Spin cycle: Ivanka, Michelle and DC's cycling studios

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: First lady Michelle Obama (C) greets (L-R) Ivanka Trump, Vanessa Trump and Jared Kushner as she arrives for the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.

Story highlights

  • DC's indoor cyclers fall into two camps: Flywheel and SoulCycle
  • Michelle Obama goes to SoulCycle, Ivanka Trump goes to Flywheel

(CNN)Let's be real -- Washington isn't exactly a destination for celebrity sightings. But the shared hobby of the District's most high-profile women, Michelle Obama and Ivanka Trump, has local indoor cycling studios abuzz.

Washington's boutique indoor cyclers fall into two distinct camps, with minimal overlap: SoulCycle and Flywheel.
SoulCycle is a candlelit spin workout with dance moves aboard the bike and an emphasis on mantra. Flywheel features stadium seating with a technology component that tracks metrics and allows cyclers to compete for points based on speed and resistance. (Full disclosure: this writer is an unlimited monthly member at Flywheel.)
    Both studios charge around $30 a class, which are typically 45 minutes long. Another thing both studios have in common: a no cell phone policy, a rare and welcome sight amid tech-obsessed Washingtonians.
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      First family shows new look at White House


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    And as the new administration settles in and tensions run high after a bruising 2016 campaign, Flywheel has taken further steps to keep politics out of the studio.
    Flywheel founder Ruth Zukerman, who was also a co-founder of SoulCycle, sent her team of instructors an email last week on the topic.
    "I wanted to reinforce that ... probably in DC more than ever, people need to have that break from everything that's going on in the world," she said, describing an email she sent to instructors.
    That said, the political will sometimes find its way into class.
    Michelle Obama's top moments as first lady
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      Michelle Obama's top moments as first lady


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    Stylistically, Flywheel is the conservative workout, SoulCycle, the liberal -- the former focused on individual merits, the latter, on a collective mantra.
    And while the founders of both studios are all registered Democrats, per public records, Republicans, Democrats and reporters alike can be seen on bikes across the District. Some operatives even have been known to grace the instructor seat.
    In 2016, the Clinton campaign held a fundraiser at SoulCycle's TriBeCa location, attended by Chelsea Clinton. The fundraiser was originally billed as a $2,700-a-head event, but with about 60 seats to fill, some attendees were able to snag tickets at the last minute for $50. (Flywheel does charity rides, primarily focused on health causes like breast cancer and heart disease. "We want to treat everybody equally, but from a brand standpoint, with philanthropy, political probably isn't a good avenue," Jake Spitz, Flywheel vice president of business development, said.)
    SoulCycle did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

    Michelle Obama -- SoulCycle

    Former first lady and workout guru Michelle Obama was herself in camp SoulCycle during her time in the White House, and was often spotted by star-struck Washingtonians coming and going from class. She has arranged her own private sessions outside normal class hours.
    Unsurprisingly, the attendance of such high-profile clientele can be a big boost for boutique workout facilities. Michelle Obama was also an early advocate for DC's [solidcore] studios, which has been ranked as one of the toughest workouts in the city -- and probably one of the priciest, at $37 per class. (Ivanka Trump also recently went to a [solidcore] class under an alias -- and founder Anne Mahlum posted about it publicly on Facebook, saying she's reached out to ask her for a meeting.
    Mahlum later told CNN some of her clients have "already been adversely impacted" by the President's policies and said she welcomes "the opportunity to open up the communication channels" with Ivanka Trump.
    "There's no question," that celebrity sightings add value to the brand, Zukerman said, noting such high-profile clients as Sting (who "literally comes almost every day"), Ashley Olsen and Jennifer Lawrence. "There's been an excitement when the whole stadium of people see the celebrities or when after class and Sting takes his shirt off in the waiting area, that causes a lot of attention."

    Ivanka Trump -- Flywheel

    First daughter Ivanka Trump is a brand-loyal early adopter -- tweeting about Flywheel as early as July 2010, months after its first studio opened in New York.
    "At that point in time, truthfully, Ivanka wasn't totally a celebrity," Spitz said. Katie Couric, Kyra Sedgwick, and Jimmy Fallon were frequenting their studios around that time, and Trump was part of a group of New York socialites who worked out at their studio in the Hamptons that summer.
    She's tweeted about the workout at least six times, and has been spotted stopping by the Dupont Circle studio for a late afternoon ride multiple times. (Secret Service was present, but didn't clip in the cycling shoes.)
    The feeling is mutual: Flywheel congratulated Trump on her pregnancy with daughter, Arabella, now 5, in a January 2011 Facebook post.
    And Trump's competitive streak is well-suited to the Flywheel method. Each studio has a Torqboard, a display that ranks class riders based on their points.
    While most riders ride under pseudonyms or avoid the leaderboard altogether ("FckTrump," "BadHombre," and "BadDude" were spotted in recent classes at a DC studio), Trump confidently rides as simply "Ivanka."
    "In the Trump household, it was never just about meeting the expectations of others. It was about exceeding them. It was about surprising people. And being the best," she wrote in her 2009 book.
    This story has been updated.