It’s never too late to reinvent yourself.
Just ask Ruth Zukerman, one of the original cofounders of SoulCycle (arguably one of the most successful spin class companies anywhere) and who, after a devastating exit from the company, picked herself up and built Flywheel Sports, offering spinning classes with a “where everybody knows your name” ethos, and a big focus on technology and metrics. And, it turns out, this isn’t the last chapter—at all!
Ruth Zukerman, Co-founder of indoor cycling businesses SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports and author of the book “Riding High: How I Kissed SoulCycle Goodbye, Co-Founded Flywheel, and Built the Life I Always Wanted”, joins Socialfly Co-founder Courtney Spritzer in the MouthMedia Network studios for a conversation about building her company and her journey to success, along with a surprise and a brainstorm.
In this episode:
- How Ruth made the decision to leave her lifelong passion, dance, behind and how she found a new passion and career through spinning
- Ruth’s first experience of being intimidated by spin classes at the old Reebok gym, and the epiphany of pushing herself to go to her first class
- Why the combination of exercise, music, and a pack mentality resonated with Ruth’s dance background
- How an inspiring spin instructor’s move to Florida prompted Ruth to become an instructor herself and led to a whole new career path
- The out-of-the-blue offer to be the face of a new boutique spinning studio gym: SoulCycle
- How Ruth brought students from her old gym to the new studio despite its rough-around-the-edges feel in the beginning.
- How the brand’s strong identity got started from the get-go
- The hard times early on, from leading classes for six people to teaching 22 classes a week
- How Ruth’ brought a therapeutic and spiritual experience to SoulCycle
- Flywheel, Ruth’s departure from SoulCycle, and starting a new brand from scratch
- The ways Ruth has changed her focus with Flywheel to bring spinning to a wider audience The liberating aspect of starting a new brand built around inclusiveness, and the challenges of differentiating from other studios
- How metrics played a role in building Flywheel’s branding and also opened the door to more male clients
- The branding challenges early on, and how they developed the “Never Coast” mentality.
- The organic way a buyer was found after his daughter brought him to a Flywheel class
- How much can change from the initial decision to sell a company and handing over the keys
- Ruth’s difficult decision to leave Flywheel
- The lessons Ruth has learned along the way, and actions she would take in hindsight to protect herself
- The importance of trusting your gut and your business partners, but not at the expense of risking your own position
- How sometimes being genuinely prepared to walk away from a deal can be the best negotiation tactic
- Ruth’s book “Riding High,” and why she wants to tell her story now.
- Her hopes that the book will inspire people and start their own business and learn from her mistakes
- The importance of bearing your soul and being intimate with the ups and downs of one’s life in order to reach and inspire others
- The aftermath of leaving Flywheel and getting off of the bike for the first time in 21 years, and how Ruth is rediscovering herself
- How Ruth has tried to be present and an inspiration for her daughters, and how that has set them on their own paths
- Plus, a 60-second brainstorm on how Ruth can promote herself and her book