A fight between two fitness brands and their loyalists is spinning out of control.
Both Peloton and SoulCycle are doing whatever it takes to get well-toned butts back in the seats as the spin-vangelists struggle financially, in a shocking tumble from peak pandemic popularity.
Earlier this year, Peloton saw ridership plummet and inventory pile up, its pricey bikes and treadmills increasingly harder to sell as the demand for at-home fitness dried up.
So much so, the former Wall Street fave slashed the cost of equipment to drum up sales, laid off 20% of its workforce and started pushing a return to newly cheaper, in-person classes at their brick-and-mortar studios, summoning pop star Lizzo to surprise riders at a press preview ahead of its New York City reopening on Aug. 19.
Meanwhile, SoulCycle has been struggling with its own issues after the once trendy spin-studio shuttered all its locations in the early days of the pandemic and launched its own at-home bike to keep up with Peloton.
Reviews were largely positive, but that couldn’t stop the company from posting its biggest year-over-year sales decline on record — nearly 30%, according to numbers reported by Vox in February 2020 and disputed by the company — at a time when Peloton was enjoying enormous momentum.
It also couldn’t have helped that the company had come under fire due to allegations of racism, fat-shaming and instructors having sex with clients, as a 2020 report revealed. (“When we receive complaints or allegations related to behavior within our community that does not align to our values, we take those very seriously and both investigate and address them,” the company said at the time.)
Flash forward to now, and a battered SoulCycle is almost giving away classes — a $99 new-member special offers two weeks of unlimited rides, while its website touts another 20% off at the spin chain, where discounts were once unheard of.
If that doesn’t sound like a company with nothing to lose, the latest salvo sees SoulCycle going squarely after the competition’s customers. A controversial new “F—k it, Let’s Ride Together!” campaign bribes at-home enthusiasts who turn in their Peloton bikes with dozens of free in-person SoulCycle classes.
Now through Wednesday, the first 100 people who surrender their Peloton bikes, live within 20 miles of a SoulCycle studio and can prove they have not taken an in-studio class since lockdown began will receive 47 free in-studio classes at any of SoulCycle’s 83 locations across the country. The New York City-based company even offered to pick up the Peloton bikes free of charge.
“We’re dead set on seeing you back with your pack,” the company, which charges $38 per class, said on its website. (SoulCycle and Peloton did not immediately return a request for comment.)
But many Peloton fans say they’re determined to sit and spin.
“My initial reaction was, ‘This is such an aggressive, desperate marketing campaign,’” said Melissa Ferrara, a Weehawken, NJ-based event planner and creator of the Instagram account Moms of Peloton, which has 80,000 followers and isn’t affiliated with the company. Ferrara has been a rider since 2019, and said she’ll never abandon her beloved bike — or her favorite Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby.
So when SoulCycle threw down the gauntlet, she sounded off.
“This is giving very Regina George working at a car dealership [vibes],” Ferrara said in a video to her followers, referring to Rachel McAdams’ “Mean Girls” character.
“There’s no way that true Pelotoners are going to give up their bikes. As cheesy as this sounds, it’s more than a bike, it’s a community and inclusion. It would feel like betrayal,” Ferrara told The Post of the promo.
Robin Rashbaum, 54, a Long Island-based life insurance sales brokerage manager who has been a Peloton member since 2015, agrees.
“I’m ride or die,” said Rashbaum, who uses her Peloton bike at least once a day and can’t imagine herself stepping foot inside a studio regularly.
“My equipment is not a coat hanger,” she said. “There’s no amount of free SoulCycle classes that would make me trade in my bike.”
But not everyone is as loyal — especially if it means getting back some extra square footage in their apartments that’s currently lost to their Peloton.
Austin-based rider Sarah Barnes, 27, begged SoulCycle in all caps on Instagram to take her Peloton bike she purchased back in 2020.
“At this point, it’s taking up too much room in my one bedroom apartment,” Barnes told The Post, adding that she’s yet to hear back from the company.
Like so many others, Barnes bought her bike during the early stages of the pandemic, and got a lot out of it. Now, she’s not so sure it deserves pride of place in her home.
When asked what she’d replace it with, Barnes’ answer was simple.
“A chair,” she said.
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