Peloton makes a connected exercise bike & treadmill that lets you take classes from home via a screen attached to the equipment. They IPO’ed last month for $29 a share and raised $994M. Recent headlines from analysts have been more optimistic about Peloton’s IPO than Uber’s. Peloton is coming to Germany soon making it the first not English speaking country they’re expanding to.
I’ve heard a lot about Peloton, mostly from the hype in tech news and commercials on TV. I’ve often heard it referred to as the cult of Peloton and as someone who recently fell in love with spin class, my curiosity is peaked. From social media, if you’re a Peloton customer, you don’t like it, you LOVE IT! It’s not a piece of exercise equipment, it’s a lifestyle.
I understand that you might have a negative impression of cults, but when you’re not a part of it, the people are annoying. If you’re not into fitness, hearing people talk about it sucks. As a roll towards 40 I’ve accepted that my body needs me to pay attention to it. Wouldn’t it be great if I was one of those people that just LOVED fitness?
On a recent trip to New York for the launch of the Microsoft Surface I noticed my hotel was close to the Peloton studio. Fortunately, my hotel also had a Peloton bike in the gym, so I was able to a virtual class as well as one in person.
Here are my thoughts on Peloton, starting with the in person class followed by the virtual class.
Peloton NYC Studio Experience
If you’ve ever been to a high end spin studio you’ll be familiar with the set up at Peloton. For those who haven’t done a modern spin class, you get shoes, the locker rooms have many products and there is someone there to help you set up your bike. It screams, “I feel justified in dropping $35 a class!”.
Like most workout studios the room is very cold when you walk in, but today’s spin classes are done in the dark with very loud music. At Peloton, the bikes are set up around a stage on three sides and as we’re waiting to get started, Jenn the instructor, was already interacting with everyone online. I didn’t realize that the class was being live streamed to hundreds, maybe thousands of people.
“RoadCruiser, it’s your 400th ride, Congratulations and thanks for being apart of the Peloton nation”
“RidnMama happy 100th ride, Pelotooooon!”
Hearing the word Peloton happened consistently throughout the ride. I felt a bit like I was being indoctrinated, cults repeat ideologies and phrases. Jenn would randomly say/scream Peloton, it when I started counting I heard it 11 more itimes.
What also caught me off guard was the fact that Jenn essentially ignored the class and was in constant eye contact with the cameras around the room. As the camera slowly went from the left side of the room to the right her gaze followed the camera. I have to admit it felt like I was watching something I wasn’t supposed to.
Having done no research on Peloton before going, I left the class confused so I asked the sales girl at the front a ton of questions. Apparently there are only two Peloton studios in the whole world one in New York and the other in London. I suddenly felt very lucky to have taken a studio class.
This is when I realized that I was doing things completely wrong, most people will never see the inside of a Peloton studio.
Peloton’s main focus are the virtual classes.
Peloton only have studios is to livestream the instructor to your bike. Looking at time zones the London studio starts putting classes online in the morning and the New York studio will have classes until late at night covering all of Europe and the US.
Real world classes are a byproduct of content creation for their virtual community.
Taking a Peloton Virtual Class
The Kimpton hotel has two Peloton bikes, so the next day I went to the gym to take my first virtual class. When I logged on there were no live classes about to start, so I took one of the many pre recorded classes. I could choose by class type, instructor, genre of music, style of ride. I choose a 90s Hip Hop class.
When the class started the instructor was looking at me from the 21.5” HD display right in the eye. Suddenly the thing I found the creepiest from the live class was the thing I loved most of the virtual class.
In the live class maybe it was the new surroundings and that I was distracted by the instructor paying attention to the cameras, maybe it was the type of class, but my virtual workout was better. The connection I felt with the instructor was far stronger than I’ve ever felt at a traditional spin class like Soul Cycle or Ride.BLN.
I got a way better work out in the virtual class than I did taking the real world class.
