GET FIT TECH
Sign up for the FREE digital edition of Fit Tech magazine and also get the Fit Tech ezine and breaking news email alerts.
Not right now, thanksclose this window
Technogym
Technogym
Technogym
features

Interview: John Foley

Founder and CEO, Peloton

Ever since its state-of-the-art bikes entered living rooms in 2014, Peloton has been transforming home fitness, giving members access to live boutique cycling classes. Fit Tech speaks to founder and CEO John Foley about the brand’s journey...

Published in Fit Tech 2020 issue 1

What was your background before founding Peloton?
I began my career working in manufacturing at Mars Inc. I went on to work for various consumer technology brands, including Pronto.com, where I served as CEO and was also a co-founder of both Evite.com and Citysearch.com.

Prior to Peloton, I was president of Barnes & Noble. This background in manufacturing and technology, combined with my own passion for boutique fitness, led me to start Peloton.

How did you come up with the concept for Peloton?
My wife, Jill, and I have always been pretty serious about staying fit and we enjoyed going to boutique studio fitness classes. But, with an increasingly busy work schedule and two young children, we found that we were struggling to work out as much as we wanted. I felt that there had to be a better way, a way where you could digitise and scale the experience, and so the idea of Peloton was born.

Why did you decide to create your own bike, rather than simply creating a streaming platform?
Peloton sits at the nexus of fitness, technology and media, but that concept evolved over time. In the early years, we knew we wanted to be a software company, so we looked at the hardware options already out there and considered adding our software to someone else’s bike. However, there hadn’t been much innovation or capital in the category so we decided to build our own bike.

How did you turn your concept into reality?
At first, my co-founders and I were incredibly focused on technology and getting the product right. We launched a Kickstarter campaign for the bike and did a small amount of marketing on Facebook. In late 2013, we found a retail space in the Short Hills shopping mall in New Jersey. This would become our first showroom; we now have over 80 across the US, UK, Canada and Germany.

The next area of focus was logistics – we knew we wanted to deliver the bikes ourselves and be able to tell our new members about the product. So, we hired a van and tested deliveries in a few zip codes in New Jersey. Today, we still deliver 70 per cent of our bikes and treads.

When designing the bike, what features did it need to have?
We put a ton of thought and engineering into the design and technology of the bike, which we believe is the best out there. As the bike is designed for home use, there were certain features it absolutely had to have.

For example, the near silent belt drive, which enables our members to ride without noise or disruption, and the magnetic resistance – there is no contact between the moving wheel and the brake, leading to a much smoother feel and more consistent braking force on the bike.

How did investors take to the concept?
For investors in the early days, Peloton felt capital intensive with a high operational risk, so they didn’t initially see that it was a good idea. We were also doing something completely new, so for some potential investors the vision felt too far-fetched, that we were trying to be too much. However, my co-founders and I could see what needed to be done not only to fill a gap in the marketplace, but also to create an entirely new category and so we kept going.

Who is Peloton’s main target market?
We have a very diverse member community across everything from geography to socio-economic level. They are often time-poor so really appreciate the ability to fit an amazing workout into their busy schedules.

Overall, we created a product that allows people to connect with a community that shares their passion, without having to leave the comfort and convenience of their own home.

Tell us more about your journey growing the Peloton brand?
In the early days, we had the challenge of convincing investors of our vision, but Peloton has grown rapidly and is now the category leader for connected fitness. We have a highly engaged audience of 1.6 million members worldwide.

In 2018, we began our expansion, starting with the UK and Canada. This year we launched in Germany, our first non-English-speaking market. We’ve introduced German instructors and a fully localised bike UI for our German members.

In terms of people, we’ve grown from a team of four to over 2,000 employees globally.

Tell us about Peloton digital
The Peloton app launched in 2018. It’s complimentary for all bike and tread owners and provides access to all of our content anytime, anywhere. You can also purchase our digital membership as a standalone product.

Over time, we’ve introduced more and more features on our app. For example, this year we added GPS metrics for our outdoor content and Apple Watch integration for members working out with the Peloton app on their iPhone. This means more and better metrics and improved control access. In addition, we’ve just launched on Amazon Fire TV so you can take one of our classes – anything from strength to yoga – in front of the largest screen in your home.

Digital is an exciting opportunity, as we can provide even more people with access to our content. For example, people who already own a non-Peloton stationary bike or treadmill can now transform their workout experience.

