Does Peloton have a Nate problem? Maybe yes, maybe no, but there was a lesson in talent risk for Peloton from Ted Lasso: For those that watched the Season 2 finale of Ted Lasso this week, you’ll know that Nate’s slow slide into jealousy and bitterness was fully realized as he attempted to sabotage his coach and teammates before joining a key rival team. How can Peloton manage this risk as its community grows?
Do I really think Peloton has a Nate in its ranks? Of course not. The point is: Peloton won so many of our hearts and minds through the amazing dedication of its talented instructors. As the community grows, can their attentiveness to the audience scale?
Yesterday I found myself in the midst of a busy Saturday morning – I had a course final project to complete, a house to clean and dinner to prep AND I still needed to work out. As I stepped onto my Peloton bike, it told me I should get ready for MY 400th RIDE! I thought to myself, “How could I forget it was today?” and “I need to do a live ride so I can get lots of high fives and an instructor SHOUTOUT!” Oh how I’ve always wanted the elusive shoutout, and with 400 rides, I was most definitely going to get one.
I popped open the schedule and found that the most motivational of Peloton instructors, the one and only Alex Toussaint (@alextoussaint25) was about to delivery his 60 minute Club Bangers ride, which is nothing if not a sweat-fest. I joined the class and started to smile with glee as the high fives started rolling in from my classmates who were alerted to the fact that I was on ride 400. YES!
Over the next 60 minutes, I got a killer workout and a ton of high fives, but no shoutout. Am I disappointed? A little, but what happened during the ride made me quite a bit more understanding. People hitting 2000 ride goals. 1000 ride goals. 800 ride goals. 500 ride goals. And just like me 400 ride goals. Out of 3000 people on that live ride, there were probably 50 people who received shoutouts. That’s about 1.5% of the riders.
Realization: With greater scale comes greater numbers of people hitting goals. Less of those people will be able to get a shoutout even if they deserve one. Mo’ riders. Mo’ Problems.
Likely because I still had Ted Lasso on the brain after Friday night’s finale, that made me think about the follow-on implications of this trend. If you or anyone you know has become a member of the Peloton tribe, they probably would tell you that a big part of what contributed to their love of the brand was the quality of the instructors. Energetic, dedicated, fit, witty and beautiful, they are representative of all of the aspirations of the community.
And it’s NOT an easy job. Not only does one need to maintain the physical fitness required for the role. One has to be ON, ALL THE TIME! While running/riding/training, the instructors need to be eyeing their monitors for those who are hitting the milestones, offering words of encouragement and YES, shoutouts. There’s not much room for error, let alone, the small personal touches they may have once been able to provide when the community was smaller.
In “We Need to Talk About Nate“, @chaneyj captured one of the most essential parts of the dilemma for AFC Richmond. Nate was observant enough to critique Ted Lasso himself for his biggest flaw, one that the show itself had not yet addressed head on – Ted himself was neglecting his fatherly responsibilities by being half a world away.
Key takeaway: Ted is not perfect. Despite their incredible bodies, neither are Peloton instructors.
All if this points to the number one challenge for Peloton as it grows: doing right by their instructors and making each feel appreciated enough to maintain their excellence. Making each feel special enough to the brand, even as they continue to hire more coaches in more geographies. That they do not view their fellow coaches as receiving more attention and look to fitness rivals where they can take top billing.