Business

Fitness chains SoulCycle and Equinox in Trump storm

SoulCycle's London launch Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The fashionable US chain launched in London in June

Fitness chains SoulCycle and Equinox have sought to distance themselves from a fundraising event for US President Donald Trump reportedly being planned by their billionaire owner.

The high-end gym and indoor cycling chain, famous for its celebrity clients, has faced a customer backlash over the event backed by Stephen Ross.

The firms said Mr Ross, head of Related Companies, was a "passive investor".

We "have nothing to do with the event and do not support it," they said.

According to the Washington Post, tickets for the event will cost $100,000 (£82,320) for lunch, and $250,000 for a package that includes a roundtable discussion with Trump.

The joint statement by Equinox and SoulCycle, whose clients include Hollywood celebrities and personalities like Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, said: "As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians," adding that the companies believe in "diversity, inclusion, and equality."

Equinox has a 97% stake in SoulCycle, which it bought in 2011.

Shannon Coulter, founder of the #GrabYourWallet movement, which urges Americans to stop shopping at companies connected with Mr Trump, tweeted that she was adding SoulCycle and Equinox to the boycott list.

A Change.org petition questioned Equinox's commitment to being a "safe space" for gay and lesbian customers and demanded the company end its support of Mr Trump.

"Everyone who cancels their Equinox and SoulCycle memberships, meet me at the library. bring weights," tweeted model Chrissy Teigen, who is a vocal critic of the US president.

Mr Ross, who also owns the Miami Dolphins, did not endorse Mr Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign, although he has praised him in an interview with Bloomberg.

No one from Related Companies was immediately available for comment, although in a statement to US broadcasters, including CNN and CBS, Mr Ross said: "I always have been an active participant in the democratic process. While some prefer to sit outside of the process and criticise, I prefer to engage directly and support the things I deeply care about.

"I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions."

Mr Ross added that he was "an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability", and would work with both Republicans and Democrats in support of these social liberties.

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