Do you supply Peloton bikes and treadmills to many businesses?
Our focus will always be B2C. However, since we delivered our first bikes in 2014, we’ve heard from our community that they want to continue working out with Peloton while they travel. Today, there are hundreds of hotels that have purchased Peloton bikes for their guests to enjoy.

For our members, the availability of bikes at hotels means they can continue their Peloton experience and stay connected to their fitness routines even while away from home. It also enables us to bring our brand to an entirely new audience, who we’re sure will fall in love with the Peloton experience as well.

Last year, we launched an interactive Hotel Finder map so that Peloton members can not only search for properties that have Peloton bikes, but they can also search and book hotels directly through the site.

We also work with a select number of corporate partners to provide the Peloton experience to their employees.

Do you see Peloton as competing solely with other at-home fitness products, or is it also competing with studios like SoulCycle?
No one is doing what we’re doing, anywhere in the world – combining the best software, hardware, content and experience in one place. We created the category and we’re confident about the quality and uniqueness of the Peloton experience, so we spend a lot more time thinking about how we can continue to innovate and deliver the best possible experience to our members globally than focusing on competition.

Speaking of focusing on your members, how do you use their data?
We provide data for all of our members to track their own workouts and progress over time. One of my favourite pieces of work we do is our annual year in review.

Each member receives an overview of their workouts from that given year, the instructor they took the most classes with and some fun, comparative stats.

We also use data to inform content choices, such as the length and type of classes we’re producing, which ultimately improves the experience for our members.

How do you manage music licencing? Would you say it’s essential to your business to be able to use popular music, despite the high costs and legal issues?
Music is a hugely important part of our business and, in many ways, we are a music discovery platform. We have agreements with major publishers, record labels and performing rights organisations, as well as many independent publishers and labels. These agreements provide licenses to a broad catalogue of music that our instructors can choose from to help them programme great class content.

In 2018, we began working with a few artists, who we know our members and instructors love to ride to, for the launch of a series celebrating their music in artist-dedicated classes. This has been a great success, and we’ve worked with some incredible artists, such as Lizzo, JLo, Paul McCartney, Madonna and Pink.

Last year, we also launched a Track Love feature, which allows members using our hardware to save songs from our classes to a playlist in their Apple Music or Spotify accounts for later listening and sharing.

Do you have plans to release any new products or features?
Our research and development team is always working on ideas and this past year we’ve introduced lots of new features, including an improved home screen on the bike, which brings personalised class recommendations to front and centre. Many of these have been launched based on member feedback. Ultimately, our true north star is ensuring that members have the best experience possible — whatever innovations we may have on the horizon.

What do you predict home fitness will look like in 5 or 10 years?
Technology will continue to play a huge role. For Peloton, technology underlies everything we do and it’s a big differentiator for us. Also, I think there will be more focus on the breadth of content. At Peloton, we produce broadcast quality content from state-of-the-art studios and we’re continually introducing new formats.

What aspect of Peloton and its journey are you most proud of?
Peloton started off with a bike, but we never set out to be just a bike company and I’m most proud of how the company has grown and evolved. Since launch, we’ve introduced new hardware (the Peloton Tread), yoga and many other content formats. We’ve expanded internationally and grown our community to 1.6 million members worldwide. This year, we’ll launch state-of-the-art studios in London’s Covent Garden and NYC’s Midtown West.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position

Staying sticky

Bob Lawson explains how digital fitness platforms and apps can maximise retention and prevent churn
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

Game designers have figured out how to keep people unhealthily addicted to games. If only you could be the hero in a game that levelled up your life

Collect wind power as you move

Researchers in China have designed a tiny device that can scavenge wind energy from the breeze you make when you walk or run

Clubs without walls

Venueserve Fitness is working with the Health Club Collection to drive its digital customer engagement
interview

Rodrigo Jesus, Salus Optima

Everything we do is evidence based and scientifically proven. Our technology is grounded in science and we have dozens of scientists and experts who collaborate with us in human performance

Sky x Fiit

Fiit has secured a deal with TV giant Sky, to make its virtual workout platform available through the subscription-based Sky Q service. With 20 per cent of Fiit users now accessing the app through Sky, Fit Tech speaks to Fraser Stirling and Daniel Shellard to find out more
people

Devi Mahadevia

Facebook director of sports and fitness partnerships
With Facebook paid online events, publishers can charge viewers to attend a video livestream on their Facebook pages or a third party video service
interview

Blurring the lines

Les Mills has launched a suite of digital solutions to help gyms future-proof by expanding their reach in the booming online fitness space, while complementing their live offerings. Steph Eaves talks to Les Mills International’s CMO Anna Henwood to find out more
people

