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Ruth Zukerman

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Ruth Zukerman
Zukerman at Ozy Fest in July 2018
EducationMount Holyoke College
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur, Author
Organization(s)Co-founder of SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports

Ruth Zukerman is co-founder of indoor cycling businesses SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports. She is also the author of Riding High: How I Kissed SoulCycle Goodbye, Co-Founded Flywheel, and Built the Life I Always Wanted, her memoir.

Early Life


Zukerman grew up in Roslyn, New York to a family of Polish, Russian, and German-Jewish heritage. Her father was a physician and her mother a psychotherapist.[1] She was a cheerleader and dancer in school, and majored in dance at Mount Holyoke College. Following graduation, she moved to New York City and took on a few brief stints with modern dance companies but did not ever make enough to remain in the city as a full-time dancer. After a few years trying to find dance work in New York City, she realized she needed to shift gears.

In the early 1980s, she got a job teaching aerobics on the Upper West Side of Manhattan after teaching classes there for a few months.[2] This experience was her first introduction to group fitness that led to her career, eventually leading her to take spin classes following a divorce. She found the classes to have a strong mental component and would leave classes feeling empowered. Eventually, she was encouraged by instructors at the Reebok club to become an instructor.



Five years into teaching at Reebok, Zukerman had become a popular instructor among the members of the club. Elizabeth Cutler, who was a member, proposed opening a boutique spin studio based on her method of teaching, asking her to be the face of the business. Julie Rice, also one of her riders and a friend, became the third co-founder upon Zukerman's suggestion. SoulCycle opened its first studio in 2006 on Manhattan's Upper West Side, pioneering the studio “pay per class” structure, which is now the predominant group fitness model.[2][3][4]

Zukerman founded SoulCycle at the age of 48. In a 2020 interview with Forbes, she reflected:

"...If I looked at myself at 42, I never in a million years thought I would start my own business. When I was approached about this idea of opening SoulCycle, I was more than ready and the opportunity was right. I had the confidence after having built my spin class for the past five years, I knew that I was on to something. I think it was a combination of my own evolution and the right circumstances at the right time.” [5]

Zukerman left SoulCycle in 2009. While she has been private about the reasoning behind her departure, she’s said she learned a valuable lesson from it. “Whenever you’re going into a business partnership with anybody, make sure you’re legally protected,” she said. “I did not do that and it cost me a lot.” [6]

Flywheel Sports


In 2009, Zukerman left SoulCycle to start Flywheel Sports with Jay Galluzzo and David Seldin. Flywheel opened in 2010. At Flywheel, rider metrics were added to the spin experience to create greater rider accountability through something called a “TorqBoard”, which measures rider resistance, cadence, and current and overall power output.[7] Zukerman credits this feature with changing the industry. Utilizing the TorqBoard, Flywheel has a leaderboard that shows riders how they compare to others during class. The company says this is for riders to measure their self-improvement and track their performance, with the company giving each rider a report of their progress after each class. [3][1]/.

Flywheel was sued by Peloton in September 2018 under the accusation that the company had copied Peloton’s at-home bike and leaderboard technology. The decision in the case rendered Flywheel’s at-home bikes unusable. In December 2018, Zukerman left Flywheel Sports.[8] In 2020, Flywheel Sports filed for bankruptcy due to economic strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the two-year legal battle with Peloton over patent infringement. [9]

Personal Life


In 2018, Zukerman published a memoir entitled Riding High: How I Kissed SoulCycle Goodbye, Co-Founded Flywheel, and Built the Life I Always Wanted, in which she recounts her story of perseverance and reinvention.[10] In more recent years, she has done public speaking engagements both through keynote addresses and interviews on podcasts. She is contracted through BrightSight Speakers, claiming “[she] is on a mission to connect people with one another and to our own inner strengths. She encourages us to embrace a positive, powerful attitude in both our lives and our careers. In her presentations, Ruth explains that we are not born with a fixed or finite amount of resilience. We can build resilience, like a muscle, every time we pick ourselves up after a setback.”.[11] Common topics in her speaking engagements include her path to co-founding SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports, advice for women in business, resilience, and reinvention. She has appeared in interviews with Forbes, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Wharton Business School, When to Jump on Spotify, Apple, and more.

Zukerman grew up in Roslyn, N.Y., in an affluent, predominately Jewish neighborhood. Zuckerman shares that she is very proud to be a Jew and it has become very important for her to raise her children Jewish. [6]

In 2018, Zukerman was the focus of a “Breaking Big” episode which chronicles her rise to success.[12]

Awards and Recognition


Zukerman was a 2022 Jewish Women International "Women to Watch" honoree. [13]


  1. ^ Miller, Gerri (July 11, 2018). "Ruth Zukerman Spins Cycling Into Success". Jewish Journal.
  2. ^ a b Ogunnaike, Nikki (June 16, 2016). "How One Woman Single-Handedly Changed the Indoor Cycling Game". Elle.
  3. ^ a b Schlossberg, Mallory (September 9, 2015). "One of Soul Cycle's founders turned on the brand and started its biggest rival". Business Insider.
  4. ^ Saint Louis, Catherine (October 8, 2010). "In New York, a Rivalry Shifts Into High Gear". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference Forbes was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference JJ was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference businessinsider was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ Biron, Bethany (January 19, 2019). "Competition has Flywheel and SoulCycle spiraling into an identity crisis". Vox. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference CNN was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference Macmillian was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ Cite error: The named reference Bright was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  12. ^ Cite error: The named reference IMDB was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  13. ^ Cite error: The named reference JWI was invoked but never defined (see the help page).