“We give you the space to disconnect and spend 45 minutes investing in yourself.” ~ Melanie Whelan, CEO of Soulcycle

Summary: Melanie Whelan first entered the world of fitness administration when Harvey Spevak, the CEO of Equinox, was looking for someone to start a business development function, thinking about non-core business growth beyond just opening new clubs. She helped launch Pure Yoga, Blink Fitness, and acquired a majority interest in SoulCycle. After six months I came over to lead and build and run the operation. She helped the company expand to its 74 locations in 14 markets and recent opening in Toronto, Canada. In an interview, Whelan described her prior managemnet experience:

“After working at Starwood Hotels and helping launch Virgin America, I was introduced to Harvey Spevak, the C.E.O. of Equinox, and he gave me the opportunity to start a business development function at the company. I was responsible for managing three department heads. They were all far more experienced than I was. I came in with one view of how to manage people, and after a year or so I had a completely different perspective. I thought initially that I was going to learn their business and then I could add value by saying, “Here are our goals, and here’s where we’re going.” What I learned very quickly was that they just wanted a partner to collaborate with. They just wanted to brainstorm, to vent, to spitball ideas.
I learned to just ask questions, and not to have an initial point of view. For them, it was really just about collaboration and coaching and me bringing fresh eyes to their business. They wanted accountability, they wanted to run their business, and they didn’t really want me in their day-to-day. Once I figured that out, we had really productive relationships.”

Nationality: American

Company: Soulcycle

Q: What do you think SoulCycle creates for its customers? on levo.com

A: If someone tells you you can push up a hill or you can go through a transition that leaves you more powerful on the other side. If you can take a little bit of that into your life and think about yourself in a different way or think about a relationship in a different way, you can change. That is really what SoulCycle creates. It is a community of possibility.