Build on the soul, lose the cycle.
That appears to be the strategy behind SoulAnnex, a new offering from SoulCycle, the brand that basically launched boutique fitness just over a decade ago.
The company, which is owned by luxury fitness chain Equinox, is testing the idea at one studio in Manhattan's Flatiron area, known unofficially to the sweat set as the fitness district.
SoulAnnex has similar branding to SoulCycle, even its own clothing line. It also commands a similar lofty price, $34 for a 50-minute class. It has the same candlelit setting and same sleek style as its parent, but there is not a bike to be found. Instead, there are three floor-based classes: Align, Define and Move. In other words, stretching, strength and cardio.
At a recent packed lunchtime class, the sounds coming from the studio are the same as you would hear at SoulCycle — blaring beat, equally loud and inspiring instructor, and adrenaline-fueled cheers from the crowd.
"It's just my comfort zone," said Kim Januszewski, a SoulCycle devotee who had already taken a cycling class that morning. "It's a natural marriage because you're just kind of elevating what they already have with the component of the HIIT [high intensity interval training] class."
And that is exactly what Melanie Whelan, SoulCycle's 40-year-old CEO, is banking on — a natural extension of the brand, which now has 82 studios across the U.S. and Canada, with 20 of those in New York City, where SoulCycle began.
"For us, on the inside, we say we're in the business of community and personal transformation and fun, and it's really never been about the bike," said Whelan, who has been at the helm of the company since 2015. "We wanted to create a space for our riders to come together with our instructors and experience the best of SoulCycle off the bike."