- Peloton launched its high-tech home fitness bike in 2012. The setup enables users to stream live classes, making it possible to get a boutique studio workout from anywhere. It has since rolled out a treadmill and an app with a range of workouts you can do without the high-tech equipment.
- In a relatively short period of time, the brand has grown to have a cult following of fans who say that the single most important reason Peloton has become so popular – and the reason they are motivated to work out most days – is the community that surrounds it.
- Peloton customers share life experiences and personal stories in Peloton’s giant Facebook group, which has nearly 200,000 members.
- Many of these customers say that this community spirit and culture of sharing comes from the instructors who instill a positive attitude in the workouts.
- Meet some of Peloton’s biggest fans below.
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Stephanie Andreozzi describes herself as an introvert. She doesn’t like making small talk with strangers and shies away from social gatherings, preferring to spend time on her own. Yet, last August she found herself driving to a party at the home of a woman whom she had never met, just to spend time with a group of complete strangers.
She remembers her boyfriend turning to her in the car and saying, “Are you out of your mind? I can’t believe you’re doing this.”
But, she was adamant they’d have a good time.
“These are fun people,” she says she told him.
The party, at a house in central Pennsylvania, was for people who shared a love for what she describes as “the bike that goes nowhere,” or the Peloton. And, thankfully, it lived up to expectations.
Andreozzi said that she’s noticed some big changes in her life since buying the $2,000 bike, and they aren’t only physical.
“It is creating different relationships that I didn’t have in my life before I had the bike,” Andreozzi said in a phone conversation with Business Insider.
She added in an email that since attending that party, she’s invited another rider to lunch, connected with people in her hometown and at the hospital where she works who also have Peloton bikes, and plans to travel with a coworker to the New York studio in November for her 100th ride.
“I’m definitely more outgoing than before Peloton,” she said.
Andreozzi isn’t alone here. Fellow users of Peloton’s high-tech fitness machines – the bike and treadmill, and now its app – say that since joining the “Peloton community,” they’ve struck up relationships they hadn’t expected to, attended parties that they otherwise wouldn’t have, and shared personal stories online with people they hardly know.
They interact via Peloton’s giant Facebook group, which has nearly 200,000 members and counting, and the countless subgroups – Pelo-Foodies, Peloton Sober Squad, Working Moms of Peloton, and Pelowinos, to name a few – that have splintered off from the central group. Peloton said it has 1.4 million members in total, a number that includes anyone who has a Peloton account
The Official Peloton’s Member Page on Facebook is designed to be a space for users to connect and “stay up to date on Peloton announcements and features,” it writes in the “about” section of the group. But the community spirit runs deeper than this, as members are increasingly using this space to share more intimate details about their life: the death of a family member, the birth of a child, and mental health issues are all recent examples.
Peloton bike owners and app users who spoke to Business Insider said that the open and supportive community that has sprung up around the Peloton brand is one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why so many of them are motivated to work out every day.
‘The Apple of fitness’
Peloton launched in 2012 with a $2,000 high-tech fitness bike that enabled users to stream live and on-demand classes from anywhere. The bike quickly became one of the buzziest workouts around, as it had solved one of the biggest downsides of working out at home: having to work out alone and not having the encouragement of a group to keep you motivated.
In 2018, Peloton added a new piece of equipment to its offering. The new $4,000 treadmill enabled customers to have the same streaming experience via a giant screen attached to the front. Then it rolled out an app that costs $19.49 a month and grants access to workouts that can be done on standard gym equipment.
The company has grown a fan base in a relatively short period of time and has been referred to as “the Apple of fitness.” It went public last month, raising more than $1 billion and reaching a valuation of around $8.2 billion. In its S-1 filing, the company revealed that it had more than doubled its sales to $719 million in the year ending June 30. However, operating losses spiraled in the same period, which may have spooked investors as its stock dropped 11% on its first day of trading.
The buzz around Peloton is something that even the company’s CEO, John Foley, has said he wasn’t expecting. But even more so, he wasn’t expecting to see this community emerge.
“When I started Peloton with my cofounders, I saw clear as day what it was going to look like and how it was going to work – the technology, the hardware, the software, the business model,” he told Business Insider in an interview at the CES tech industry trade show back in January 2018. “I saw everything except the community. The community has blown me away.”
‘It’s the community that makes you go back every day’
Amanda Segal said she has lost 65 pounds since she bought her Peloton bike in April 2018, and she is approaching her 300th ride.
50-year-old Segal, a mother of three, said she has spent most of her adult life struggling with her weight but was never fully able to fully commit to a workout routine before she bought the bike.
