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Gabby Etrog Cohen, Brand Chief and PR at SoulCycle
The woman who once outwardly hated spin class now heads up brand experience at international wellness brand, SoulCycle. We sat down with Gabby Etrog Cohen to discuss the SoulCycle experience, her views on integrating family life and work life, and her must-have workout accessories.
MELISSA: You were one of the first SoulCycle team members. How does it feel to have watched the brand flourish and become a community and a haven for so many people?
GABBY: I was recruited on LinkedIn having not heard much about SoulCycle. I met the founders and fell in love with the whole package. I was the 5th corporate employee. We had 4 studios, a very New York only thing. What got me hooked was the experience and the people. It is really about making people’s lives better. The mission still today is about helping people live their best life and helping them discover that it’s within themselves.
In the last 7 years, my main focus has been finding ways to stay true to that mission and tell that story in an authentic way. We are a word-of-mouth brand. We just started doing paid [advertising] in the last year. I’ve really been focused on scaling experience through people and telling really good stories. It’s those great stories that get people in the door and the experience that sells them.
MELISSA: Were you always into spinning?
GABBY: I hated spinning! My husband and I went on a bike trip years ago with his dad and I had been training by spinning at a big box gym. I hated it. I knew I had to train though. When I went to my first SoulCycle class I was thinking to myself that I wasn’t going to take the job because I hated spinning. But, I took the class and realized that it wasn’t actually spinning, it was a spiritual experience. That’s what got me.
MELISSA: How do you feel SoulCycle converts people?
GABBY: I think it is definitely story-telling. Hospitality is so key. The moment you come in those doors, you are greeted by people who are genuinely happy to see you. The experience starts well before you are in the room. It’s about the smell, the color, the light, the team members at the front desk, the hospitality, and everything combined really priming you for a cathartic, musical, physical, mental experience. It’s the combination rather than just one thing that makes the difference.
MELISSA: What do instructors have to have to be a part of the SoulCycle team?
GABBY: One of the founders asked early on in the SoulCycle journey: “Is this instructor someone I want to spend 45 minutes with outside of class? Do I want to have lunch with them? Do they have charisma? Can they motivate me?”. And that is the most important thing. So many of our instructors are dancers or actors, coaches. It is about finding people who can be motivating and inspire you to be the best version of yourself.
Hospitality is so key. The moment you come in those doors, you are greeted by people who are genuinely happy to see you.
MELISSA: How did you guys introduce apparel to SoulCycle?
GABBY: It started as a marketing tool. The founders had some budget and could either spend it on a flat magazine ad or we could buy 100 t-shirts. They were yellow camo with a wheel on them and we gave them away to our clients. New York started to want to know about us and what these shirts were about. We saw that this could be a retail business success as well as a marketing tool.
Now we do 14 collections a year. We drop new pieces throughout the months. We see people 3-5 times a week so there had to be constant newness. It started as apparel you would wear to the class, but now it’s sweatpants, sweatshirts, and jackets. We just did a cookie with MilkBar. We did a partnership with Le Labo and created a travel kit. We have pompoms that people are putting on their backpacks. There is an appetite for more than what you would just wear to class.
MELISSA: What is your morning routine?
GABBY: I get up, order Starbucks on the mobile app, and walk the dog to pick it up. I come back to get the kids ready for school and drop them off, before heading to a Soul class. 90% of the time I shower at a SoulCycle location. Now that we have the Le Labo products, my life is so much easier. They are so nice!
In between all of my morning routine, I’m checking emails and Instagram.
MELISSA: Do you have a particular beauty product obsession?
GABBY: I’m a beauty product junkie. It’s funny because I normally don’t wear makeup. I love trying new products and testing things. Right now, I am super into this Peter Thomas Roth moisturizer. It has been working really well for my adult acne. I am also obsessed with Vitner’s Daughter night serum. My mom always told me “Do not leave the house without blush”. It makes you feel alive. I use two Kevyn Aucoin cream blushes that I don’t leave the house without.
MELISSA: What are your must-have accessories for a spin class?
GABBY: First, my favorite leggings are the Lululemon Align Pant. I have them in every color, cropped and full length. I also have about 14 elastics (which are free) on my wrist to pull my hair back.
MELISSA: How would you describe your personal style? How does it differ from your work style?
GABBY: I’m super sporty and always have been. I’m a sneaker-head. I love glitter, shine, and pops of pink. So sporty meets sparkle. I wear leggings 80% of the day because we can. You can wear leggings with a cute sneaker, a fun top, and throw on a few necklaces. That’s an easy look for work.
MELISSA: How do you find the balance between Badass Girl Boss and Mom?
GABBY: My CEO taught me this: it’s about integration because it’s not a balance. You just figure out ways to make your kids a part of your work life and your work life a part of your home and family life. My kids love SoulCycle and being there. But it’s also important to be able to disconnect from work and put my phone away so I can really be present with them. At the end of the day, the last thing I want them to do is mimic me (which they have done), about Mommy being on the phone. I feel like an overgrown kid, so it’s important for me to be with them and do activities for all of us. I do my best every day and try not to judge myself.
Every Sunday I go to the nail salon, get a foot massage, and clear my email inbox so I can go in Monday with a clean slate. That’s my treat to myself.
MELISSA: What songs are on your workout playlist?
GABBY: I’m a huge Broadway fan. I was a theatre major in college so that’s still a part of who I am. So it’s really a mix. I also grew up in New York in the late 80’s – early 90’s. The Beastie Boys and Wu-Tang Clan are a part of that.
MELISSA: If we raided your closet, which accessory would we find the most of?
GABBY: Sneakers, bags, and jewelry.
MELISSA: What is currently in your bag?
GABBY: I always have 10 lip balms and a few pink lipsticks. There is also blush, toys and snacks for my kids, my wallet, my phone, and 100 receipts that are flying everywhere. I am a walking hot mess when it comes to my bag!