A person wears a protective face mask outside Equinox Sports Club and gym on the Upper West Side as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 16, 2020 in New York City.
Noam Galai | Getty Images
SoulCycle parent company Equinox Group said Monday that its members, riders and staff will be required to show one-time proof of vaccination in order to enter its facilities, beginning early next month.
The company will kick off this effort in New York City, it said in a press release.
To get a sense of vaccination status, Equinox said it recently conducted a survey and found that 96% of its members reported already been vaccinated against Covid-19, along with 89% of employees.
The high-end fitness chain added that an “overwhelming majority” of its paying customers are in support of mandating vaccines in order to enter its clubs and cycling studios.
“We have a responsibility to take bold action and respond to changing circumstances with urgency,” said Equinox Group Executive Chairman Harvey Spevak. “We encourage other leading brands to join us in this effort to best protect our communities.”
The announcement comes the same day that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked private businesses, such as bars and restaurants, to require proof of vaccination as a condition for admission.
The number of daily Covid cases in New York has increased “four-fold” to more than 2,000 cases over the past month, as the highly contagious delta variant spreads, Cuomo said.
Equinox operates more than 100 fitness clubs globally, and 40 of them are in New York. The majority of its SoulCycle studios are also in the New York area.
A spokesperson said the company has made no changes to its mask policy, which is predicated on local guidelines. In New York, fully vaccinated visitors may remove their masks, while those who are not fully vaccinated are asked to still wear a face covering.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May said that fully vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear masks, Spevak told CNBC that there was a rush of people to sign up for new memberships and to use its facilities.
People who are eager to head back to the gym are likely tired of their at-home fitness routines, or lack equipment such as treadmills and weights. Many have also been missing the social aspect of a group fitness class.
The latest CDC guidance, however, has brought gym’s masking and vaccination policies back into question. The health organization is again recommending that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors and in places with high Covid transmission rates. The contagious delta variant has led to a resurgence of Covid cases in roughly two-thirds of the country.
The reversal could mean more people put their gym memberships on pause, or cancel them altogether.
It could also mean chains take a tougher stance on their own guidance, as Equinox has done.
Representatives from Planet Fitness, Life Time Fitness and Crunch Fitness didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.