I was thinking about Peloton's 2019 holiday ad the other day.
Remember that spot? The one that many of us (myself included) mocked mercilessly because we said a husband giving his wife a piece of exercise equipment as a Christmas gift was not only stupid (and perhaps even sexist), but also borderline suicidal?
Well, as a husband whose wife has been using the Peloton app zealously with a non-Peloton spin bike for the last two months, I can now confidently say I was wrong about that ad.
What I know today for certain is that if I bought my wife a Peloton for Christmas (or as a gift for her birthday next month), it would not be a stupid thing for me to do and I would not be in the proverbial doghouse.
On the contrary, my wife would be so overcome with joy that I'd most certainly earn myself enough "good husband points" to make up for a fairly significant transgression.
Me: "Where was I for the past three weeks, you ask? Funny story... on a whim, I decided to rent a motorcycle and ride across the country! I'm sorry I forgot to call. How were things with you and our four children while I was gone?"
Wife: "Don't worry about it, things were great... I hope you had fun! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go hang out with Robin Arzón and my Peloton!"
Okay, an unannounced three-week solo road-trip might test the limit. But not by much.
I now understand the reason the Peloton holiday ad seemed so ludicrous to me at the time was that I hadn't yet witnessed the Cult of Peloton in action for myself.
Back then, I didn't know a single person who owned one and could help me understand why watching an instructor workout while you tried to keep pace was such an inspiring experience.
But I think I understand it now.
My wife is excited to participate in the Peloton community every chance she gets. She uses her Peloton time as a much-needed break in her day; she will task our two older children with watching our two younger ones so she can get a class or two in before dinner, and when she's done, she's absolutely invigorated. The pandemic has certainly limited our collective exercise options, but when the world eventually opens up again, I'm not sure my wife will choose to do anything differently than what she's doing right now, multiple times a week.
As it turns out, the flaw in the ad wasn't in the premise: a husband giving his wife an exercise machine for Christmas. It was in the wife's understated reaction at seeing her gift four seconds into the spot: the reaction of the actress didn't properly reflect the excitement that actual Peloton users feel when they experience Peloton for the first time.
And the flaw in our collective assessment of the ad wasn't that we saw a husband giving his wife an exercise machine for Christmas: it was that we neither understood nor appreciated the fact that the exercise machine was a Peloton.
It looks like that Peloton Husband wasn't so stupid after all.
And certainly, neither was the Peloton marketing team.