Homespun

 
CLOCKWISE TOP LEFT: 1.PELOTON STUDIO IN CHELSEA. “WE WANTED IT TO FEEL LIKE HOME”; 2.MARION ROAMAN; 3.BIKE TABLET WITH TOUCH SCREEN TO SELECT CLASSES; 4.JACK’S STIR BREW COFFEE BAR AT PELOTON; 5.THE PRODUCTION ROOM

 
A few weeks ago I took a spinning class at a new indoor cycling studio, Peloton, in Manhattan’s Chelsea district. The room was filled with riders and the instructor was cheering us all on. “Great job, Jackie!”, Marion Roaman, yelled out. But Jackie wasn’t in the room. She was live streaming the class, as were a few other riders at home. Marion could see Jackie and her output as she was riding via a monitor on her instructors bike.

Peloton is a new concept in spinning and fitness, not so much for the workout itself, but the way it is delivered. The studio itself is sort of like a sound stage, and a high tech one at that. All classes are filmed and “produced” with multiple cameras and edited in a production facility downstairs. Classes can be taken streaming live or on-demand on specially designed Peloton spinning bikes. As Marion recently told me, we are a “tech company with a focus on fitness.”

What Peloton is really selling are their bikes, which feature a large integrated tablet-like monitor on which to watch and take class. They currently have more retail facilities than studios. Their focus is on expanding participation at home and offering boutique style spin classes, a la Soul Cycle or Flywheel, to people who don’t have the access, time or inclination to go to a studio or gym. A Peloton bike costs $1,995, plus $39 per month to access on-demand and live classes. Peloton bikes are currently on backorder so it appears like they have found a new niche in the fitness industry.

Peloton Co-Founder, General Manager and Director of Global Content, Marion Roaman, is a well known and highly regarded spinning instructor. She was recruited by John Foley, the Founder and CEO of Peloton, and most recently, President of the E-Commerce Division at Barnes & Noble. Prior to Peloton, Marion founded one of the first boutique cycling studios, The Zone, in East Hampton. She happens to be an old friend as well, and I recently spoke with her about Peloton, its evolution and the design of the bikes.

“John Foley has a deep backround in media and e-commerce,” she told me. “When traveling he would wonder why he couldn’t take a great spin class on the road or access one online. It started with the idea of a tablet. Then he started looking at what bikes were on the market and realized he needed to build one of his own. All of a sudden it became this huge idea. He put together a team to create a bike and an intregrated tablet, which led to a need for content. The idea of building a studio to create these classes just evolved.” A $10.5 million fund-raising round made the concept a reality.

Marion was introduced to John by a mutual friend. “I had been in the studio business for so long and didn’t want to get into another. I loved the idea of building one place and a community, and being able to reach thousands of people with no geographical restrictions.”

And indeed there are riders from all over the country streaming classes, but my big question, as someone who loves the group experience of a cycling class, is how do you create that energy at home? “I am a group person too,” Marion told me, “and the exciting challenge is how do we make people at home feel like they’re here. Otherwise it becomes another bike with a coat hanging on it. Riders interact not just with the instructors but with each other via Facebook. There is a camera on the bike and people are really using it. We are trying to make it as interactive as possible and there is more to come. Our goal is to be the Netflix of fitness.”

Not that I would personally choose a remote class over a studio class, but the idea that I could be riding at home with a friend, taking class together via Facebook sounds kind of fun. I must say as Marion was cheering “Jackie” on remotely, I felt “Jackie” was there with us. I said to Marion, “I wish we could see Jackie”. She nodded and smiled, “that’s coming.”

Photos 1,2,4 by Eric Hwang
 
 

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