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Financial backing spurs Space Cycle towards lifestyle influence

We don’t simply want to be a fitness brand. We want to operate in the fitness space but have the impact of a lifestyle brand, and support people in taking charge of all aspects of their health
– Matthew Allison, founder and CEO of Space Cycle

Space Cycle, the boutique cycle brand in China which received backing of US$15m (£11.5m) from Chinese internet giant Alibaba earlier this year, says it wants to extend its influence beyond fitness and into lifestyle.

The venture is headed up by Matthew Allison, the former president of EMI Music in Asia, and currently has six clubs in Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei, offering cycle, yoga, barre and “moves” –its dance class. It plans to open another 50 clubs in the territory over the next five years.

"We don’t simply want to be a fitness brand," said Allison. "We want to operate in the fitness space but have the impact of a lifestyle brand, and support people in taking charge of all aspects of their health."

One way it will do this is through using inspirational teaching and music to "elevate group fitness to a form of live entertainment". |It’s like going to a concert - we’re providing something that doesn’t really exist anywhere in the world," said Allison.

It has also partnered with wellness resort developer GOCO Hospitality, and hopes to put Space Cycle studios within the smaller wellness centres that GOCO is intending to build, separate to its larger resorts.

The funding from Alibaba was made via its Alibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund II, which is managed by WI Harper Group. According to reports in Chinese media, Edward Liu, a partner at WI Harper, joined Space Cycle’s Board of Directors through the deal. Liu described Space Cycle as "innovators and disruptors", adding: "Converging fitness, music and entertainment has been a very successful model in the US market. The same trend is emerging in the Chinese market and Space Cycle is at the forefront."

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Space Cycle, the boutique cycle brand in China which received backing of $15m from Chinese internet giant Alibaba earlier this year, says it wants to extend its influence beyond fitness and into lifestyle.
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