How Has Peloton Amassed a Cult-Like Following?

Photo Courtesy: Peloton

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, gyms have faced a real deluge of challenges. According to Vox, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) has estimated that, without financial relief, 25% of gyms in the United States were on track to close down by the end of 2020. Once-popular chains, from 24 Hour Fitness to Town Sports, declared bankruptcy. In some areas, gyms have moved outdoors — making equipment accessible to members in parking lots and on sidewalks — while others have opened briefly, only to close again, with strict guidelines and capacities in place.

The most popular pivot, however, has been to at-home, virtual classes and gym memberships. "When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we transitioned all of our clients to an online format," Nat Huerta, owner of the Oakland-based Queer Gym, told Women’s Health Magazine. "And now that our community is more accessible, we have nearly doubled in size. Going digital allows us to expand our mission beyond the four-mile radius of the gym." While embracing this mindset has been crucial for other gyms and community spaces like the YMCA, it also helps illustrate why "smart" exercise equipment and fitness technology are becoming increasingly popular.

One of the most successful examples of this smart equipment trend comes in the form of Peloton and its innovative exercise bike, which allows users to access virtual classes, trainers and a fitness community. Over a year, Peloton’s pricey exercise bikes went from meme fodder to an exercise must-have. So, how did the brand amass such a following? And would it have happened without the workout-at-home fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic?