The backlash over billionaire Stephen Ross' fundraiser for Donald Trump's 2020 presidential campaign has overshadowed a major announcement by premium fitness operator Equinox.
Ross – who as chair of Related Companies is the ultimate owner of Equinox – is throwing a US$100k-$250k-a-ticket bash in support of the controversial president. The news of the party provoked a furious response from members of Equinox and SoulCycle
– the indoor cycling studio chain owned by Equinox.
The timing of the #BoycottEquinox campaign – which has been trending across social media – resulted in the company's announcement of an at-home digital venture to rival the likes of Peloton going largely unnoticed.
Just hours before the furore caused by Ross' links to Trump, Equinox had revealed plans for the multi-brand digital fitness platform – which it plans to launch later this year.
The as-yet unnamed platform is set to offer a digital membership to premium content created within the company's ecosystem of brands – including Equinox, SoulCycle and Precision Run – as well as personalised programming from top instructors in the world, across multiple types of workouts.
The platform will be designed to work across the brands' physical locations, as well as digitally wherever users choose to train.
The platform will leverage nearly 300 physical locations, with more than 6,000 instructors delivering custom programmes and coaching. It will also feature content from PROJECT by Equinox, offering members "a first look at emerging fitness trends and instructors".
Significantly, the digital offering will be complemented by the launch of commercial-grade equipment, including a custom SoulCycle bike designed for at-home use and a proprietary Woodway treadmill exclusively created for Precision Run.
The venture will be headed by Jason LaRose, who was appointed CEO of Equinox Media earlier this year to devise and lead the strategy for the digital project.
LaRose, speaking before the news of Ross' links to Trump had emerged, said: "We know from listening to our members, riders and runners that they want a hybrid of digital and in-person experiences, craving both the community environment of our clubs and studios, as well as always-on digital options.
"This platform redefines what it means to be a 'member' of the Equinox community in the 21st century, and gives members more flexibility than ever before and complete autonomy over their fitness routines."
He added that the official name and branding is currently being created.
The full public launch is slated for early 2020, with an invitation-only launch of the platform being offered to select individuals "in the fall of 2019".
The at-home equipment for SoulCycle and Precision Run will be made available for purchase by the end of 2019.
Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle – who just hours after the launch of the digital venture was forced to issue a statement distancing the brand from Ross – also spoke at the unveiling of the at-home platform.
"SoulCycle's devoted, loyal community wants the best of all worlds – a rich studio experience and a digital complement for when life demands it," she said.
"Our digital experience will launch as part of this first-of-its-kind, multi-branded content platform. We couldn't be more excited for riders everywhere to be able to access our immersive, music-driven, choreography-based, signature SoulCycle class starring our world class talent."
Equinox Group's ecosystem of brands currently includes Equinox, Equinox Hotels, SoulCycle, Precision Run, Blink Fitness, Furthermore, PROJECT by Equinox, E by Equinox, Pure Yoga and Equinox Explore.
In a joint statement, they said: “Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians.”