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The SoulCycle Business Model: Riding for Wellness, Soul, and Community

Staying fit can be fun, inspiring, meditative, and tribal. Such was the game-changing idea of New York City-based wellness brand, SoulCycle. Back in 2006, co-founders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice were looking for a workout experience that was both effective and fun. Not satisfied with the workout options available at the time, the pair thought of a fitness experience that was high-energy yet intentional, and inspirational. From this idea, the SoulCycle business model was crystallized. The goal: to provide a fitness experience that goes beyond the physical.

Thirteen years later, the SoulCycle business model has established a fervent customer base. SoulCycle has a passionate following that generates 10,000 rides per day. Celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens, Kaley Cuoco, Oprah, Beyoncé, and Michelle Obama all have their SoulCycle love affair. Primed for growth and expansion, the fitness brand currently has more than 90 studios across the United States and Canada. Now under the wing of a luxury fitness company, Equinox, SoulCycle is expanding its fitness offerings globally.

Melanie Whelan, SoulCycle CEO
The SoulCycle business model is simple: create a holistic fitness experience, then add music.

Laying the Foundations of SoulCycle

Co-founders Cutler and Rice met in 2006 over what they call as “the best blind date ever”. Little did they know that this initial meeting will lay the foundations of a fitness sensation. The two came from two different industries. Rice was a talent agent while Cutler was in real estate. But they shared a common vision: they were both looking for a fitness experience that went beyond physical wellness.

A practicing yogi, Cutler wanted a fitness experience that offered the same meditative quality. Rice was a hiker-runner who wanted the same sense of community from her wellness activities. They both agreed that working out should not be a mere task to tick off from a to-do list but an activity that energizes the body, mind, and soul.

SoulCycle Starts Running

Cutler found a space in Craigslist and Rice began researching about towels. Two days after, their next meeting was held at a back lobby of a dance studio on 72nd street – the first-ever SoulCycle spin studio.

The competition was fierce. The SoulCycle business model was up against established gyms and fitness brands. But Cutler and Rice offered their facilities and classes on a pay-per-visit mode. This was a bold move. Gyms and fitness facilities thrive because of membership fees. The SoulCycle business model nurtured member loyalty by giving higher value for consumer dollars… as well as the best possible customer service to their riders. Ultimately, a community of loyal riders was instrumental for the SoulCycle expansion and growth.

Elizabeth Cutler talking SoulCycle
Given the company’s popularity, SoulCycle expansion was inevitable.

The SoulCycle Business Model: Lifestyle Beyond the Bike

The SoulCycle 45-minute session is a fast-paced, high-energy, full-body workout. Instructor/gurus guide the sessions by sharing inspirational mantras to the tune of upbeat music. Studios are dimly-lit, offering riders a safe space to just let it out, overcome mental obstacles, and be their true selves. By creating a safe space, SoulCycle unleashes the strength within each rider. It is the kind of strength that has the power to transcend beyond the halls of the studio and empower riders in their daily lives.

While technology has seeped into almost every aspect of modern life, SoulCycle offers an opportunity to disconnect during classes. A no-phone policy is strictly enforced so riders can focus and be immersed in the experience. For new riders, it can be an emotional rollercoaster. Riders are pushed physically through strain from the bike’s increasing tension and attempt to keep up to the beat. However, more than burning calories, the surge of endorphins and positive and uplifting communal energy makes riders want to live a SoulCycle lifestyle beyond the bike.

Julie Rice talks about SoulCycle
The SoulCycle business model worked – so what’s next?

Equinox and SoulCycle: Spinning for Future Growth

In 2011, American luxury wellness brand Equinox Fitness partnered with SoulCycle to bring the innovative brand to the rest of the world. The SoulCycle expansion happened fast. The following year, the first West Coast studio opened in California. More branches were launched in the Bay Area, Washington, DC, Boston, Miami, and Chicago in the succeeding years. There are now 91 SoulCycle studios across North America.

