We at Brit + Co love technology, obviously. But we all know about the pitfalls of, say, binge-watching and the inner clarity and calm that can come from a digital detox. So when SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan says, at Re:Make 2016, that one of the keys to her company’s massive, mind-boggling success and growth is that it gives its clients the opportunity — and permission — to disconnect for 45 minutes to invest in themselves… well, let’s just say, it makes some sense.

melanie whelan

Some fans of SoulCycle liken the national fitness chain (probably jokingly) to a cult; Whelan sees it (non-jokingly) as a community. “The community element of what you experience in the lobbies is what keeps people coming back,” she says, and given the behemoth that is SoulCycle, she’s probably onto something. When an inductee of Fortune magazine’s inimitable 40 Under 40 list shares a secret to her entrepreneurial success, you’d best be listening!

Then there’s the experience of the classes themselves. The music played during each 45-minute stationary cycling class is encouraging and, like, way danceable. The locker rooms are designed to be practical and functioning, down to the USB mobile device charging stations. The merchandise is arranged just-so. Everything about the experience, from the moment you walk into a SoulCycle studio, is meant to promote community and self-investment.

“Our instructors give so much of themselves in each class,” she explained onstage, and when she asked the audience whether any SoulCycle instructors were present, a handful of SoulCycle instructors made their presence known. But the energy, as Whelan explained it, isn’t accidental. As she puts it, building a company that exudes positive energy means investing in staff so that they can succeed. Fancy that: Invest in staff, and then they’ll help clients make the time to invest in themselves. Now go ahead and build your empire.

Have you ever rocked a SoulCycle class? Tell us where @britandco!

(Photos via Chris Andre)