Benjamin Goggin / Business Insider
- Equinox is donating $1 million to charities in the aftermath of a wave of backlash, executive chairman Harvey Spevak announced in an email to members of the trendy gym brand on Thursday.
- Equinox faced boycott threats last week when news broke that chairman Stephen Ross was scheduled to host a fundraiser for President Donald Trump.
- "The last week has been difficult for all," Spevak wrote in an email Thursday to Equinox members. "I am sorry for the impact it has had on our community – and I’m sorry we haven’t said more."
- Equinox members will vote on how the $1 million donation will be allocated when they visit the gym in the coming weeks.
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Equinox is donating $1 million to charity in the wake of backlash over its chairman’s ties to President Donald Trump.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that Stephen Ross was scheduled to hold a fundraiser for Trump at his home in the Hamptons. Ross is the founder and chairman of the real-estate company Related Cos., which owns Equinox, Blink Fitness, and SoulCycle.
Equinox faced a wave of backlash over Ross’ ties to Trump. Many members threatened to quit the trendy fitness brand and called for others to do the same.
On Thursday, Equinox’s executive chairman Harvey Spevak sent an email out to members of the gym.
"The last week has been difficult for all," Spevak wrote. "I am sorry for the impact it has had on our community – and I’m sorry we haven’t said more. We have not been ignoring the situation. I have been in our clubs listening to our teams and members."
In the email, Spevak writes that Equinox will make a $1 million donation split between five charities: cancer research group Cycle for Survival, veterans’ nonprofit The Heroes Project, Alzheimer’s research group Move for Minds, foster care charity The Felix Organization, and LGBTQ house ballroom community group House Lives Matter.
Equinox members will be able to vote for which groups get the most funding by visiting the gym.
From August 17 to August 31, " every check-in will be an opportunity for our members and employees to select how our donation will be allocated among the causes," according to the email. Presumably, those who end their boycotts and boost their gym visits will have the most sway in deciding which charities get the biggest payouts.
Read Spevak’s full email to the Equinox community here:
To our Equinox Community –
The last week has been difficult for all. I am sorry for the impact it has had on our community – and I’m sorry we haven’t said more. We have not been ignoring the situation. I have been in our clubs listening to our teams and members. I really appreciate the open and honest feedback I received. It’s been heartfelt and, in many instances, emotional. I’m proud that even during this difficult time our community is one that listens and respects each other.
Many of you have asked for clarification on Stephen Ross’s investment in Equinox. Mr. Ross is not the majority investor in Equinox. He is one of the investors including myself. He does not run the company. I do. I am the Executive Chairman of Equinox and have led the vision and strategic direction of the company since I joined in 1999. Our focus has always been about building a community centered on our values, not politics.
When I joined Equinox over 20 years ago, I worked with our then small team to create values that would guide us forward. They are the foundation of our culture, a culture based on equality, diversity, inclusivity, integrity, empathy and mutual respect. A community where everyone is welcome.
We live our values every day, which means giving back to the communities that have given us so much. We have helped Cycle for Survival raise $42 million for rare cancer research this year alone. We have trained injured veterans returning from war zones to climb the seven highest summits through The Heroes Project. We have partnered with Move for Minds to raise funds and awareness around brain health and women-based Alzheimer’s research. We have worked with The Felix Organization, a charity focused on enriching lives of children in foster care. And we have been a proud partner of House Lives Matter, supporting the House Ballroom Community comprised of sexual and gender minority people of color (LGBTQ and gender non-conforming). Every one of these commitments was started with a single idea reflecting the priorities of our members and employees.
While I don’t have all the answers, what we have heard from many of you is that you would like Equinox to immediately help amplify your voice in support of causes we as a community have always held close. As a next step, Equinox will make a $1 million donation to benefit the five charities mentioned above. From August 17 through August 31, every check-in will be an opportunity for our members and employees to select how our donation will be allocated among the causes.
I want to thank our amazing team and all they do in service of you, our members. It pains me to see how this has been impacting them and I am truly grateful for their commitment, passion and dedication. We will continue to listen to your thoughts and ideas, and while we have a lot of work to do, I am confident that together we will come out a stronger community.
EQUINOX | Executive Chairman, Managing Partner
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