TODAY

TODAY   |  May 15, 2013

SoulCycle workout inspires cult-like devotion

Unless you live in New York or California, you probably haven’t heard of SoulCycle, but you soon will. Started by two women who were looking for the perfect workout, the new take on indoor cycling will be expanding to cities across the country. NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now at 8:37. if you have not heard of the fitness craze soul cycle yet, get ready. it could be coming to your city soon. it was all started by two women who were simply looking for the perfect work out. nbc's mara schiavocampo has the story. i know you like the workout very much.

>> it's an obsession. it seemed like a pretty unlikely start to a successful business. two women who just met throwing together a fitness company on the fly. over seven years they have learned sometimes you have to think big but start small. for super spinner julie rice this isn't just a work out, it's work. seven years ago rice co-founded a unique brand of exercise calling her spin classes soul cycle. it's been a wild ride ever since.

>> we thought we could make exercise fun. we thought we could make it inspirational.

>> reporter: the philosophy is part spin --

>> you guys ready to rock and roll ?

>> reporter: part party. [ cheers ]

>> reporter: part meditation. 45 minutes of intense cardio set to high energy music, lit only by candles. to say it's popular would be an under statement.

>> it's a great mixture of cardio and strength.

>> it's the high i have never gotten from any place else.

>> reporter: the workout has a cult-like following including many celebrities. devoted fans consider it more of a lifestyle than a mere fitness class.

>> i come to soul cycle at least once a day, sometimes twice.

>> reporter: most days rice is riding right along with the pack.

>> i'm always moved by it. i'm never immune to it.

>> reporter: rice never thought she'd end up in the fitness business. the married mom of two spent most of her career as a hollywood talent manager. when she couldn't find the perfect workout, she decided to create it.

>> californians really exercise in a way that's so much more a part of their lifestyle. it's joyful. it's not about, i have to go to the gym, it's on my to-do list. when i came to new york i was looking for that experience.

>> reporter: rice started the company with elizabeth cudler, a virtual stranger she'd only just met.

>> it's when you meet a great guy. you just know. for me and julie we knew when we met we shared a common vision immediately.

>> reporter: they wrote their business plan on a napkin.

>> elizabeth whipped out a pen from the bottom of her purse. we said if we have this many bikes and we can get 75 people a day to come we can pay the rent, pay our babysitters and be passionate about what we are doing.

>> reporter: part of their vision, a laid back workplace where most people show up in gym clothes and are encouraged to get in one workout a day.

>> we think about creating a place where our kids would want to come to work, where people are going to grow up and have careers inside of a business that's getting larger and larger.

>> reporter: most of the staff is under 30.

>> women are incredible entrepreneurs. i think one of the reason is we manage households. when you're managing a household you can manage a small business .

>> reporter: what was once a small business now has more than 5,000 riders each day in 14 studios in california and new york.

>> studios don't have to be giant in the beginning. a small idea can be a small idea.

>> reporter: rice learned there were life lessons she could take from soul cycle classes.

>> i would encourage people not to overthink it. just do it. put one foot in front of the other and make it happen.

>> reporter: one workout putting a new spin on business and life. [ cheers and applause ]

>> there are no memberships to soul cycle. one of the first business decisions was to charge per class. that's a model popularized by yoga studios. over the next two years rice and her partner plan to quadruple the number of studios. i can tell you it becomes an addiction for some.

>> i think i burned 500 calories just watching that.