With the SoulCycle expansion, the brand’s loyal following has grown exponentially. While there are more studios across the country, classes are still booked fast. Thus, in 2015, SoulCycle launched an app for iOS to facilitate class reservations. In addition, SoulCycle has partnered with sports apparel brands like Lululemon, Lilybod, and Nike.

The SoulCycle business model has had an undeniable impact on the fitness industry. With a focus on the holistic aspects of working out, the company has introduced a whole new meaning to the word “fitness”. Through the magic of candles and a stationary bike–and a high-energy soundtrack–it offers people a new way to feel more balanced and connected.

The Growing Demand for Waste Management in Space

a cartoon of a space garbage truck dumping waste away from earth
There is a growing demand for waste management in space. What are the bold steps to solve this issue?

Space Debris is Real – What’s Being Done About It?

In 1957, Sputnik became the first satellite launched into the earth’s orbit with Explorer I soon following after. At the time, space seemed vast, expansive, and infinite in scope. No one likely expected that there will be a need for waste management in space. But increasingly, space debris is becoming a real issue. There is a call for both public and private entities to help address these challenges for the future.

There are proposals and tests for solutions to address waste management in space. While the task for collecting and removing space debris is difficult, innovative ideas exist. As the amount of space debris continues to grow in size, these pursuits are both timely and essential. And examining which solutions seem to have the greatest potential offers insights into how we will manage the future space economy.

The Growing Demand for Waste Management in Space

Each year, more satellites end up on the earth’s orbit than those being removed. In fact, more than 4,000 satellites exist in space today with the majority non-functional. As a result, space debris from these pieces of equipment continues to expand along with other items. Therefore, an increasing need for waste management in space has evolved for both environmental and safety reasons.

At NASA, there is routine tracking and monitoring of these various pieces of space debris. Currently, more than 150,000 pieces of space debris between 1 and 10 cm in size orbit the earth. Likewise, more than 20,000 pieces greater than 10 cm in size exist as well. And estimates suggest that over 150 million pieces of space debris smaller than a centimeter have accumulated. From satellites to astronaut gloves, outer space is rapidly becoming a space dump.

Bold Steps in Waste Management in Space Solutions

Testing waste management in space solutions is difficult, to say the least. However, there are bold initiatives that show tremendous promise. One of the most exciting is the RemoveDEBRIS project, which is currently experimenting with space debris removal. The EU and some private investors co-sponsor the $18.5 million initiative to evaluate potential waste management in space strategies. Specifically, the team is evaluating a visual navigational system and space debris removal techniques using nets and harpoons. Surrey Satellite Technology, maker of the space debris removal satellite, has noted that this could provide a low-cost solution.

The above solution is designed for waste management in space for controlled space debris. Removing uncontrolled space debris, like non-responding satellites, is more challenging. In this regard, the European Space Agency has different ideas. By the end of 2019, they hope to begin testing e.Deorbit, a spacecraft for space debris removal. This endeavor has much broader implications for the removal of larger items currently cluttering space.

A Global Call to Action

Today, visions for space tourism, space manufacturing, and remote planetary residences are being proposed. But none of this will be possible or safe without effective waste management in the space program. Space debris travels at speeds of 30,000 mph and poses serious threats to spacecraft and satellites. In fact, NASA reported 21 near-collisions in 2018 alone requiring avoidance maneuvers. And with multiple nations pursuing space exploration, this problem is growing exponentially.

Certainly, the projects by the ESA and other private organizations are promising. They can do more in developing effective waste management in space program. There is a need to conduct waste disposal oversight by a global body, and space debris removal technologies need further support. Similarly, with rocket fuel being a major contributor to space debris, there is a requirement for lower-carbon energy resources. Lastly, there is a need to adopt collaborative regulatory policies by all nations as part of a waste management in space initiative. Through these efforts, we will be better able to ensure space is safe and a viable resource for our future.