The class with Jess was virtual and the class with Jenn was in studio, you can see I got a better workout in the virtual class than I did in person.
Admittedly, I have only taken a single class, but I am already convinced that they’ve brought a high end spin classes to my home.
Peloton vs High end Spin Studio
In Berlin, I take spin classes at Ride.bln, they have beautiful locker rooms, attentive staff. The environment is pretty much identical to Peloton’s NYC studio, smaller, but similar vibe. That’s pretty much where it ends for me. The class experiences couldn’t be further apart.
Malin at Ride.bln has to be one of my favorite instructors, a ball of energy that makes you want to give it everything you’ve got. Her style of dancing around the studio, correcting people’s postures and reading the room so that we’re getting the best workout we can is something I’m unsure if she would be able to convey through a virtual class. When you look up and you see her eyes closed pushing through a hard segment, that it’s hard for her honors my struggle. This isn’t something she would be able to do as a Peloton instructor.
Her style would have to completely change and knowing her classes I fear they would become soulless.
I am genuinely curious what her take would be if she tried to adapt her style to Peloton, could she bring the same engagement to a class while staring into a camera. The performance of the Peloton instructors paired with the wobblyness of my legs made me rethink my previous statement that they’ve truly replicated a high end fitness studio at home.
Sure you could replicate the dark room with moody music when you ride your Peloton at home, but I’m not sure it would be the same. But the reality is that motivation for fitness comes from within, all of these classes are tools to achieve our goals. Then you factor in the time to go to the studio, Peloton has removed several barriers and created several strong connections to their virtual community to help you on your way.
Beyond the Bike
Peloton doesn’t only offer spin classes, they also have a treadmill where you can run with the tread team which offers a mixture of cardio and strength classes. You can also bring on outdoor runs either treadmill, trail or street which have playlists, GPS support with pace & elevation.
The Peloton App offers a full range of classes which you can also join via livestream. Not only do they offer cycling and running to go along with their connected machines, but bootcamp, yoga, outdoor, stretching and strength. If you don’t have the bike or tread you can still take part in the Peloton lifestyle by becoming a digital member. Peloton says you’ll be able to enjoy boutique fitness without any of the equipment Digital membership will cost you $19.49 a month.
The Business of Peloton
Peloton Interactive Inc. is a company that sells connected exercise machines and fitness classes.
When they filed for their IPO that’s not how they described themselves. Instead, it’s a technology company, a media company, a software company, a product-design company, a retail company, an apparel company and “a social connection company that enables our community to support one another.”
Chief Executive John Foley had yet another explanation in a letter to prospective investors:
“Peloton sells happiness.”
In the real world, though, Peloton sells exercise bikes and treadmills and streams fitness classes to those devices through a touch screen included with the machines. And it commands a premium price of thousands of dollars for the machines and $40 a month for a subscription to its classes, over 40% more than it costs to produce both the hardware and content.
Peloton sells two types of fitness machines, a $2,200 exercise bike and $4,295 treadmill, and monthly subscription plans. It disclosed overall sales of 577,000 fitness machines, almost all of them in the U.S., and claims 1.4 million members.
This is a lot of people for what essentially equates to a spin class at home and if you’ve ever met anyone who owns a Peloton you’ll know they’re all in on the product!
Peloton Comes to Germany
The bike in Germany will cost €2,290 and cost €39 a month to access the virtual classes and community.
“Germany is Europe’s largest fitness market, where over 10 million people belong to a gym, so it was a natural next step for Peloton, as we continue to grow our brand internationally,” said Kevin Cornils, Managing Director, International for Peloton.
Germany won’t be getting its own studio just yet, they’re going to run the German classes out of London and offer subtitles in English classes.
To be notified when you can buy happiness, sign up for launch information here: onepeloton.de/launch I’m waiting patiently to see if our Geeks can get fit with Peloton. Nothing would please me more than to think of Casi on a bike screaming Peloton at the top of his lungs!