SoulCycle under fire after covering up instructor abuse and harassment for years
SoulCycle, if you aren’t already in the know, is a wildly popular cycling workout that attracts all sorts of famous people, costs like $30 per class, and employs instructors who give vaguely religious-y sermons from atop their stationary bikes under the guise of “athletic motivation.” It was a wild place for sure, but now a new expose from Business Insider is proving that it isn’t just an overpriced celeb hot stop, it is a toxic nightmare. BI has learned that several top SoulCycle instructors have been accused of abusing their power to sleep with riders while fat-shaming others and verbally harassing other SoulCycle employees.
In their takedown, Business Insider lists the offending instructors by name, many of whom are still teaching popular SoulCycle classes, and are generally treated as fitness celebrities, with a “can do no wrong” appeal.
One of their repeat offenders is “master instructor Laurie Cole” who reportedly fat-shamed the front-desk employees by taking photos of them and requesting they be taken off the schedule because their bodies were not “on brand.” “I don’t want this at the front desk during my classes,” she reportedly told her bosses. Not only that, but she would threaten not to teach that day if her bosses didn’t get rid of the front-desk staffers she didn’t like.
In addition to the body shaming of her peers, Cole once told a pregnant customer riding a bike in the first row of her class to move to a different row. Another time she made homophobic remarks about fellow instructors. Her superiors would sometimes take her off the schedule, but other than that, she faced no serious disciplinary actions. Despite numerous complaints, she was gifted a Mercedes Benz during a Hamptons stay and the company paid for her expensive SoHo House membership.
Jennifer Brody, who was a studio manager at a California SoulCycle location, said that one time she put a bandana on after class when master instructor and Chairman of Cycle For Recover’s Cycling Advisory Board, Conor Kelly, looked at her — a black woman — and said, “Whoa, Aunt Jemima!”
The same instructor was also accused of sleeping with multiple customers and sending them nudes of himself which an anonymous staffer said “became problematic because people’s spouses were complaining, and then it caused a lot of infighting with riders as well.”
Another instructor, Mike Press, was accused of pressuring a rider into performing oral sex on him after he showed up at her dorm and she refused to sleep with him. The victim, Olivia Atherton, has been publicly sharing her story of sexual assault on social media and says she’s “angry” that SoulCycle isn’t doing anything to prevent this “from happening again.”
“SoulCycle kind of turned the cheek on a lot of stuff as long as they were making money,” Brody said.
In all of these cases, the instructors were never seriously held accountable, and as mentioned before, many are still teaching today, with packed classes and full waitlists.