The day after the election was a time for celebration for some and a time for mourning for others. You'd think mourning might involve pints of Ben & Jerry's—but, according to SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan, it involved hard-core cycling. "We had some of the busiest days in the history of our company in the four days after the election," she said at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Nov. 29. "We found that SoulCycle was a place to disconnect."
That notion of a workout club as a "place to connect and heal and cry" is not how most people think of SoulCycle—but it's the way Whelan thinks she can give the 66-location chain staying power beyond spinning. "We say we are in the business of personal transformation," she says.
The company continues to grow, opening 10 to 15 studios annually, and is now poised to open its first international location in Toronto. But although it filed to go public back in July 2015, there is still no IPO on the horizon, Whelan says. "Right now we are in a holding pattern, based on market conditions."
In the meantime, Whelan must continue to keep the company fresh, even as many competitors dot the horizon. "The bike today is really just the vessel and think we could extend the brand into new ways," she says. "Internally, we think about this as a hospitality business." To succeed, of course, she will need to attract not only the election mourners but also everyone else.