“I am obsessed with this whole organization,” she told Business Insider.
When she bought the bike, her husband was highly skeptical.
“It’s just another piece of gym equipment that we’ll never use, we’re going to use it as a clothes rack, and it’s going to be a waste of money,” he told her.
But the reason Peloton has become a big and possibly permanent fixture in her life, and not another fitness fad, is because of the community, she said.
“The last thing I wanted to do was get on the bike in the morning,” she told Business Insider in a phone conversation, explaining that she’d been up late watching a baseball game the night before so wasn’t feeling motivated for a workout. But the thrill of knowing that her Peloton friends would be online at the same time kept her going.
“There is this constant feeling that you’re being supported by others,” she said.
And it’s the same on Peloton’s social media channels.
When she shared a photo on the Facebook group documenting her dramatic six-month weight loss, she received nearly 6,000 likes.
When she had a Peloton-themed cake made for her 50th birthday, 5,000 people liked the photo. One person asked if they could copy her idea and have it made for their wedding day.
“That, to me, was inspiring. I was like, ‘I’ve got to keep doing this,'” she said.
53-year-old Scottsdale, Arizona, resident Sue Dunne has had a similar experience.
She describes the bike as the vehicle and the community as what drives the spirit behind the whole company.
“It’s what makes you go back every day,” she told Business Insider.
‘I quit seeing my therapist because I was getting whatever I needed through my bike’
This September, Dunne traveled to Portland, Oregon, to be with her mother, who had had a stroke and was in the hospital.
She called Peloton in Portland and explained that she’d spent the whole day in the hospital and asked where she could ride a Peloton bike in a local gym (Peloton’s commercial bikes can be ridden in certain hotels and fitness centers) so that she could keep up with a 60-day biking challenge that she was doing with a friend.
“They said: ‘just come back to our showroom.’ They were so amazing … they let me ride every day for a week,” she said. “It helped me get through a super stressful time.”
She believes that the company culture trickles down to the community; other riders experience it in the classes with their instructors, she said.
“It starts with them,” 41-year-old Libby Smith, a mother of two, told Business Insider, referring to the instructors.”There is a sense of gratitude I feel from all of them and I feel like they instill that in the community as well.”
Smith remembers the trainer in a recent class saying: “Feel good, look good, be good to each other,” and encouraging riders to virtually high-five a neighbor through what’s called the Peloton Leaderboard, which tracks riders’ performance.
“That’s why people are so hooked to their bike because they get that daily dose on every single workout. I feel like I’m in the room with them, and I feel good after I have pressed play,” she said.
Segal said she’s even quit seeing her therapist since she got the bike because it’s had such a positive impact on her mental health.
“I was getting whatever I need through my bike, through the instructors, through the support. I am not a religious person, but they give you that sense of being a believer,” she said.
Convenience is king
It’s been just over six weeks since Johanna Humphrey signed up for Peloton, and she’s worked out every day since.
Rather than shelling out $2,000 for the bike or $4,000 for the treadmill, she’s found a cheaper way to get in on the action by buying a non-Peloton bike and working out using the brand’s app, which costs under $20 a month.
She views the bike as an unnecessary expense.
“It’s 100% about the classes,” she said in a phone conversation with Business Insider.
The main downside is that because the bike isn’t paired to the class, she’s unable to log her resistance or compare her performance against other riders’. But, she feels that that’s balanced against the money she saves.
Humphrey isn’t turned on by the community side of Peloton quite like her co-riders. For her, it’s all about the standard of the instructors and the convenience of having access to studio-level classes from your living room.
“I like it because I am slightly overweight and I never liked going to spin classes because I always felt like I was surrounded by a bunch of super skinny, in-shape people.
“There’s something nice to the online privacy aspect of it; I am just doing it in my basement so it doesn’t matter if I am sweating to death and I look like hell, I don’t have to perform for anybody,” she said.
The convenience of the workout is what industry experts say puts boutique fitness concepts in such a vulnerable position, especially when combined with the community element.
“It’s a hassle to get into classes, it’s expensive, you have to find parking, you have to drive to the studio, you don’t know if you were going to get a bike,” Segal said of indoor cycling studio SoulCycle, a favorite workout of her adult daughter. “That is exactly why this concept is so ingenious because you can avoid all of those things.”
Still, when she does want to get her boutique studio fix, she makes the four-hour trip to New York from Maryland to ride with Peloton instructors in the studio.
She’s making plans to do just that in November as she celebrates her major 300-ride milestone.
If you’re a Peloton user with a story to share please contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.