis & SoulCycle will be able to take over some of that market share.

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