Health & Fitness | November 23, 2020 6:30 am

Revelations About SoulCycle Instructors Revisit Memories of Fitness Classes’ Toxic Side

Following a blockbuster report, reconsidering instructors' bad behavior

A SoulCycle Gym offers open air spin classes in Hudson Yards during the fourth phase of the coronavirus pandemic in New York, New York.
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

There’s a sinking feeling that comes when a number of seemingly random events turn out to be more of a pattern than you’d previously believed. Last week, Business Insider published an exposé that revealed some shockingly bad behavior on the part of prominent SoulCycle instructors over time. What kind of bad behavior? “All of it” might be an appropriate answer.

As the article’s author, Katie Warren, phrased it, “insiders said some of SoulCycle’s most successful instructors discriminated against a pregnant woman, fat-shamed employees, slept with riders, and used homophobic and racist language.”

Writing at Air Mail, Jill Kargman used the Business Insider article to look back over her own experiences at SoulCycle. Kargman describes one instructor publicly embarrassing her — saying, “You’re just mailing it in here. Like, why bother coming?” — in her first class back after she’d had a double mastectomy.

“I wrote a raging e-mail to the former C.E.O., who so kindly sent me flowers, but her generosity, along with the front-of-studio staff’s warm greetings and big smiles, was eventually eclipsed by the swelling attitudes and ballooning egos of their star instructors,” Kargman writes. For her, that was the beginning of the end of her relationship with SoulCycle, for eminently understandable reasons.

Kargman argues that something inherent to SoulCycle changed when the company’s founders sold the company and stepped away from running it in 2016. In light of the Business Insider report, it seems likely that a lot of people will be performing their own analysis of the company’s change in culture — and wondering if their own bad experiences were something much more sinister than isolated incidents.