If the newest, exploding-in-size demographic in America, the “Hyper-Triggered,” put half as much energy into exercising as they do into lashing out yet again after being easily offended yet again, they’d be able to pound a 20-penny nail into an oak tree with their abdominal six-pack and they’d have a body-fat index in negative figures.
Give them all Peloton stationary bikes and let them get to work, I say.
Before we venture any further, let’s catch everyone up:
Peloton is a company that makes an expensive, yet popular and, one could surmise, effective stationary bike. The company sells other fitness equipment as well, but the digitally interactive Peloton bike – the word “peloton” is defined as the main field or group of riders in a bicycle race, like the Tour de France – is its flagship product.
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the company released a new TV commercial that opens on Christmas in the home of what looks to be an affluent, attractive husband and wife and their family. He surprises her with the gift of a Peloton bike – viewers don’t know if she put it on her Christmas list or not – and she freaks with excitement. As the wife, already tall and lanky and clearly fit, embarks on her Peloton fitness journey, she tracks her progress, both physically as well as mentally and emotionally, via a video diary. For much of the rest of the commercial, we see her video logs as she, with varying degrees of grit and determination, triumph and exhaustion, climbs on that bike and rides and rides, providing narration along the way. Her confidence and satisfaction seem to mushroom as the months pass, and the commercial ends a year later, when she happily plays her video diary for her happy husband.
It’s all awful…a sexism-inspired horror show, a sea of triggered women, and some men, concluded. Not only did the Peloton commercial spur enough of a social media response to be “trending” on a variety of digital platforms, the uproar made national news headlines for days. Parody commercials, some admittedly quite witty and clever, also sprouted up on social media, with the alternate theme having the wife, her confidence shaken to its core over the fact that her husband felt the need for whatever reason to buy her exercise equipment for Christmas, eventually dumping his sorry butt.
During all this, the triggered masses estimated that the beautiful, tall and skinny wife in the commercial weighed around 116 pounds when given the Peloton bike by her husband. What fitness goal did her husband have in mind? they wondered. Did he want her to drop 10 pounds? Maybe more?
But here’s the thing. The Peloton marketing campaign, and also the reason that so many people ride Peloton bikes or “spin” bikes, or, really, regularly exercise in general, is not entirely about how much a person weighs, or wants to weigh. Sure, the vast majority of us could certainly drop a few pounds, and maybe quite a bit more than a few pounds. But in airing that commercial, the Peloton braintrust never implied that the wife was overweight or out of shape. Would the commercial’s harshest critics have reacted in a more positive fashion if the wife who received the Peloton bike from her husband for Christmas was obviously obese? No way. They’d have stormed Peloton’s corporate headquarters with pitchforks and flaming torches in hand.
Funny thing…at least in the wake of all this it seems kind of funny: A couple weeks before the Peloton commercial aired, I semi-seriously asked my wife if she wanted a Peloton bike. Not as a Christmas gift; I just wanted to know if she wanted one in general.
Currently, she pays a monthly fee for the Peloton app. When she goes to the health club she’ll hop on their most-advanced stationary bike – not an actual Peloton bike – and over the next 30 to 45 minutes or an hour works herself into a sweaty frenzy as she follows along on her screen to a Peloton class being led, in real time, by a varying roster of super-enthusiastic, ultra-motivational and even humorously vulgar instructors. (The app also offers many other real-time or pre-recorded, instructor-inspired exercise activities.) While my wife admits that the experience, in her words, “kicks my ass,” she loves it. When she’s finished, she’s beat, but she feels fantastic, like she could conquer the world.
That’s what it’s mostly and possibly all about for people like my wife…people who, if they go two or three days without the endorphin chemical release into their bloodstream that comes with meaningful exercise, they don’t feel their best, physically or emotionally. Getting positive feedback when you step onto the scale is great, obviously, but for my wife and those like her – including the wife in the commercial – it’s about feeling good, healthy and energetic, and feeling accomplished.
If you don’t get that, that’s fine. But, please, take a deep, cleansing breath of crisp, fresh air and allow your mind to ponder reality for a moment. Do 10 jumping jacks, even. The Peloton commercial is hurting absolutely no one, especially you.