Talking business and Detroit with Judy Turchin, COO of Equinox Fitness Clubs.
By Adam Finkel
A month ago, Equinox Fitness Clubs opened its first Michigan location in Bloomfield Hills.
Equinox Executive Chairman Harvey Spevak said, “Equinox was founded on the premise that fitness can power, and empower, a community of high-performance individuals, and Bloomfield Hills certainly embodies that ethos.”
Spevak is an alum of the University of Michigan and member of the Ross School Advisory Board at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, where he has been philanthropically involved. Native Detroiter Stephen Ross is chairman of the board of Equinox and a majority owner of the business. Ross, chairman and founder of Related Companies, and owner of the Miami Dolphins, is also an active philanthropist who has pledged $328 million to U-M.
In addition to the Equinox brand, the company also owns PURE Yoga, Blink Fitness, The Yorkville Club and SoulCycle, which amounts to more than 135 locations in major cities across the United States in addition to London, Toronto and Vancouver. A year ago, the company took a minority interest in Rumble Boxing.
Equinox began in 1991 with its first location in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The new location in Bloomfield Hills — at 47,000 square feet — features dedicated space for cardio, cycling, yoga and Pilates. There are now more than 100 Equinox gyms around the world and almost 20,000 employees across all brands.
To learn more about the company’s vision for its Detroit location, we spoke with Chief Operating Officer Judy Turchin, who lives in New York City.
Q: What is the significance of Equinox entering the greater Detroit area?
JT: It’s a testament to the demand for the Equinox offering. We’re seeing wallet share amongst all demographic groups shift from goods to experiences, which, for our business, has always been the core offering and continues to figure positively.
Q: What attracts you to the location you chose in Bloomfield Hills?
JT: We’ve been looking at the Detroit metro area for quite a while, as there are no holistic healthy lifestyle options available to the high-performing clientele here.
Coming in, we immediately recognized that our brand awareness is strong for a market where we have previously no presence due to a strong connection among both the New York, Chicago and Southern California markets.
As many urban dwellers transition back to their home state of Michigan to start families after stints in primary urban markets, they are thrilled to have the Equinox brand, which they have come to know and trust available to them where they put down roots so they can continue their high-performance journey.
Q: What are your broader plans for Equinox in Michigan?
JT: The growth of the Detroit area has been inspiring to watch, and demand for our offering in the market continues. We don’t currently have any plans for expansion in Michigan, but we’re always looking for the right opportunity.
Q: How do you differentiate yourself from the competing clubs near your Bloomfield Hills location?
JT: The concept of “fitness as lifestyle” may be trending today, but it’s a mindset that Equinox has architected — and led — since its inception in 1991. A membership at Equinox is more than just access to a fitness club, as our members become part of an experience, a lifestyle and a community — both locally and on a global scale. Our mission is to empower life maximization, and we know that for our high-performance clientele, this is so much more than the miles they log on the treadmill.
Grounded in the core tenets of movement, nutrition and regeneration and backed by a health advisory board of industry-leading experts across these disciplines, Equinox offers a holistic approach to fitness rather than just a place to work out. Delivered in a design-driven environment conceived by the world’s leading architects and designers, the result is a suite of services and amenities, all under one roof, well beyond the typical fitness experience.
Members can spend their entire day with us as they engage in personal training akin to holistic lifestyle coaching, community-based special events, a spa geared toward recovery, an app centered on goals and personalization, spaces for co-working and fostering community, curated athleisure apparel at our shops and cafes where members can refuel. With luxury travel experiences and Equinox Hotels opening this spring, we’re now meeting our members outside the four walls of our clubs in a meaningful way.
Q: Was former Detroiter Stephen Ross involved in your expansion into the market?
JT: As majority owner of Equinox, Stephen was involved in evaluating the location/deal and was a strong proponent due to his knowledge of the local market.
Q: How do you feel the larger macro market trends will most influence the Equinox model over the next few years?
JT: At a time where “lifestyle brand” has become an industry buzzword, our businesses have stayed consistently dedicated to principles that others now strive to embody across their brands. From a macro trend perspective, health is the new wealth and the concept of “luxury” has evolved monumentally to include self-care.
Experience, personalization, community, authenticity, style — once qualities that were considered outliers in business — are core to our mission, which is to help members maximize the potential in their own lives.
Q: Are there any particular aspects of your Jewish upbringing that have inspired your success as an entrepreneur or your impact as a philanthropist?
JT: As a first-generation American and child of Holocaust survivors, I learned very early on the value of hard work and being self-sufficient. Those teachings from my parents, coupled with their emphasis on the importance of education, have been the critical building blocks to my career and success.