March 16, 2021

Partnership, Peoplehood, and a Little Soul

Most people assume that we started out as BFFs — or that we at least knew each other before going into business together — but that wasn’t the case. We were set up on a blind date by our mutual spin instructor because we had the same idea: We both wanted to create a space where people could feel good about themselves, and connect through exercise.

Five months later, SoulCycle opened its doors on West 72nd St. in Manhattan. Our roles played to our individual strengths, but every decision we made, we made together. Our partnership was like a second marriage, and much like our actual marriages, we had disagreements, misunderstandings, growing pains, and communication issues. We shared an office and were in touch 24/7, but we weren’t always in sync. 

We worked full time and each had tiny babies at home. We were often overwhelmed and struggled to resolve our conflicts. We needed help. So one night, Elizabeth Googled Life Coach NYC and booked an appointment with the coach she felt most drawn to. All this time, we had laughed at the ways our partnership resembled a marriage. We never thought we might actually need marriage counseling! Julie shook her head the entire cab ride, incredulous that we were about to meet someone we found on the internet (Hello, 2006). But some things are meant to be.

With our new coach, we learned how to work through conflict, how to express ourselves more effectively, and most importantly, how to listen and actually hear each other. That’s not to say that every session was easy, felt good, or resolved all our issues — but doing the work, worked. We’d wake up after a session able to process the other’s point of view. Even if we still disagreed, we understood each other. That was the foundation of our bond and our business.

The communication and emotional regulation skills we learned made our jobs and our lives easier. As we learned to really hear each other, we shared these tools with our team, and integrated them into SoulCycle’s ethos. As a result, our colleagues and staff were able to understand each other and our riders in a way that made people feel like they mattered.

When it came to our personal lives, as we poured everything into Soul, we struggled at home. Our husbands were our biggest supporters, but every interaction felt like a negotiation over childcare, a battle over household responsibilities, or a logistics meeting. We either overcompensated and tried to do everything ourselves, which left us feeling resentful, or we felt neglected because we didn’t know how to ask for what we needed. Every argument felt like Groundhog Day. A therapist recommended that we read Getting The Love You Want by researchers and therapists Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt. The book gave us practical tools that taught us how to best express our needs, and how to remain connected as we figured it all out. It helped us want to stay married!

Within a few short years, we opened dozens of SoulCycle locations across the country, and traveled nonstop to introduce local teams to the methodology and magic. People came to our studios weary from their jobs, their kids, and their partners — and then they hopped on a bike and let it all go. It was amazing to witness the breakthroughs riders had when the lights were low and an instructor reminded them that they were worth something. SoulCycle taught people that making a small commitment to themselves could make a world of a difference in their lives.

Year after year, the business grew, so when Equinox came knocking with an offer in 2011, we saw it as an opportunity to take some money off the table and scale our business. Though SoulCycle had become even more successful than we could have imagined during our time with Equinox, we parted ways after five years. We just weren't on the same page. 

Walking away from SoulCycle was devastating and difficult to process, but we knew that it was the right time, and that we would get through it together. However, there was one question that we didn’t know how to answer. Our entire partnership had been formed around SoulCycle — what would hold us together moving forward? 

What we realize now, in hindsight, is that our commitment to connection sparked the relationships we had with our employees and riders, and the connections they had with each other. This was the soul behind SoulCycle. And that’s what has brought us here, to our next chapter: Peoplehood. 

Peoplehood is a space where anyone can learn how to nurture relationships with the people they care about, and deepen connections with those they want to better understand. 

We don’t claim to be experts. We want to share what we learned on our first adventure together. We’ll be digging into transformative communication techniques we’ve learned through working with relational health experts, as well as tools anybody can use to nurture their most important relationships — all in creative, fun, and accessible formats. 

Our future newsletters will be packed with inspiring stories, relationship toolkits, curated recommendations, and updates from the Peoplehood universe on how we can be better to one another. We’re so excited to be bringing Peoplehood into the world, and we’re honored to have you here to help make this experience as magical as possible. When we can finally, freely embrace one another again, we hope Peoplehood will help you establish more meaningful, celebratory connections than ever. 

Thank you for joining us on this new journey. We think you’re in for your best ride yet. 


Francois Duhamel/​Shutterstock

People Lessons: The Intern

It goes without saying that any Nancy Meyers movie deserves a rewatch, especially while we’re all still in quarantine. But The Intern — a movie that captures the genius of how an unlikely working relationship can become a lasting friendship — hits home for us in more ways than one.

Jules (Anne Hathaway) is a high-powered woman who steers a successful startup, only to be told by the men in her life that she needs to hire an experienced, male CEO to take her business to the next level. (Sound familiar?) All the while, a recently widowed septuagenarian named Ben (Robert DeNiro) lands a position via the startup’s Senior Intern Program, a clever way for the company to “give back to its community.”

Nobody at the company expects to fall in love with Ben, but they all do, and he quickly falls into Jules’ good graces. Their surprising relationship leads to key breakthroughs in both of their lives: He finally agrees to start dating again and finds the rewarding social connections needed to live a fulfilled life; she gains the confidence to refuse a CEO and take back control of her troubled marriage. 

Like pretty much any Nancy Meyers film, The Intern wraps up in a neat little bow — and if you ask us, that’s more than fine. We need more pop culture examples of how friendship can be healing. But it’s also a great reminder that the most rewarding relationships might come in unexpected packages. You’ll never really know what someone has to offer you until you reach out.

Tips & Tools For Real Relationships

The Regroup  You know we’re a big fan of deep breathing — but did you know it’s good for more than just meditation? 

Scientific research shows that conversations trigger physical and emotional changes in the brain. These changes can either open us up to healthy, trusting conversations, or shut us down so that we speak from a place of fear, caution, and anxiety.

Often, when we’re preparing for an argument or a confrontation, we do so by rehearsing our points and reinforcing our point of view. (You’ve totally acted out a full-blown argument in the shower — we know you have.) This is similar to how a boxer hypes herself up before entering the ring. You show up prepared to beat your opponent. 

But what if you entered a difficult conversation after taking a moment of pause? (We know, we know: It sounds weird. But give it a try.) Simply close your eyes and take five deep, cleansing breaths. For each breath, inhale for four counts through your nose and exhale for six counts through your nose.

Rather than focusing on your frustration or “winning” your debate, think about the person you’re going to be talking to. Use each breath to remember why you like or love that person. Think of something positive you can say about them. 

We guarantee that when you open your eyes, you’ll be ready for dialogue — not a celebrity death match. Give it a try and let us know what happens.

***For an extra boost of joy, try breathing to one of the songs from the playlist below.

Spotify Playlist

What’s your mood?
Upbeat/Motivated: “Breathin” - Ariana Grande
Mellow/Chill: “Send Me The Moon” - Sara Bareilles 
Contemplative/Focused: “One Summer Day” - Joe Hisaishi