The CEO of SoulCycle has resigned after the fitness brand suffered a decline in attendance over the summer when it emerged the owner hosted a fundraiser for President Trump.
Melanie Whelan was with the cycling studio for eight years and announced that it was her final week of ‘an incredible chapter’ in a social media post on Tuesday.
A representative for SoulCycle told DailyMail.com Wednesday that the board and Whelan had come to a mutual agreement.
They said Sunder Reddy, SoulCycle’s CFO will assume the role of interim CEO while the company conducts a search for a permanent replacement.
Melanie will stay on in an advisory capacity to the company throughout the transition, SoulCycle told DailyMail.com.
‘I can’t even begin to describe my gratitude for the opportunity to build and lead the SoulCycle team and brand,’ Whelan posted on Instagram.
Melanie Whelan SoulCycle’s CEO and Director resigned Tuesday after eight years with the brand
In August, chairman Stephen Ross came under fire for hosting events expected to have brought in up to $12million for Trump’s 2020 campaign and customers boycotted the brand
Whelan announced that it was her final week of ‘an incredible chapter’ in a social media post on Tuesday and SoulCycle announced it in a staff email
‘Having started with SoulCycle when we had only seven studios and a huge dream – and with my toddlers along with me for the ride – I couldn’t be more proud of what this team has accomplished together.’
While Whelan didn’t share details of any other career plans, she hinted she could join a rival as she added: ‘I will see you on a bike… soon.’
The same day SoulCycle’s chief people officer announced the news to staff in an email.
Melanie’s Whelan’s farewell statement
After eight amazing years with SoulCycle, this week marks the end of an incredible chapter as I move on to my next adventure.
I can’t even begin to describe my gratitude for the opportunity to build and lead the SoulCycle team and brand. Having started with SoulCycle when we had only seven studios and a huge dream – and with my toddlers along with me for the ride – I couldn’t be more proud of what this team has accomplished together.
The magic of SoulCycle will always be in those dark studios. The love, the passion, the energy and the spirit of what we do is more important today than ever before. I will see you on a bike … soon.
Soul People truly are the Best People.
‘I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to have led the SoulCycle team and brand over the past nearly eight years during a transformational time for this amazing community,’ Whelan said in an official statement sent to employees. ‘The future is bright for this one-of-a-kind organization and I will be cheering on its continued growth and success.’
In August, members of SoulCycle started cancelling their memberships after Stephen Ross, chairman of the fitness brands’ parent company The Related Cos., came under fire for hosting events expected to have brought in up to $12million for the president’s 2020 campaign.
The Atlantic reported in September that Earnest Research said class sign-ups at US locations decreased 12.8 percent when comparing the 18 days prior to backlash and same period of time afterwards.
The company said the initial week of August 11 saw a decline of 1 per cent and subsequent weeks attendance went down 6 per cent to 7.5 per cent.
When asked the reasons for the departure, Harvey Spevak, Executive Chairman of SoulCycle, told DailyMail.com Wednesday.
‘We want to thank Melanie for her hard work and dedication to SoulCycle,’Spevak, said. ‘Melanie and I have worked together for many years and I look forward to seeing what she conquers next.
‘We’re grateful to have such a strong interim leader in Sunder throughout this transition, and are actively supporting him as we search for a permanent replacement.’
On Instagram Tuesday, Whelan reminisced about starting with SoulCycle ‘when we had only seven studios and a huge dream – and with my toddlers along with me for the ride’
SoulCycle told DailyMail.com Wednesday that the board and Whelan came to a mutual agreement and she will stay on to advise while she’s replaced
Equinox and SoulCycle individually posted statements that tried to distance themselves from their billionaire owner in August amid a backlash.
Customers claimed the brands ethos ‘all souls welcome’ opposed Trump’s stance.
Celebrities including Chrissy Teigen and Bill Eichner backed the boycott.
Eichner tweeted: ‘Hey @Equinox – what’s your policy for canceling memberships once a member finds out your owner is enabling racism and mass murder?’
Equinox and SoulCycle stated ‘no company profits are used to fund politicians’ and that they ‘have nothing to do with the event and do not support it.’
The posts described Ross as a ‘passive investor… not involved in the management.’
SoulCycle also added: ‘We believe in diversity, inclusion, and equality,’ which in a paraphrased statement Equinox echoed.
In August, protesters gathered in West Hollywood in a bid to urge members to boycott SoulCycle – where classes can cost as much as $36 – after their owner threw a lavish fundraiser for Donald Trump.
Tickets cost $250,000.
The protest was organized by Gonzalo Garcia and his friend Adam Bass, who joined a crowd with banners, flags and chants denouncing the fitness company – which also owns Equinox and Blink – for its ties to Trump.
Celebrities including Chrissy Teigen and Bill Eichner backed the boycott in August
Equinox and SoulCycle stated ‘no company profits are used to fund politicians’ and that they ‘have nothing to do with the event and do not support it’
Crowds that gathered in Los Angeles on Friday held signs including ‘Trump has no soul’ and ‘Equi-NOT’ as well as ‘Honk for accountability.’
Ross hit back though, saying he has ‘always been an active participant in the democratic process’.
Ross has donated large sums to Republican candidates and causes according to FEC filings,. while also contributing to democrats including Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and Lois Frankel of Florida.
‘While some prefer to sit outside of the process and criticize, I prefer to engage directly and support the things I deeply care about.
‘I have known Donald Trump for 40 years and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.
‘I started my business with nothing and a reason for my engagement with our leaders is my deep concern for creating jobs and growing our country’s economy .
‘I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability, ad I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges.’
Ross hit back, saying he has ‘always been an active participant in the democratic process’ after protesters encouraged a backlash this summer
In September Earnest Research said class sign-ups at US locations decreased 12.8 percent when comparing the 18 days prior to backlash and same period of time afterwards