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Peloton Is Thriving, Living Her Best Pandemic Life

Illustration for article titled Peloton Is Thriving, Living Her Best Pandemic Life
Image: Ezra Shaw (Getty Images)

Peloton, a company that caters to affluent exercise fanatics and less-affluent exercise fanatics willing to assume debt, is, at best, a frivolous business. But perhaps the time has come to prostrate ourselves before the might and unstoppable force that is a company that seems to have proven itself indestructible. Peloton survived the fallout from the horrible commercial of 2019, stopped its competitor Flywheel from moving into its turf with a home bike, and now is about to emerge from a global pandemic richer than ever.

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As CNBC reports, in a fiscal report released Thursday, Peloton’s CEO stated, “fourth-quarter sales surged 172%” with the company’s signature bike and treadmill becoming huge sellers as a result of the global pandemic.

While the original Peloton bike costs $1895, the treadmill starts at a little over $4000costs which do not include a monthly subscription to Peloton’s classes at $39 a month—which means you’re essentially paying for this bike for eternity. On Wednesday, Peloton dropped the latest jewel in its crown, the Bike+, which I have been staring at every morning since the announcement was made. The bike, which looks just like the original bike, boasts a bigger screen that swivels out, a subwoofer, Apple Watch connectivity built into this big fucking screen, and instructor controlled resistance. It’s the most elite pedal to nowhere that could be imagined and the timing couldn’t be better as SoulCycle is smack in the middle of promoting their at-home bike and app, Variis.

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It is blood boiling that a company worth millions before the pandemic was able to multiply its wealth the worse the pandemic got? Absoutely. Yet, I can’t get that mad, since I find myself seduced by Peloton’s beautiful, high-gloss ads, which force me to entertain the perfectly reasonable idea of building a costly gym inside my home. Peloton even has a “value calculator” on its website to break down, in numbers how much money I could save by spending $2,495 on a bike. Even though I’ve never been on one, I lust after the Bike+ in the same way Leonardo DiCaprio lusts after young supermodels. I talk about this bike to my editor, half -convincing myself to buy it and half-reminding myself that it’s not affordable and attempting to finance this thing would push my partner over the edge and into a divorce.

Peloton, in this moment, is like the Cobra Kai dojo from the first Karate Kid movie. Dressed in all black to attract the babes with a motto of strike first, strike hard, no mercy and an ethos that can either break or improve your legs depending on how hard you go.

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DISCUSSION

Sigh. Is it too much to get someone who actually likes exercise (we exist!) to write about exercise and products that support it? There are valid criticisms to make about big fitness companies - but there are also pros to these products/services. I have never considered buying a Peloton until realizing 3 months after my CycleBar studio reopened that it will be a long time before that environment is safe enough for me.  Of course they are using this to their advantage - hey, that’s how capitalism works!  I will likely end up buying one soon since I live in Ohio and we are rapidly approaching our too cold for outdoor activity season.  As for the comparisons with an average exercise bike and a Peloton - you get what you pay for.  I had a Fitbit for years until I finally made the jump to an Apple watch.  And I paid more for the technology I don’t need but it was a decision I made because it was worth it to me.  Apply that concept to exercise and you get Peloton.