Boycotting SoulCycle and Equinox: Trump-supporting brands beware

Finding fitness brands and businesses that support your social and political leanings

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Aug 9 · 6 min read
Photo credit: Create Her Stock

In odd news of the week, SoulCycle has made itself an archenemy. Who would’ve thunk it?

I thought about my own fitness regimen while reading about billionaire Stephen Ross (owner of SoulCycle and Equinox) throwing a pro-Trump fundraiser for $5,600 to $250,000 per person in the Hamptons.

I’m at the gym four times per week, in addition to dog walking. I try not to ever miss a week of WERQ dance classes, Pilates or Zumba. Hopping around on rebounders has become my new favorite thing to do, too.

While I’m checking off my weekly list, I thought about how this news threw other fitness enthusiasts for a loop. Who would expect SoulCycle to be cringeworthy? A laundry list of people are tweeting about canceling their SoulCycle and Equinox memberships. While Ross was written off as a “passive investor” by both companies, I pondered on what I’d do if some of my favorite fitness classes or fitness brands were affiliated with Trump-supporting organizations. If I’m being honest, I’d rather not know. Because once you know, you can never un-know.

I pondered on what I’d do if some of my favorite fitness classes or fitness brands were affiliated with Trump-supporting organizations. If I’m being honest, I’d rather not know.

Photo credit: bruce mars/Unsplash

Ignorance is bliss sometimes, and I never quite figured that out until I started working at my second newspaper job. I would get so bent out of shape about contract rules and policies asking staff not to publicly share their political leanings and views on social causes. It is hard for someone as contumacious as me to move silently — that includes with my own teams, never mind outside readers.

For example, I stood my ground when one newspaper boss wanted me to replace an MLK Monument D.C. travel story with an alligator-attack story on Inauguration Day — the same MLK Day that former President Obama officially started his second term. While the entire homepage was loaded with political and historical content, he felt it was “oversaturated” and thought an alligator story was good for some clicks. And he told me this while drinking out of a St. Patrick’s Day cup. My expression as I stared at him drinking from that cup gave him all the answer I didn’t verbally say. The MLK story stayed.

I cringed at another online news publication with an editor who blew off covering Black Lives Matter protests in Baltimore. In her own words, “We don’t know if they’ll stay around that long.” (BLM had been the focus of many news stories for a little under two years by this time.) My beat was not Baltimore news in 2015, so I sat on my hands and tried not to write anything related to Freddie Gray. I still continued to pester the editors to cover BLM. In 2019, it’s “still around.”

Photo credit: BruceEmmerling/Pixabay

But in later years, at a few other journalism assignments, I started running into co-workers who made snippy comments about Obama or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I couldn’t unhear them. And I cut ties with several people who I’d considered good friends. I still haven’t figured out how Kellyanne Conway and George Conway manage to survive together in the same household, never mind be happily married, when I don’t even want to be in the same breakroom as a Trump supporter. Once you know someone’s political views are so drastically different than yours, how do you continue to support them?

Once you know someone’s political views are so drastically different than yours, how do you continue to support them?

It is strange to me to run into former co-workers who dread going home for Thanksgiving and Christmas because they know family members and friends will debate about Trump. I don’t know the 37.1 million African-Americans in the United States. I don’t even know most of them. Hell, I don’t know all of them on my own block. But I think it’s safe to say that this is not a common issue that most black families have to deal with, especially considering 94 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton and 82 percent of black men did, too.

I have no idea how I’d react to finding out a loved one voted for the man. It’s far easier to just ditch a fitness class (I never got into stationary bike riding) than to ditch a person. But how do we get ourselves out of these situations to begin with? First, do your research.

The gym that I’m a member of is LGBTQ+ friendly. That matters to me. However, I am straight as a ruler. Still though, inclusivity is important to me as a heterosexual woman because it adds a great big stamp on the front door that states “we don’t have time for the discriminatory bulls**t of any kind.”

Photo credit: Danny Kekspro/Unsplash

Originally I visited that gym because I wanted to continue taking WERQ dance classes. But I joined that gym because I liked the nondiscriminatory vibe. The restrooms are unisex. The owner is cool. Everything functions well. And (unless I’m totally naive) the instructors are clearly pretty open-minded, too, otherwise they wouldn’t choose to work there.

Sometimes it may take a little extra effort to find organizations or brands that are in alignment with your political and social ideas. I had a hard time wearing Adidas clothing after hearing the history of Nazis associated with them, regardless of what Olympian Jesse Owens chose to wear.

I had a hard time wearing Adidas clothing after hearing the history of Nazis associated with them, regardless of what Olympian Jesse Owens chose to wear.

I never wore Puma clothing, so not supporting one Dassler brother was easier than the other. Although I respect that Nike signed a deal with Colin Kaepernick, I didn’t rush out and get all Nike everything. (I am, however, amused that Jenifer Lewis defied the usual glam outfits at the 2018 Emmy’s for this ensemble though.)

Photo credit: Create Her Stock

Although I’m not super loyal to yoga studios these days (my yoga mat and ROKU yoga channels are sufficient for me), I try to take it at least once a week. And even when I ditch yoga, I still greet my occasional yoga instructor with big hugs and have introduced her to my mother, who joined me for Zumba once. Do you know how much you have to like your gym to introduce the instructors to your mother? Quite a bit. But let’s say I didn’t have this gym to go to. Sites like Shoppe Black make it easy for me to find fitness instructors, gyms and businesses that may support my political and social leanings.

Recommended Read: “25 Black Owned Yoga Studios #NAMASTE

Just as I’ve learned from more than a decade in journalism, it may be easier to just not ask or try to dig up people’s social and political leanings. It certainly helps to keep things drama free. But once you know, you know. While I do hope those SoulCycle and Equinox enthusiasts find another fitness club or program to continue on with their health goals, more importantly, I hope these businesses as a whole understand that the power dynamics have changed. Unlike back in the day when you had to just deal with a company to get basic necessities, now consumers have the ability to walk — or cycle — on out whenever they see fit.

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Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

14-year journalist; freelance writer/editor (Upwork); Wag! dog walker; Rover dog sitter; Unity Toastmasters member and 4x officer; Visit Shamontiel.com

Window Shopping

If you’re into retail and food news, business tips and Internet shopping, read on.

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