These are “before and afters” from my amazing tribe members. They quite literally rode their butts off.
Most of you have probably seen the tremendously compelling advertising for the fitness company Peloton. Perfectly beautiful, perfectly toned people riding their problems away on sleek stationary bikes in perfectly curated spaces.
Good gravy. Those ads made me want one just about as much as I wanted some Reebok Pumps back in the day.
If you have read any of my previous posts, or happen to know me as a three dimensional human, you know none of this is true with respect to my life. I’m kind of old; I am far from toned; and my home is where Marie Kondo would go to oh-so politely, yet efficiently, make an example of someone.
But, those ads. I could be that. If only I had that bike. My life would be different. Better.
After aggressively campaigning my husband and saving every bit of pocket money I could muster from our monthly budget, I started researching purchase options. If you have not obsessed about buying one, you may not know these beautiful creatures are expensive. A new bike will run you almost $3,000 (including a one year monthly subscription). The monthly fee is $39, so the cost is just under $500 each subsequent year.* This price point wasn’t an option for us at the time, as we were working very hard to live within our actual means, so I started the hunt on buy/ sell/ trade pages. One of these gorgeous beasts happened to pop up online in my area right after we got our tax return, and I eagerly snatched it up as quickly as I could type.
It was happening. I could already feel the Instagram filter wrap its benevolent arms around my life and blur the wrinkles and dog hair out of the image I present to the world.
That perfect image lasted as long as it took to move the bike into my cozy rental home. I had to shove my gorgeous new best friend into the tiny space not occupied by the oversized furniture in my guest bedroom. It wasn’t thoughtfully placed overlooking a south facing window of a 2,956,098 story apartment building fashioned out of crystal and diamonds overlooking Greater London like in the commercials.
I wrestled her into a tiny, hot bedroom with stinky carpet in Alabama. I just remember thinking, you are too pretty for this place Bici (that’s what I call her.)
Despite being forced to be one of the normals, I got on and rode. I didn’t quite radiate an essence of lavender and glitter like the Scandinavian models featured in the commercials, but man, did I sweat. I discovered instructors I loved (and kind of didn’t love.) I intermittently showed up, and I was pretty happy with my purchase. Then, we moved. Again.
I packed up one house and unpacked another. I left friends. I didn’t get on the bike again for months due to travel and unpacking and life. I can generally gauge my mental health status by how much I am willing to work out. If you’re reading between the lines, it wasn’t good. Much like a herding dog, I need exercise and/or a job, or I get really unpleasant. I was short tempered and distracted, and I wasn’t the wife to my husband and the mom to my girls I knew they deserved.
Gradually, I got back into riding. I would choose a class from the extensive On-Demand library and give just enough to feel like I wasn’t wasting my time. This beautiful, oft lauded piece of equipment was collecting dust just like those poor clothing racks disguised as treadmills in many people’s basements do. It didn’t give me the experience I expected.
I continued to dog it for a few months, riding here and there. By the Grace of Dumbledore, I found a Peloton subgroup on Facebook focused on accountability and goal setting. The founder of the page (an angel named Samantha masquerading as a corporate attorney), reached out to me and suggested I join the Sunrise Crew messenger group because they generally rode at the crack of dawn, just like me. I committed to a live ride the next morning, and I haven’t looked back.
When you are military, you lose your tribe. Over and over.
It’s an amazing, exciting life, but some days it’s really really hard. This little tribe of 250 people I was lucky enough to find has been a constant beacon of support and friendship to me, both on and off the bike. I’ve ridden almost 900 miles in the past three months after not clipping in for so long.
I desperately needed to be ensconced by people who had their hands on my back, people who made my goals their goals. I needed more than the bike. I needed the family.
The fitness platform that Peloton offers is nearly perfect for the perpetual wanderer who is under perpetual stress (military folk). In addition to the bike and the cycling content, Peloton now offers strength, bootcamp, yoga, and outdoor fitness classes. They have recently released the ultra-sexy Tread, a commercial grade treadmill which operates under the same metric-based platform as the bike. You don’t have to schlep your kids anywhere, yet you can still ride or run with folks in your community. Winning.
If you’re looking for the dream projected by Peloton’s advertising, don’t waste your money. It won’t transport you to that perfect mid-modern home in the woods with kids who leave you alone while you ride or run or boot camp. It also won’t magically or immediately make you fit into smaller pants.
However, if you’re searching for something that can make you a better partner and a better parent, start saving your money. The value of Peloton starts with an investment in yourself. You have to show up and do the work. I am far from perfect versions of these roles, but on the days I ride or run hard, I am less stressed, more patient and more content. As it would turn out, seeing how much less heinous I am after working out has made my girls want to ride, run and participate in boot camps and yoga. They have their own bike and their own yoga mats. They are motivated to eat better foods to be strong and healthy so they can “slay.” That’s something you can’t buy with all the money in Oprah’s underground lair.
The perfection of Peloton doesn’t lie in the bike’s cutting edge technology. It doesn’t lie in the gorgeous lifestyle the ads portray. It doesn’t lie in the beauty of the instructors although, good gravy, they are all beautiful. The reality of this bike is that it truly helps you realize, as Peloton aptly advertises, Better is in Us.
*Peloton also offers a digital subscription for just under $20/ month if you aren’t ready to commit to the cost of a car for your teenager. You have access to all of the content, just not the equipment.
If you have any questions, please shoot me an email at [email protected] I’ll enthusiastically talk Peloton all day. *Full disclosure, I have drank all the Kool-Aid and recently welcomed a new baby into our family. His name is Fred T. Tread and I just couldn’t love him any more.