Equinox, SoulCycle would require proof of vaccination from September

A person wears a protective face mask in front of the Equinox Sports Club and gym on the Upper West Side as the city resumes Phase 4 reopening following restrictions imposed in New York City on August 16, 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

SoulCycle’s parent company, Equinox Group, announced Monday that its members, drivers and employees will be required to provide a one-time vaccination certificate to enter their facilities from early next month.

The company will start this effort in New York City, it said in a press release.

To get a feel for the vaccination status, Equinox recently conducted a survey and found that 96% of its members and 89% of its employees are already vaccinated against Covid-19.

The high-end fitness chain added that an “overwhelming majority” of their paying customers support mandating vaccines to enter their clubs and cycling studios.

“We have a responsibility to take bold action and respond urgently to changing circumstances,” said Harvey Spevak, Executive Chairman, Equinox Group. “We encourage other leading brands to join us in these efforts to best protect our communities.”

The announcement comes the same day New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged private businesses like bars and restaurants to require proof of vaccination as a prerequisite for approval.

The number of daily Covid cases in New York “quadrupled” to more than 2,000 cases in the past month as the highly contagious Delta variant is spreading, Cuomo said.

Equinox operates more than 100 fitness clubs worldwide, including 40 in New York. Most of the SoulCycle studios are also located in the New York area.

A spokesman said the company made no changes to its mask policy, which is based on local guidelines. In New York, visitors who are fully vaccinated are allowed to remove their masks, while visitors who are not fully vaccinated are asked to keep wearing face-covering.

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in May that fully vaccinated people would no longer need to wear masks, Spevak told CNBC that there was a rush of people signing up for new memberships and using its facilities.

People eager to get back to the gym are likely tired of their home fitness routines or lacking equipment like treadmills and weights. Many also missed the social aspect of a group fitness course.

However, the latest CDC guidelines have again challenged the gym’s masking and vaccination guidelines. The health organization recommends that those who have been fully vaccinated again wear masks indoors and in places with high Covid transmission rates. The contagious Delta variant has led to a resurgence of Covid cases in around two-thirds of the country.

The reverse could mean more people are pausing or canceling their gym memberships altogether.

It could also mean chains are taking a tougher stance on their own leadership, like Equinox did.

A spokesman for Crunch Fitness said the gym operator is actively monitoring the situation with the Delta variant and will continue to allow vaccinated members to exercise mask-free unless there is a local regulation that requires indoor face coverings.

Planet Fitness and Life Time Fitness representatives did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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