Peloton is a media company now, with media company problems


WhatWhat does an “over the top, fanatically obsessed” Peloton user look like? To find out, I spoke to several longtime Peloton users. There’s Jessika Fernandez, who I’ve already mentioned, who’s read the biographies of several Peloton instructors. There’s Oz, who’s getting his 13-year-old daughter into Peloton. And there’s also Albert G., who raided TJ Maxx to get a set of Peloton dumbbells, yoga blocks, a water bottle, and apparel to go along with his bike. 

The Peloton diehards I spoke to don’t necessarily build their lives around Peloton, but the company does become part of their lifestyle. The bikes sit in living rooms, offices, and garages — sometimes accompanied by the treadmill or Peloton-branded weights. Most said they fit in at least a 30-minute workout about five to seven times per week. Many had streaks lasting hundreds of weeks. A few have started getting their kids into Peloton. Multiple fans said they buy Peloton apparel, follow the instructors on Instagram, and even read said instructors’ books. When I asked who their favorite instructor was, many had a hard time naming just one. Ben Alldis, in particular, was a popular pick for his music choices and chill demeanor. Adrian Williams, Jess King, and Ally Love were also frequently mentioned. (Oddly enough, only two mentioned Rigsby.) 

In other words, the people I spoke to were pretty ordinary — and the main thing they had in common was that Peloton’s platform just works for them. But which parts made the platform sticky was a bit harder to pin down.

“The sweet spot is really the instructors. They’re like gold. And the fact that they’re able to create so much original content,” says Fernandez.

“I’ve had bikes and treadmills before where when you get tired or bored, you just get off and do something else. [But] when you take a class, even if it’s just pre-recorded, you feel this accountability to the instructor if nobody else,” adds Drew McManus, who started using Peloton in 2019 and has since taken about 4,000 classes. “It’s weird. You wake up one day and you realize you’re following all of them on social media.” 

Aside from the instructors, the sense of community with Peloton users is very real. You see it the second you start pedaling via the Leaderboard, where you can see in real time all the other folks taking the same class. You can also “high-five” people in the same class. During classes, you’ll also see some hashtags — some based on user identity, geography, and interests (e.g., #PeloDoctors, #PelotonMoms, etc.) and others based on instructors (e.g., #JessKingCollective, #BooCrew). Those are meant to help you find other fans or friends to go do live rides with. The hashtags spill over to other social media platforms. There are several hundreds of Facebook groups, too. (My favorite name is the #435amTribe — the Mothercluckers.)

“The number of people I see pedaling for Jesus or, you know, #Pelo4Wine — there’s just this wide gamut of people who would otherwise probably want to kill each other if they met in a random bar. But here, you’re getting high fives from them,” says Chris Messina, an investor and avid Peloton user. 

Not everyone I spoke to made heavy use of these features. Some, like Fernandez, instead found more community through comments on blogs like Pelo Buddy, an enthusiast site that offers news, tips, and tricks. Some joined subgroups within other fan communities. Many had checked out the Peloton subreddit at one point or another. Amanda Hasaka, who started using Peloton during the pandemic, has kept a yearslong thread going in a private podcast group collecting all the strength classes that don’t go heavy on burpees or other high-impact moves. McManus found himself interacting with other Peloton users in a small Slack group and on Mastodon. Others yet roped their real-life friends, family, and colleagues into the community by being “the Peloton person.”

Live classes are another draw, especially holiday-themed rides. Instead of an annual Turkey Trot, where you run a 5K on Thanksgiving in person, Peloton does the Turkey Burn, an annual live ride. For the 2023 Turkey Burn, Peloton’s servers crashed under the deluge of users trying to join in, prompting an apology from McCarthy. Over 37,000 people were willing — nay, eager — to subject themselves to a workout on a holiday famed for gluttony. That’s something. 

Then there’s Homecoming, a yearly event that Peloton puts on to thank its members. It’s more like a convention, filled with special classes, product announcements, and panels with instructors. In that vein, Peloton also recently reopened its studios in New York and London so members could visit and be a part of its classes. As of this writing, every single class at Peloton Studios New York is fully booked for the next month.

Source link

Leave a comment