Everything at SoulCycle is designed to feel effortless — but it’s really not, according to Gabrielle Cohen, senior vice president of public relations and brand strategy at SoulCycle.
“Everything has a purpose,” Cohen said of the company, which filed for an initial public offering this summer. “From the moment you walk in the door we think about lighting. There is a specific scent, it transports you; it’s a fresh grapefruit scent. There is someone smiling [at the front desk] who is happy to see you. The experience starts the second you get inside, not on the bike.”
The mission of the company — which has gained a cult following, especially within the fashion and beauty industries — is to change people’s relationship with exercise.
“Why is something that’s so good for you, something that we dread?” Cohen said, explaining that the team has created an exercise that doesn’t “feel like work.” She said that “creating something that’s cool” is never the impetus behind anything the team does at SoulCycle. It’s more about fostering a community and a relationship with riders. To that point, every single studio is designed to feel like it’s own SoulCycle.
“You want to feel like it’s an individual studio with a similar experience,” Cohen said.
She added that retail has becoming a meaningful portion of the business as well, calling T-shirts, tank, hoodies and pants emblazoned with the brand’s signature logo a “badge of honor” that riders wear proudly — in and out of the studio. Back in 2007, the first SoulCycle T-shirt began as a marketing experiment, when cofounders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice spent their last $2,000 on branded apparel.
“There is a psychographic of someone who wants to find joy in exercise, and I don’t think it’s a core woman who is 35,” Cohen said. “It’s more about people who are purpose-driven who want to find joy in their experiences. There has to be a deeper connection than just a transactional [one].”