Spinning, the brain child of Johnny Goldberg (“Johnny G”) a South African endurance bicycle racer, hit the fitness scene in the late 1980’s, and cycling enthusiasts have been packing all kinds of cycling/spin classes ever since. However, as people continue to lead more stressful and over-scheduled lives, the demand for more convenient ways to work out, has become a central focus of the fitness industry. And that’s where companies like Peloton are changing the way we exercise, by bringing the studio to us.
Founded in 2012, Peloton allows users to exercise from home while having instant access to live and on-demand fitness group classes via the 21.5 inch WiFi enabled flat screen monitor that sits above the handlebars. This smart bike gives fitness enthusiasts the unique experience of being in a group class without leaving their home.
To get a better idea of how this company is inspiring people of all ages and levels to take charge of their health and make exercise a part of their day, Paste spoke with Brad Olson, SVP, Member Experience at Peloton, about the company and how it’s transforming the way we view fitness.
Why was Peloton created?
Brad Olson: John Foley, our founder and CEO, and his wife Jill have always loved boutique studio fitness classes, but, between their jobs and their two kids, they struggled to find time in their busy schedules to work out. So, John conceived the idea for Peloton: bring studio-style, group fitness classes home, so you can access the motivation and intensity of these classes anywhere, anytime—even while your kid is napping. Today, our mission has broadened to use technology and design to connect the world through fitness, empowering people to be the best version of themselves.
What was the original business plan to get it going?
Olson: When John started the company in 2012, he pitched the idea to just about every VC, but they all thought his plan was too capital intensive and turned him down. Ultimately, he and his cofounders ended up raising initial funding from roughly two dozen angel investors and a Kickstarter campaign. Fast forward a few years and we have built a robust business with over 100,000 bikes sold… and several blue-chip investors have joined the family along the way, helping to fuel our growth.
What are your thoughts about the growth of the at-home fitness equipment market?
Olson: More Americans work out at home than anywhere else; meanwhile, the market for boutique fitness has continued to explode. We certainly benefit from being at the intersection of these two trends.
To that end, we target people who love boutique fitness but can’t always squeeze it into their busy lives. With Peloton, I can roll out of bed at 7:30, take a 30-minute on-demand HIIT class, hop in the shower, and still be in the office by 8:30. The traditional studio model just doesn’t allow for this type of flexibility.
There have been countless fitness trends over the years, what makes Peloton different? Why do you think the bike and the concept will stick around?
Olson: What makes Peloton unique is the combination of a sleek bike with an amazingly smooth ride, a wide variety of classes from the best instructors in the world (all available on your schedule), and dynamic leaderboard software that makes it possible—and super fun—to compete with friends around the country.
I would argue that compelling, well-produced fitness content never goes out of style, and consumer technologies rarely evolve to be less convenient over time. If anything, the Peloton Bike is ahead of trend, and I think we’ll actually see more competition in our space in the months and years ahead.
What is the best part about working at Peloton?
Olson: It may sound cliché, but we really are disrupting traditional fitness and creating a new market for connected home fitness, and that’s incredibly fun. John has empowered all of us to think “massive” and to test our way into new features and products that deliver a surprisingly intuitive and personalized member experience. We even created a startup within a startup that has been tasked with disrupting our own business model.
What’s the future look like?
Olson: We announced our commercial-grade bike at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, and the very first bikes were delivered to hotels and residential fitness centers in April. In fact, we just announced our first major partnership with Westin Hotels and Resorts, which gives our members access to Peloton even when they’re on the road. Look for Peloton bikes to pop up in many more places in the months to come.