“Welcome, Peloton family,” says instructor Mr Alex Toussaint, addressing the 50 members physically present for his half-hour Hiit class at a cycling studio in New York’s Chelsea, the 500 or so riding the class live at home on their touchscreen-equipped bikes, and the 5,000 or more who will ride the class on-demand in the coming fortnight. “We’ve got 30 minutes to be great and I plan to execute every second of that opportunity.”
Dubbed “the Netflix of fitness”, Peloton has also been described as a “cult”, which is apt for the fervour of its converts if not their number: more than a million across the US, Canada and the UK, including celebrities such as Mr David Beckham and Mr Hugh Jackman (now spared the ignominy of being papped in a sweaty mess whenever they work out). Normally, those members are restricted to communicating via the virtual leaderboard on their Peloton bike or treadmill, or the hundreds of unofficial Facebook groups. But on the weekend of 3-5 May, around 3,000 members, drawn from all over, descended on NY for the brand’s fifth annual Homecoming event.
Originally called “Home Rider Invasion”, Homecoming began when a group of enterprising members descended upon the studio to cycle together, and with their favourite instructor, in real life. Now hosted by Peloton, the event comprises live classes, various wellness pop-ups and instructor meet-and-greets, culminating in a red carpet “community celebration” at the Hammerstein Ballroom headlined by Beck. The real stars of the show, though, are the instructors, who are mobbed by members throughout. They’re part PT, part TV presenter, complete with minders – members are warned before classes start filming: “Do not rush the stage or we will take you out.” The New York Times even wrote an article on the burgeoning celebrities: “Peloton Instructors Ride for Fitness and Fame”.