Kevin Dawidowicz

President, CoachMePlus
Fitness apps are designed to train clients, without a trainer on the other side. We give coaches a tool for connection

Virtual wellbeing check

Feelings of pressure, isolation and performance anxiety are commonly experienced by athletes, however it isn’t always easy for clubs to identify those who are struggling. Richard Lucas, founder of GoVox, explains how technology can help

Fit Tech Leadership Report

Fit tech is a growing, competitive sector. Executive search firm, Stronger Talent, recently analysed the backgrounds of more than 300 fit tech executives to provide insights into recruiting strategies, as Pete Leibman explains

Digital retention top performers

Three digital fitness platforms tell Fit Tech how they work to achieve higher levels of customer retention
Editor's letter

Big (fit) tech

We’re entering the age of the wellness mega-corp, with the ultimate goal for investors being to dominate health and wellness markets in every channel. Prepare to expect the unexpected in this convergence of health, fitness and wellness

Funxtion: A brand new app

FunXtion and GoodLife Fitness are collaborating to help Canadians stay fit in the gym and at home
interview

Robotic muscles

We identified the need to step beyond the current approaches to muscle weakness, and move instead to placing robotic muscles exactly where they’re needed – inside the body
interview

Lindsay Cook, FitOn

Not everyone can afford an expensive piece of fitness equipment or a personal trainer, but everyone has a smartphone

Fighting COVID-19

In the aftermath of the pandemic, people will be more aware of the importance of their health and the strength of their immune system. Can fit tech alert users to potential immunodeficiencies or symptoms? And might these products assist governments? We asked industry leaders for their predictions
interview

PureGym

We’ve been ranked number two on the App Store for health and fitness, second only to Fitbit
people

Richard Hanbury

Founder and CEO, Sana
I was in Yemen, close to the capital, Sana’a, when I had the accident that put me in a wheelchair and gave me a chronic nerve damage pain problem. This led me to develop the underlying technology of Sana
Editor's letter

Monetising digital

Having made a lightening fast pivot to digital during lockdown, gym operators are now figuring out how to optimise the assets they’ve invested in – it’s time to monetise digital and find ways to create hybrid models
people

Patrick Lucey

VP of AI, Stats Perform
We can capture tracking data from historical videos, enabling us to do large scale comparisons of players, such as Michael Jordan, across eras
interview

Daniel Sobhani, Freeletics

People are set up for failure by the fitness industry with false promises and unrealistic expectations. We’ve always wanted to put a stop to this, and with Mindset Coaching we’re taking the next step
interview

Forme Life: Trent Ward & Yves Béhar

We have such a timeless design that this product will fit into the home for a long time
Featured supplier: FunXtion enhance interactive workouts with the launch of Virtual Player
Digital meets personal with the new Virtual Player from FunXtion, experts in interactive fitness, which allows clubs to stream and schedule world class virtual classes anytime, providing an interactive workout experience on the gym floor, functional area or directly to members at home via an app.
Mywellness App 5.0
Technogym
Mywellness helps you assess customer needs, provide great workouts and programmes, guarantee a training spot on the gym floor, offer group training, track indoor and outdoor workouts - even with 3rd party apps. Read more
Company profile: Mindbody
Mindbody is the leading technology platform for the wellness industry, featuring an app that allows ...
Company profile: Legend Club Management Systems (UK) Ltd
Legend provides the leading software solution for driving improvements in leisure operations. We deliver savings ...
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Exercise equipment
Matrix Fitness: Exercise equipment
Fitness equipment
Precor: Fitness equipment
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Featured supplier: FunXtion enhance interactive workouts with the launch of Virtual Player
Digital meets personal with the new Virtual Player from FunXtion, experts in interactive fitness, which allows clubs to stream and schedule world class virtual classes anytime, providing an interactive workout experience on the gym floor, functional area or directly to members at home via an app.
Company profile: Mindbody
Mindbody is the leading technology platform for the wellness industry, featuring an app that allows ...
Company profile: Legend Club Management Systems (UK) Ltd
Legend provides the leading software solution for driving improvements in leisure operations. We deliver savings ...
Mywellness App 5.0
Technogym
Mywellness helps you assess customer needs, provide great workouts and programmes, guarantee a training spot on the gym floor, offer group training, track indoor and outdoor workouts - even with 3rd party apps. Read more
Get Fit Tech
Sign up for the free digital edition of Fit Tech magazine and the free weekly Fit Tech ezine
Sign up
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Exercise equipment
Matrix Fitness: Exercise equipment
Fitness equipment
Precor: Fitness equipment
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring

