Peloton Is Betting You’ll Never Go Back to the Gym

At one point John Mills and his wife, Erica, were members at three different gyms, where John could lift weights and Erica could take indoor cycling classes. Still, something about the ads he kept seeing for Peloton intrigued John, a 50-year-old software architect in Bloomfield, Connecticut.In October 2016, he took the plunge and bought Erica a Peloton bike. They converted a kids’ playroom–their children are now grown—into a makeshift home gym. Mills quickly figured out how to cast Peloton classes from the bike’s tablet to the playroom’s giant projector screen, using a native Android streaming option. When Peloton started selling an expensive treadmill in 2018, the Mills bought one of those too. And in late 2019, they splurged on a second bike.
So when Covid-19 forced millions of people into shutdown in early March, the Mills were well ahead of the home gym trend. They canceled their gym memberships. The only logical thing to do was to keep building, Mills figured. He started looking into new flooring for the playroom, purchased weights, and preordered a $4,295 Yves Behar-designed fitness mirror and resistance system called Forme Life. It’s these kinds of all-in-one, internet-connected fitness products that people chat about in Mills’ Facebook group, Run, Lift & Live, which has more than 4,000 members.“Back in March or April, folks would either say, ‘I’m never ever going back to a gym,’ or they’d say ‘I get that I have to work out at home for now, but I like the social aspect of the gym and want to go back,’” Mills tells me. “Now in the group, it’s ‘What’s the Tempo device like? How about Tonal? When will Carbon ship?’ No one is talking about the gym anymore.”
A New SpinThat sentiment is exactly what Peloton is hoping to capitalize on with its latest offerings. The seven-year-old fitness tech company, which has attracted more than a million paying subscribers with its blend of live-streamed and on-demand classes, was already a pandemic success story. Today it’s officially revealing its long-rumored new products: a new indoor cycling bike; a less expensive version of its old bike; a cheaper treadmill; a new series of bootcamp classes; and some software updates, including integration with Apple’s GymKit. (Much of this was previously reported by Bloomberg late last week.)“You want to be able to excite people to work out, and we saw that formula come to life with the first Peloton Bike and Tread,” says Tom Cortese, Peloton’s chief operating officer and a cofounder of the New York City-based company. “So the idea that we could make this more accessible to more folks and more homes in more markets, just felt like, Yes. We’ve got a runner here. Let’s do that next step and make it more compact and at a lower price point.”
The new Peloton indoor cycling bike, called Bike+, has a 23.8-inch swivel touchscreen, compared to the 22-inch touchscreen that stays fixed in position on the first bike. That means riders will be able to rotate the screen and transition more easily to other kinds of workout classes, like the “Bike Bootcamp” classes Peloton will soon roll out. The new bike also has a four-speaker sound system—an improvement over the first bike, which blares sound outward from the back of the tablet rather than towards the rider. And riders can opt to have their resistance auto-adjusted throughout a workout, rather than manually turning the resistance knob.
The new Bike+ ships this month and costs $2,495, while the “old” Bike is getting a price drop, from $2,245 to $1,895. (To appease customers who may have just spent $2,245 on the first bike, Peloton will issue a credit for the difference if their purchase was made within the last 30 days.)