I was able to connect with Harvey Spevak, CEO of Equinox. I have known Harvey socially for several years and I always been meaning to ask him how he built such a superior business. Fitness is such a crowded field and Harvey has been able to consistently dominate his competition. We discussed: his vision for business going forward, how he built a best in class business, balancing fitness with other priorities, technology as it relates to fitness and philanthropic causes that the company supports.
Forbes: What is your vision for the business going forward?
Spevak: Our vision goes hand-in-hand with our mission, which is to maximize the potential within people’s lives. That’s our higher purpose and the reason we show up every day. It’s also the driving force behind the decisions we make as we grow and strengthen—to be able to continue to deliver on that mission in bigger and better ways. Our people have and always will be at the center of Equinox’s success, and I am proud of the committed, empowered and passionate team we have built.
These are great times for us, and the Company is well-positioned across our portfolio of brands for continued growth, with some new opportunities in the works. Demand for our brands has never been greater and when we look at broader macro-trends, it is clear that “health is the new wealth” and people are more willing than ever to invest in a healthy and active lifestyle. Equinox has played a central role in defining and steering this conversation, offering members elevated experiences that anticipate their constantly evolving needs and interests.
We made a decision more than 25 years ago that Equinox would always be a leader, and this could not be more true today as we further embrace our entrepreneurial spirit. Equinox is at the center of the lifestyle conversation with continued innovation and high growth in new and existing markets. For example, we recently doubled our presence in London with E by Equinox in the St. James’s neighborhood of the capital. E St. James’s offers a new take on the Equinox experience within a masterfully designed club. A capped membership structure sets it apart, as do bespoke touches including our first-ever membership experience director, whose role is to curate and support each member’s journey within the club. In London, we have more aggressive plans for both Equinox and SoulCycle with more clubs and studios planned.
We’re also expanding the Equinox luxury lifestyle offering with the launch of Equinox Hotels in 2019. The hotel concept is predicated on the same mindset and philosophy as our clubs, and our first location will open in New York City in Hudson Yards in 2019, with other locations planned domestically and internationally. We’re redefining the luxury hotel experience as a seamless extension of a high-performance lifestyle, so Equinox Hotels is for the traveler who wants it all and knows that they CAN have it all.
Forbes: What motivated you to start at Equinox?
Spevak: I came to Equinox in 1998 because I saw a tremendous opportunity to turn four successful local NYC fitness clubs into a national—and now global—lifestyle brand. In just a few years, the brand had struck a chord with some of New York’s highest performing people, and I knew the time was right to take ownership of this concept and define a new category.
And we’re just warming up, with 92 Equinox Fitness Clubs now operating across three countries, a thriving SoulCycle community with 84 studios, 62 Blink gyms and a soon-to-launch Equinox Hotels brand.
What drives us now is what drove us then: leading and continually defining high performance living, results-oriented programming and inspiring our community. In our earlier years, fitness was viewed as a fleeting trend, but there’s been a monumental shift in the landscape. I often reflect with our real estate team about how in the 1990s we needed to convince landlords to lease us space, as compared to now, where we are aggressively pursued as an amenity or anchor tenant in new and exciting projects. It’s been inspiring to watch the world change around us as we continually evolve the ways in which we connect with our members, riders and soon hotel guests.
Forbes: What have you learned about building a best in class brand?
Spevak: We believe that building a leadership brand starts with a clear and differentiated point of view, vision and mission. At Equinox, we are THE authority and experts on high-performance living. We started with a vision: to empower people to maximize their potential and their lives. This is our true north, and we’ve never lost sight of what’s at our core, which is our community of members, riders and our employees.
Our brand is further defined by our unwavering commitment to innovating, disrupting and pushing boundaries, firmly positioning us in a category of one. We’re maniacal about executing the details and anticipating the wants and needs of our community. This tenacity has empowered us to create true leadership brands and identify new opportunities to build brands within our portfolio.
We know we must continually answer demand for the experiences we offer, and diversification of our offerings is important to our community and success. While we are currently growing in full-service fitness, boutique fitness and fast fitness, we’re playing the long ball to evaluate other opportunities, including the launch of Equinox Hotels.
We inspired and fueled the explosion of boutique fitness with the acquisition of SoulCycle, scaling it into the leading boutique fitness offering across the US and Canada. Simultaneously, we launched and segmented Blink Fitness to answer demand from a different corner of the market for an affordable, quality fitness offering. Looking ahead, our next big opportunity will be the launch of Equinox Hotels, which will redefine the concept of luxury travel to fit seamlessly into a holistic, healthy lifestyle.