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Why the Hell Does Peloton Get People to Exercise?

Apparently, my dad has become a Peloton aficionado in the last month since my parents got one. Ashley often takes breaks between work and studying to ride one in our apartment gym. Everyone seems to think it’s fun. They even talk about the trainer’s personalities like they know them.


Months ago, I’m on the phone with one of my clients discussing metrics for consumer satisfaction for a site I made for my dissertation. He’s a venture capitalist who has investments in fitness technology, so I wanted to pick his brain. The goal of my research is to get novices to strength train.


“So, the goal is to get people who don’t do resistance training to do resistance training?” he asks. A bit tangentially to the research he goes on “that’s a good question, so like why the hell does Peloton work?”


Ironically, enough Peloton had made a pitch to his company. They declined.


“I am assuming because it’s fun right?” I say.


“You know, when they pitched it to us, I was like, so people will sit in the basement and go on a bike and take classes, and I was like, this will never work. And you know, if you asked me again now, I would still pass on it, but it worked and why did it work?”


This client is a data guy. He has invested in wearable tech company that measures and tracks recovery. Initially I thought they would be a completely different target audience.


“I would imagine Peloton inspires new people because it is fun, and your tech gets the more hardcore athlete?” I asked


“You know, it’s almost a perfect overlap in customers” he told me.


I found that fascinating. “What do you think they buy first?” I asked?


“Oh, most likely the Peloton.”


This was interesting to me. Something that was fun might get people hooked to exercise. Once they find something, they like then they start investing in learning more about their health and fitness.


Motivation leads to a small step, a small step leads to multiple small steps if the experience is enjoyable, fun, or satisfying. It needs to elicit positive emotion as a reward. The first step needs to be something that makes you feel good.


But it cannot just be the reward that is good. It needs to be that the reward is better than any experienced discomfort. Exercise has an affective component, the feeling part. And it doesn’t always feel great when you start. If exercise felt so good and if eating vegetables gave the same reward response as candy, everyone would be healthy.


So, something needs to feel good, despite something else feeling bad or at least not so good.


How will you create that internal reward? How will you celebrate when you do something you know is going to pay dividends in the long run? Here are four things that I can think of


  1. Make it social
  2. Make sure it is fun
  3. Create contingent rewards (I can get a pedicure if I run three times this week)
  4. Create a celebration routine (i.e. celebrate yourself- you’re awesome)


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