Exclusive: SoulCycle taps banks for 2015 IPO

(Reuters) - Indoor cycling fitness chain SoulCycle Holdings LLC has hired investment banks for a U.S. initial public offering expected to come later this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

A fitness instructor leads a SoulCycle class at their Union Square location in New York, April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

SoulCycle’s IPO preparations underscore the growing popularity of boutique chains that cater to specific workout methods such as spinning, yoga and barre. The chains, which often charge per class rather than a monthly membership fee, have been taking market share from traditional big-box gyms.

New York-based SoulCycle, which charges around $34 for a 45-minute spin session, is working with Goldman Sachs and Bank of America on the potential stock market flotation, the sources said this week.

An IPO filing under the U.S. JOBS Act, which allows small companies to file confidentially with regulators, could come as soon as this summer, the sources added. SoulCycle’s potential valuation could not be learned.

Since 2011, SoulCycle has been majority-owned by luxury gym chain Equinox Holdings, which is owned by real estate firm Related Cos and buyout firm Leonard Green & Partners LP.

The sources asked not to be identified because the IPO plans are confidential. SoulCycle, Equinox and Leonard Green did not respond to requests for comment. Related Cos, Goldman and Bank of America declined to comment.

Many SoulCycle classes led by popular instructors sell out within minutes, and customers pay up to $70 a class for perks such early registration.

Classes, including 60-minute Soul Survivor and 90-minute Soul Challenge, combine cardio with dance choreography and hand weights.

SoulCycle also has a retail clothing line, featuring sweatpants, zip-up shirts and tote bags with printed slogans and skull-and-crossbones.

SoulCycle has more than 42 U.S. locations, and plans to open 50 to 60 studios worldwide by next year, according to its website.

SoulCycle was founded in 2006 by former real estate broker Elizabeth Cutler and former talent agent Julie Rice, who opened their first studio on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

SoulCycle accounted for 12 percent of Equinox revenue in the 12 months ended September 2014, but is its fastest-growing segment, according to Moody’s Investors Service Inc.

Many traditional gym chains have struggled. Town Sports International Holdings Inc said in February it was exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale. Earlier this month, Life Time Fitness Inc was taken private by private equity firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green for more than $4 billion.

Fast-growing budget gym chain Planet Fitness filed for an IPO on Monday.

Additional reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe