“I want you to give me 45 minutes of yes,” the instructor exclaims as the lights in the Soulcycle studio dim down. About 15 minutes later, with sweat streaming down my face, I’m debating if taking the spin class in the name of research was worth the leg cramps.
The instructor jumps off his bike and begins to walk around the room, so I bump up the resistance to make it look like I have the energy to pedal harder than I actually am. Looking around at the sea of riders clad in Lululemon, I try to notice if the normal class of 60 is any less full after the Twitter campaign to boycott the company.
One of Soulcycle’s biggest investors, Stephen Ross, recently came under fire for hosting a Trump reelection campaign fundraiser in the Hamptons. In the age of boycott culture, this act apparently warranted revenge from the public. As Ross’ many investments were unveiled, outraged celebrities on Twitter called for their followers to cancel their memberships to Soulcycle and fellow fitness brand Equinox.
Soulcycle attempted damage control by posting a press release from the CEO Melanie Whelan. In the release, Whelan states that the company was hurt by Ross’ actions and that Soulcycle doesn’t support his values.
“This is about our values. So today, we are responding in the best way we know how — with diversity, inclusion, acceptance and love,” Whelan said.
Whelan’s response wasn’t accepted by the public, and many continued to criticize Soulcycle for painting a picture of love and positivity when their funds are benefiting a president they claim doesn’t stand for that. However, Soulcycle shouldn’t be held responsible for the actions of an investor — especially an investor who was given access to the company by its former CEOs who have now walked away from Soulcycle, leaving Whelan to deal with the repercussions.
Soulcycle also has a history of supporting LGBTQ and women’s rights and it’s partnered with the NAACP during Black History Month. This company has proven where their values lie even before Ross’ fundraiser was announced.
Those who don’t wish to spend money on any corporation that supports President Trump will find it difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. The same people who have the money to spend on a $40 class to boycott are also paying $100 every year for Amazon Prime, which funds Jeff Bezos’ donations to both political parties.
At the end of my Soulcycle class, I found myself embarrassingly unable to kick out of my clipped-in shoes and stuck to the bike. One of the employees, sensing my distress, quickly ran over to assist me. As I thanked her for saving me from embarrassment, I realized why I didn’t mind that I just handed over $40 to be tortured for 45 minutes.
The money I spent that day will go toward the employees who greeted me with a smile and made me feel welcome, and the instructor who peppered the class with feel-good mantras leaving me in a positive mood. These are the people who will be affected by a boycott, not Ross who’ll continue to be a billionaire regardless of a drop in sales by Soulcyle.
Allison Baxter is a junior media arts & design and communication studies double major. Contact Allison at email@example.com.