The Peloton Ad Shows Our (Lack of) Humanity

Okay. I admit it. I own a Peloton exercise bike. Actually, I share it with my husband.

I forced him to buy it. I nagged, whined and withheld sex until he plonked down over $2,700 on a dual membership.

We take turns with clips, cadence and the damn resistance wheel from hell. Card-carrying members of the Peloton Family.

AND I DON’T EVEN LIKE TO RIDE.

Based on the internet’s reaction to the viral Peloton commercial, I am an asshole for insisting he purchase this overblown piece of fluff. The entire internet races to cynical, bottom-feeding conclusions over one thirty-second ad.

Her husband got her the Peloton because he wanted it for himself.

He’s a jerk for pushing unrealistic body image on his already rail-thin wife.

Anyone who spends $2,400 on an exercise bike is an elitist douche.

What an abusive dick-wad! I’d divorce his patriarchal ass!

That’s how my husband and I wound up awake after midnight, despairing over humanity’s collective lack of empathy.

Because thirty-second commercials don’t contain backstory, I’m making one up for this couple. Actually, I’m drawing it from our Peloton story.

Because my husband and I have a Peloton story. Maybe it’s THEIR story. You know, the much-maligned couple in the Peloton ad.

Suppose the wife was once an avid cyclist. Before she had a child, she clipped in multiple times a week, going for rides alone and in groups.

In 2015, she has an accident on a solo ride. A pedestrian steps out in front of her. She flips over the handlebars to keep from hitting a human being and shatters her right shoulder.

A surgeon rebuilds her joint with rubber bands, rivets and titanium. She almost dies from anesthesia during the seven-hour surgery.

But as soon as her shoulder heals, she gets back on the damn bike. By 2019, her goals are 1. Ride 3,000 miles in a year; 2. Complete at least one century (a 100-mile session); and 3. Ride with a former competitive cyclist.

She is on track to crush her goals. On a quick September ride, she wrecks and lands on her damaged shoulder, breaking it again.

Another frantic ER visit. X-rays. Surgical evaluations. Second opinions. She’s lucky to escape with her right arm in a sling for eight-to-ten weeks.

Her husband begs her to stop riding. While he helps her shower and dress, ties her shoes, doctors her wounds, and drives her everywhere, he tells her how thankful he is that things aren’t worse.

BECAUSE THEY COULD BE WORSE. Next time, she might break her neck.

Still, she refuses to give up riding. As soon as she is able, she will be back on the blasted bike.

In desperation, her husband surprises her with a Peloton. Cue the much-maligned Peloton ad.

Our Peloton story doesn’t exactly match the facts of the ad, but that’s not my point.

Sometimes, people invest in expensive exercise bikes to keep people they love from hurting themselves.

I have watched my husband suffer through two significant bicycle accidents. One surgery. Two lengthy recoveries.

I won’t keep my husband off his road bicycle. Next time, he may break more than a shoulder. Every time he clips in and pedals off, I act like it’s the last time I’ll see him whole and alive.

Call me dramatic, but people die on bicycles every day.

I insisted on the Peloton to give him another cycling option. A BETTER OPTION.

If a $2,700 investment keeps my husband fit, strong and off the highways more often than not, I’m delighted to forego pretty much anything.

I don’t understand why the internet couldn’t come to THAT conclusion about the Peloton ad. Why is the husband a dick? The wife a victim of patriarchal abuse?

Have we totally lost the ability to imagine backstories that don’t make one or every party in a 30-second commercial shitty?

Are we too obsessed with THE snarkiest tweet or THE viral meme? And in the process we neglect real, tangible, HUMAN stories in favor of likes, popularity, reach and virility?

Where does that leave us?

Even with my Peloton badass-ness, I’m not sure I want to go there.

NYT bestselling author NOT WITHOUT MY FATHER | speaker | dreamer | risk-taker | travel whore | turn I wish I had into I’m glad I did andrawatkins.com

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