latest fit tech news

The Gym Group has extended its partnership with digital fitness platform Fiit, becoming the first budget gym operator to offer ...
Digital fitness platform Fiit has launched an interactive fitness app for the UK market, which is capable of creating a ...
Fitness startup Arena Innovation has secured US$5.2m worth of seed funding, as it looks to launch its robotically-assisted resistance training ...
Digital fitness content provider, Wexer, is launching a new wellness resource on its connected Web Player. Called Mind123, it will ...
iFIT Health & Fitness has acquired Sweat, the popular, female-focused fitness platform set up in 2015 by Australian fitness trainer ...
Digital fitness coaching firm Asensei has released an API platform which allows developers of connected fitness products and apps to ...
Ojmar has launched OCS SMART, a next-generation smart lock that can be controlled via a mobile phone, tablet, or smart ...
Peloton is rumoured to be expanding its at-home fitness accessories with the launch of a heart rate sensor or tracker. ...
The Great Outdoor Gym Company (TGO) has launched a digital fitness platform. The outdoor fitness equipment provider's new TGO-Activate.com service ...
Magicline gym management software – the system used by RSG Group – has been launched globally in English by owner, ...
Physiotherapists, fitness coaches and other physical health practitioners will be offered access to leading motion analysis technology normally only available ...
Fifty-eight percent of US households have a smartwatch or fitness tracker, and 39 per cent of consumers own one personally. ...
More fit tech news
features

Interview: John Foley

Founder and CEO, Peloton

Ever since its state-of-the-art bikes entered living rooms in 2014, Peloton has been transforming home fitness, giving members access to live boutique cycling classes. Fit Tech speaks to founder and CEO John Foley about the brand’s journey...

Published in Fit Tech 2020 issue 1

What was your background before founding Peloton?
I began my career working in manufacturing at Mars Inc. I went on to work for various consumer technology brands, including Pronto.com, where I served as CEO and was also a co-founder of both Evite.com and Citysearch.com.

Prior to Peloton, I was president of Barnes & Noble. This background in manufacturing and technology, combined with my own passion for boutique fitness, led me to start Peloton.

How did you come up with the concept for Peloton?
My wife, Jill, and I have always been pretty serious about staying fit and we enjoyed going to boutique studio fitness classes. But, with an increasingly busy work schedule and two young children, we found that we were struggling to work out as much as we wanted. I felt that there had to be a better way, a way where you could digitise and scale the experience, and so the idea of Peloton was born.

Why did you decide to create your own bike, rather than simply creating a streaming platform?
Peloton sits at the nexus of fitness, technology and media, but that concept evolved over time. In the early years, we knew we wanted to be a software company, so we looked at the hardware options already out there and considered adding our software to someone else’s bike. However, there hadn’t been much innovation or capital in the category so we decided to build our own bike.

How did you turn your concept into reality?
At first, my co-founders and I were incredibly focused on technology and getting the product right. We launched a Kickstarter campaign for the bike and did a small amount of marketing on Facebook. In late 2013, we found a retail space in the Short Hills shopping mall in New Jersey. This would become our first showroom; we now have over 80 across the US, UK, Canada and Germany.

The next area of focus was logistics – we knew we wanted to deliver the bikes ourselves and be able to tell our new members about the product. So, we hired a van and tested deliveries in a few zip codes in New Jersey. Today, we still deliver 70 per cent of our bikes and treads.

When designing the bike, what features did it need to have?
We put a ton of thought and engineering into the design and technology of the bike, which we believe is the best out there. As the bike is designed for home use, there were certain features it absolutely had to have.

For example, the near silent belt drive, which enables our members to ride without noise or disruption, and the magnetic resistance – there is no contact between the moving wheel and the brake, leading to a much smoother feel and more consistent braking force on the bike.

How did investors take to the concept?
For investors in the early days, Peloton felt capital intensive with a high operational risk, so they didn’t initially see that it was a good idea. We were also doing something completely new, so for some potential investors the vision felt too far-fetched, that we were trying to be too much. However, my co-founders and I could see what needed to be done not only to fill a gap in the marketplace, but also to create an entirely new category and so we kept going.

Who is Peloton’s main target market?
We have a very diverse member community across everything from geography to socio-economic level. They are often time-poor so really appreciate the ability to fit an amazing workout into their busy schedules.

Overall, we created a product that allows people to connect with a community that shares their passion, without having to leave the comfort and convenience of their own home.

