Melanie Whelan is resigning from her position as chief executive officer of SoulCycle, effective Tuesday, the company told CNBC Make It. Whelan is also vacating her position as the director on the company’s board.
Both sides felt it was time for a leadership transition, according to a person briefed on the decision who asked not to be named because those discussions were private. A spokesperson for SoulCycle declined to comment on the impetus for the change.
“I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to have led the SoulCycle team and brand over the past nearly eight years during a transformational time for this amazing community,” Whelan said in a statement to CNBC Make It. “The future is bright for this one-of-a-kind organization and I will be cheering on its continued growth and success.”
SoulCycle’s board and Whelan have come to a mutual agreement in which Sunder Reddy, SoulCycle’s chief financial officer since 2017, will assume the role of interim CEO while the company conducts a search for a permanent replacement. Whelan will stay on to advise the company throughout the transition.
Whelan joined SoulCycle in 2012 as the chief operating officer and became chief executive officer in 2015. That same year, SoulCycle filed to go public hoping to raise funds to pay off debt and open studios, but ultimately withdrew its IPO in May 2018 due to “market conditions.”
Before SoulCycle, Whelan was the vice president of business development for the gym chain, Equinox. Equinox and SoulCycle are sister brands owned by private parent company The Related Cos. Prior to that, Whelan worked in corporate development at Virgin USA and Starwood Hotels. While at Virgin USA, she was one of the founding members of the airline, Virgin America.
There are currently over 95 SoulCycle locations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. During the 45-minute indoor cycling workout, riders follow along with an instructor and move to the beat of music inside a dark, candle-lit studio.
In August, many SoulCycle aficionados boycotted the workout classes after news broke that Stephen Ross, chairman of the parent company of Equinox and SoulCycle, was hosting a fundraiser for Donald Trump’s reelection.
“Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event…and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians,” the companies said in a statement at the time.
Ross issued a statement that said he’s always been “an active participant in the democratic process,” and that while he agrees with Trump on some issues, they “strongly disagree” on others, CNBC reported.
Harvey Spevak, executive chairman of SoulCycle, thanked Whelan for her hard work and dedication to SoulCycle in a statement to CNBC Make It.
“Melanie and I have worked together for many years and I look forward to seeing what she conquers next,” Spevak said. “We’re grateful to have such a strong interim leader in Sunder throughout this transition, and are actively supporting him as we search for a permanent replacement.”