SoulCycle to open Center City studio on March 7

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SoulCycle, the indoor cycling and lifestyle brand that's been on an expansion run, will open a fitness studio in Center City Square on March 7 as its 74th location nationally.

SoulCycle, the indoor cycling and lifestyle brand that has been on an expansion run, will open a fitness studio in Center City on March 7 as its 74th location nationally.

The arrival of SoulCycle reflects the city’s ongoing transformation into a hip destination with a demographic increasingly skewing younger. National retailers have been moving in to capitalize on this shift and accommodate the millennial lifestyle.

Health and fitness centers, as well as chain restaurants and apparel retailers, have been a popular draw in the last couple of years, pushing Center City retail rental rates to new highs.

This will be SoulCycle’s second Philadelphia-area studio in less than a year.  It opened one at Suburban Square in Ardmore last summer.

“We always look for active and vibrant communities to open in, and Philly is just that,” said Gabby Etrog Cohen, senior vice president of PR and brand strategy for privately held SoulCycle. “The response [to the Ardmore studio] has been so incredible that we knew Rittenhouse would be a runaway success.”

SoulCycle Rittenhouse Square at 113 S. 16th St., a few blocks from the square, will be a 5,471-square-foot studio in a standalone building  near another branded fitness chain, Flywheel Sports, 1521 Locust St.

The square footage for SoulCycle is evenly split between two levels. Inside will be 58 bikes and a lifestyle boutique selling SoulCycle’s clothing line and accessories, as well as men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers.

Its neighbors on 16th Street include Under Armour, Honeygrow, and H&M near the heart of the hot Chestnut/Walnut shopping corridor.

The SoulCycle deal represents two trends in the city, said Douglas J. Green, managing principal at MSC Retail, who brokered the transaction. First, it's an "iconic brand and culture, one that sharply targets an educated, health-conscious customer with a high disposable income. Ten years ago, there simply wasn't enough of that [kind of] customer in Philadelphia.”

Green said "the city’s cost of living, proximity to New York City and Washington, D.C., and growth in restaurants, the arts, and shopping  also have helped us retain college graduates"  and attract others.

Andi Pesacov, senior director of retail services for Cushman & Wakefield, who recently handled the deal to bring a City Fitness health club to the Sterling Building at 1815 John F. Kennedy Blvd., said fitness studios are a huge draw for their size and convenience.

"Studios are not full-service gyms," she noted. "They are the quick-serve style of fitness gyms, in and out in under 55 minutes, concentrating on one class type and mastering it.” 

SoulCycle classes in Philly will cost $30 per 45-minute session. In its ads, the brand boasts of a celebrity following (Madonna, Bradley Cooper) and that more than 16,000 riders a day take SoulCycle classes in the United States. 

It’s known for its bike rides that engage participants in high-intensity cardio, while toning their upper bodies using hand weights in a candlelit studio with background music.

“SoulCycle's arrival has been a long time coming, and it really cements how far Philadelphia has come in the fitness/retail sector,” said MSC broker Brittany Goldberg, who worked with Green on the deal.

“Just like the more experiential retail stores that have recently opened in Philly [Bonobos, Warby Parker], SoulCycle represents how the Philadelphia consumer is demanding a much more unique and sophisticated experience within their active life as well,” she said. 

Since its 2006 launch, SoulCycle has followed an aggressive growth plan, opening 10 to 15 stores  annually across the U.S. The brand plans to add a half-dozen  locations this year, expanding to upward of 80 with more studios in New York, California, Texas, Seattle, Boston, and beyond. 

"Dedicated, single-purpose fitness options, like spinning studios, kickboxing, and yoga are gaining in popularity, forcing the full-service gyms to also step up their classroom offerings," said Steven H. Gartner, commercial real estate firm CBRE's managing director for retail services, who signed SoulCycle to the Suburban Square location last year.