Riders quit SoulCycle in SF after concerns of connection to Trump fundraiser

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Popular luxury workout spots SoulCycle and Equinox are facing major backlash, after reports surfaced that their real estate developer owner, is throwing a fundraiser for President Trump.

"Please cancel class today," shouted San Francisco activist, Ian Lobell, who held up a sign in front of SoulCycle's Union Street location that said "SoulCyclers support kids in cages." He pleaded with riders to cancel their class and ask for refunds.

RELATED: Equinox, SoulCycle respond to concerns over owner's elite Trump fundraiser in Hamptons

"That young lady supports children in cages," he said as a woman walked into the spin studio.

A boycott of SoulCycle and luxury gym chain, Equinox, spread across the country Monday, after reports surfaced that their owner, Stephen Ross, is holding a fundraiser for President Trump's reelection campaign in the Hamptons this week.

"People need to snap out of it," said Lobell, who added, "You know what, they can cancel a class, they can cancel a gym membership, they can make a phone call, they can boycott with their dollars."

Celebrities on Twitter, like Billy Eichner, said they were cancelling Equinox memberships. And once riders in San Francisco learned of the Trump-Soul connection, many started backpedalling on their loyalty to the cult workout.

"I certainly don't want to support Donald Trump in any way, even if it's indirectly. I have really strong feelings about that, so I probably won't be coming back, until SoulCycle does something about that," said Diane Dorn after a class at SoulCycle Monday night.

Laura Kaye says she started spinning at SoulCycle 10 years ago in New York City, but has no problem quitting after what she learned about the Stephen Ross fundraiser.

"When you find something out that you don't agree with, you can't keep supporting them. So, there's Flywheel, there's other companies that do just as good a job as SoulCycle, so I'll give them my money instead."

SoulCycle and Equinox put out statements on social media, that say they have "nothing to do" with the political fundraising event, that "no company profits are used to fund politicians", and that "Mr. Ross is a passive investor and not involved with the management of either business."




The distancing however, did little to deter either protest in San Francisco.

"We want corporate America to stop funding Donald Trump and his hatred," said activist Michael Petrelis, who organized the Castro protest, where he brought a piñata shaped like Donald Trump, with an impeachment sign attached.

Stephen Ross put out a statement that says he's known Donald Trump for 40 years and supports leaders on both sides of the aisle. He said "he's an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, and diversity." The statement made no mention of the fundraiser or the boycott against his gyms.

Ross issued the following statement:
"I always been an active participant in the democratic process. While some prefer to sit outside of the process and criticize, 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.

I started my business with nothing and a reason for my engagement with our leaders is my deep concern for creating jobs and growing our country's economy. I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability, and I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges."
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.