After giving birth to her second child in 2016, Shiya Fursteneau, a 39-year-old yoga instructor and stay-at-home mom, couldn’t fathom going to an exercise class. It wasn’t the actual workout that was the problem—the idea of shouting positive affirmations in a SoulCycle class was an appealing break from her routine changing poopy diapers, nursing, and shuttling her toddler to preschool—she simply couldn’t make it happen. In addition to the daily duties of motherhood, there was also the financial burden of Ubering across the city and paying for a sitter on top of the already pricey class fee. All in, a single spin class would ultimately set her back the same amount as a fancy date night with her husband.
Fursteneau was fortunate not to be suffering from postpartum depression, but she was still struggling and exercise typically helped her manage this kind of stress and anxiety. She discussed the situation with her OB-GYN, who had a surprising suggestion: invest in a Peloton bike.
As a veteran of the fitness world, Fursteneau was aware of the brand’s promise to deliver “a private indoor cycling studio” to the comfort of one’s own home, but she was skeptical of the virtual workout experience. How could a screen possibly capture the energy of a room full of people or the pulse of physically being in the room with an instructor? Despite her hesitation, she felt out of options, so she splurged on one of the sleek black cycling machines (which start at $2,245—plus $39 per month for unlimited classes), expecting, at the very least, to finally get a good workout. What she got was more of a lifestyle revamp.
Come for the workout, stay for the community
The notion that group fitness inspires positive mental health is nothing new—studies have demonstrated this link time and again. What sets Peloton apart is that they have created a community that remains active the other twenty-some hours a day people aren’t sweating. “Peloton has improved my mental health, equally if not more than my physical health, because it not only gives me an outlet, but also a community,” Fursteneau says.
The Official Peloton Member page, first started by a member in 2015 and now moderated by the brand, has amassed 160,000 members around the world. But it’s the more niche groups that show just how deep Peloton’s digital communities roll—especially among moms. Clipped into her bike, Fursteneau tapped into a social network thousands of women strong that sliced through the stay-at-home mom isolation slowly taking over her psyche. There’s the incredibly active Official Peloton Mom Group, where 26,000 members discuss everything from class schedules to potty training tips; Working Moms of Peloton helps moms juggle school pickups with professional presentations; Peloton Moms Who Shop is a resource for women who love a good deal just as much as a good workout; and Peloton Moms Book Club, where you not only ride, but read together.
For the women in these groups, Peloton is a lifestyle—what happens off the bike can be just as important to their wellbeing as what happens during a workout. “I knew it was interactive in the sense of how the live classes worked and that the teachers could see the leaderboard and interact with riders by giving shout-outs, but I didn’t really know about the Facebook community,” Fursteneau says, adding that it’s been home to some of the most positive experiences she’s had on social media.