The recently filed class-action lawsuit against the indoor cycling chain SoulCycle for allegedly violating California and New York wage laws could have a huge impact on the health and fitness industry. We're fascinated by it and are watching to see how it progresses. The complaint, filed by a former SoulCycle instructor, claims that SoulCycle instructors - who are paid only for the classes they teach - are "required to work above and beyond the time instructing a class." Their duties include training, preparation, communication with customers, meetings, special-event classes and assisting with marketing.employee vs. contractor thing is already a hot issue between the IRS and health clubs, and it would only get worse as more clubs protected themselves by converting employees into contractors. Instructors and trainers would have to show up, teach and leave. There would be no worries about additional duties, because contractors are in business for themselves. The other option for club owners would be to accommodate this notion of paying for everything. Everyone would have a low hourly wage and get paid, say, an extra half-hour to prep and an extra half-hour to schmooze with members. But they'd take home exactly the same amount of money, if not less. Superstar instructors wouldn't like it, nor would personal trainers who get paid on a percentage of the revenue they generate. We don't know what SoulCycle pays, but our guess is that they pay in line or better than their competitors. Their facilities are high-end and exclusive. Their classes and their instructors are highly regarded. We imagine that most of their instructors feel like fitness rock stars. This lawsuit could force them to be treated like everybody else. That wouldn't be good for SoulCycle's instructors. And it wouldn't be good for our industry.
- by Rob Bishop and Barry Klein
- May 2013