If you’re looking to strap into an exercise bike and get yelled at by an instructor for 45 minutes straight, there’s no shortage of spinning studios in New York City where you can find what you’re looking for: SoulCycle, FlyWheel, Peloton, to start. For a while, there was even an Imax spin studio in DUMBO, but it’s since closed down and been replaced with a new establishment called Rhythm Ryde. The studio bills itself as “an all-encompassing community” that offers “several avenues for community, fitness, and mind-body synergy” so that you can “lose yourself and be able to center your mind in order to take on the outside world.” But, as a tipster pointed out to the Cut, there’s something curious going on with Rhythm Ryde, beyond the fact that they spell ride with a y. For this, we turn to their Yelp page — the crowdsourced review site that always serves as a reliable breeding ground for drama — where our tipster says they’ve been “terrorizing” anyone who leaves a negative review.
In order to establish itself in the neighborhood, Rhythm Ryde has been offering free classes. This is a fine and good business practice. What is not a fine and good business practice, however, is everything that follows.
Take, for instance, a Yelp user named Christina L, who left them a one-star review on July 25. In it, she says she’s a frequent spinner, and was disappointed by what she found was a late-running and “disorganized” experience. On July 30, she posted a screengrab of what she says is a private message from Rhythm Ryde — addressed to “Ms. ‘Supposedly Frequent Spinner’” — in which the company decided to review her. Some of their notes included “you were not on beat nor the correct foot, let’s not begin on your form,” “you seem to be used to not working out correctly,” and “I can assure you; you are not a frequent spinner.”
They also replied to her publicly the following day, with a slightly softer comment that read, in part, “Maybe be a bit less disparaging to someone that offers you a free class.”
On July 30, another user named Charisma D. left a one-star review, saying that she hadn’t taken a class but did not appreciate receiving emails from a list she had not subscribed to. She also said she was “repulsed” by Rhythm Ryde’s response to Christina L. Rhythm Ryde took a few weeks to respond this time, replying on August 12 and writing “being condescending like Christina is pretty obnoxious, so we will take this super slow for you since you support her methodology of putting people down.” They also mocked her for not being able to figure out how to unsubscribe from the email list, then, for some reason, quoted Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi.
Finally, we come to August 16, when Rachel L. also left a one-star review, this time calling the class “average” and the instructor “really arrogant.” Once again, Rhythm Ryde replied, writing, “Thank you for the review. Although it was well written and thought-out, it doesn’t mean you are correct or accurate. It is an opinion. With that said, why can’t we review you back? Why is it fair for you or anyone else to write a review without comment? You can dish it out, but can’t take it? Pretty entitled, no?” They also dismissed the entire reviewing platform.
Rhythm Ryde has also responded to the positive reviews, in which they invoke 50 Cent lyrics and quote the movie Swingers and the character Elsa from Frozen.
We reached out to Rhythm Ryde for comment and Joseph Foley, the co-founder, replied to confirm that he was in fact the one leaving the comments. He gave an explanation as to why, writing, “in an industry that is extremely saturated, we still don’t believe that we need to please everyone.”
You can read his statement in full, below:
It all came down to the first review stating: “She has one job.” I was shocked not by the comment of the class starting late, but more so by the entitled mentality of this person. Who doesn’t realize that there is more to a person than that two-minute exchange. Not only is that extremely crude, it is my opinion that it was rude and disrespectful, regardless if it is my company. The reviewer then proceeded to degrade everything, but the actual class.
I have been called pompous, a douche bag (apparently Yelp took that review down), shameful, a bully, etcetera in these reviews, when all we have done is self-fund a project and teach something that can and will compete against the 700-pound gorilla in the industry, Soulcycle. Yet, I am the bully here.
In an industry that is extremely saturated, we still don’t believe that we need to please everyone, so after the first review, we found it comical about us being the bully when each review thereafter started attacking, degrading or insulting the company, as well as myself and my partner with the majority never taking a class.
As it continued, we saw that our society and culture and the idea that “The Customer is Always Right” is not always accurate nor correct. The internet allows for everyone to have an opinion, which is fine, and Yelp brings that platform, but those opinions are one-sided. Why is that fair? Life is not one sided. It is a very narrow way of looking at things. The mentality to insult and criticize someone without a counter-argument is pretty arrogant and juvenile in a public form shaming an individual, a company, and its employees.
To sit there and take it on the chin without responding is not what we are about. We are about carrying yourself in a dignified manner and standing up for yourself and what you believe in because you deserve that to empowerment and not to belittled.
At the end of the day, I responded to the reviews, yes, but in all the negative reviews, no one actually complained about the class, who actually took it. There was no actual evidence. I did research on the reviewer’s prior to responding, such as the first reviewer and they were all flawed. She said she was a frequent spinner, yet only started spinning in May at another company, which was in her reviews. Starting to spin in May of this year should not make you an expert in this field, so basically, we just call people out on their bs.