Management is struggling to control the damage. On Wednesday, SoulCycle’s chief talent officer sent an email to instructors providing “talking points” to share with customers. They included, “At SoulCycle, we believe in diversity, inclusion, and equality. All souls are welcome” and “None of the money you spend at SoulCycle will go to this event.”
Meanwhile, people who work for the fitness company are organizing to register their anger. On Thursday, emails from an anonymous Gmail account went out to some Equinox employees calling for a strike. “If we do not show up to work, the clubs can not function,” the email read. “We are the cleaners, the managers, the trainers, the group fitness instructors, the sales reps, the shop salespeople, the spa professions and the gatekeepers. Our collective efforts will have results.”
Inside the 10 a.m. class at the Water Mill studio on Thursday, it was entirely perspiration and no politics. All but a handful of the nearly 70 bikes were occupied by ponytail-wagging, sports bra-wearing riders who had showed up for a workout led by Mireya D’Angelo, one of the company’s most popular instructors. As “Havana” by Camila Cabello and Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” blasted in the dark room, the mostly female cyclers swayed and bopped like dancers at a club exclusively for stationary bikers.
Toward the end of the class, the staffers who had been working at the check-in desk skipped in and sashayed across the studio, wielding flashlights and positive attitudes. Many bikers swung hand towels above their heads.
In the parking lot after class, the feel-good endorphins turned to agitated adrenaline as some riders realized a reporter was present. “Are you here to ruin people’s day?” shouted one woman wearing a baseball cap with the word “LOVE” written in rainbow letters. Her friend called out, “I love you, SoulCycle!”
Jared Epstein, who lives in New York City and Water Mill, was circumspect. “All Americans are entitled to their own opinions and their own political views,” he said, calling Mr. Ross “a great human being.