Tell us more about your journey growing the Peloton brand?
In the early days, we had the challenge of convincing investors of our vision, but Peloton has grown rapidly and is now the category leader for connected fitness. We have a highly engaged audience of 1.6 million members worldwide.

In 2018, we began our expansion, starting with the UK and Canada. This year we launched in Germany, our first non-English-speaking market. We’ve introduced German instructors and a fully localised bike UI for our German members.

In terms of people, we’ve grown from a team of four to over 2,000 employees globally.

Tell us about Peloton digital
The Peloton app launched in 2018. It’s complimentary for all bike and tread owners and provides access to all of our content anytime, anywhere. You can also purchase our digital membership as a standalone product.

Over time, we’ve introduced more and more features on our app. For example, this year we added GPS metrics for our outdoor content and Apple Watch integration for members working out with the Peloton app on their iPhone. This means more and better metrics and improved control access. In addition, we’ve just launched on Amazon Fire TV so you can take one of our classes – anything from strength to yoga – in front of the largest screen in your home.

Digital is an exciting opportunity, as we can provide even more people with access to our content. For example, people who already own a non-Peloton stationary bike or treadmill can now transform their workout experience.

Do you supply Peloton bikes and treadmills to many businesses?
Our focus will always be B2C. However, since we delivered our first bikes in 2014, we’ve heard from our community that they want to continue working out with Peloton while they travel. Today, there are hundreds of hotels that have purchased Peloton bikes for their guests to enjoy.

For our members, the availability of bikes at hotels means they can continue their Peloton experience and stay connected to their fitness routines even while away from home. It also enables us to bring our brand to an entirely new audience, who we’re sure will fall in love with the Peloton experience as well.

Last year, we launched an interactive Hotel Finder map so that Peloton members can not only search for properties that have Peloton bikes, but they can also search and book hotels directly through the site.

We also work with a select number of corporate partners to provide the Peloton experience to their employees.

Do you see Peloton as competing solely with other at-home fitness products, or is it also competing with studios like SoulCycle?
No one is doing what we’re doing, anywhere in the world – combining the best software, hardware, content and experience in one place. We created the category and we’re confident about the quality and uniqueness of the Peloton experience, so we spend a lot more time thinking about how we can continue to innovate and deliver the best possible experience to our members globally than focusing on competition.

Speaking of focusing on your members, how do you use their data?
We provide data for all of our members to track their own workouts and progress over time. One of my favourite pieces of work we do is our annual year in review.

Each member receives an overview of their workouts from that given year, the instructor they took the most classes with and some fun, comparative stats.

We also use data to inform content choices, such as the length and type of classes we’re producing, which ultimately improves the experience for our members.

How do you manage music licencing? Would you say it’s essential to your business to be able to use popular music, despite the high costs and legal issues?
Music is a hugely important part of our business and, in many ways, we are a music discovery platform. We have agreements with major publishers, record labels and performing rights organisations, as well as many independent publishers and labels. These agreements provide licenses to a broad catalogue of music that our instructors can choose from to help them programme great class content.

In 2018, we began working with a few artists, who we know our members and instructors love to ride to, for the launch of a series celebrating their music in artist-dedicated classes. This has been a great success, and we’ve worked with some incredible artists, such as Lizzo, JLo, Paul McCartney, Madonna and Pink.

Last year, we also launched a Track Love feature, which allows members using our hardware to save songs from our classes to a playlist in their Apple Music or Spotify accounts for later listening and sharing.

Do you have plans to release any new products or features?
Our research and development team is always working on ideas and this past year we’ve introduced lots of new features, including an improved home screen on the bike, which brings personalised class recommendations to front and centre. Many of these have been launched based on member feedback. Ultimately, our true north star is ensuring that members have the best experience possible — whatever innovations we may have on the horizon.

What do you predict home fitness will look like in 5 or 10 years?
Technology will continue to play a huge role. For Peloton, technology underlies everything we do and it’s a big differentiator for us. Also, I think there will be more focus on the breadth of content. At Peloton, we produce broadcast quality content from state-of-the-art studios and we’re continually introducing new formats.

What aspect of Peloton and its journey are you most proud of?
Peloton started off with a bike, but we never set out to be just a bike company and I’m most proud of how the company has grown and evolved. Since launch, we’ve introduced new hardware (the Peloton Tread), yoga and many other content formats. We’ve expanded internationally and grown our community to 1.6 million members worldwide. This year, we’ll launch state-of-the-art studios in London’s Covent Garden and NYC’s Midtown West.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position

Staying sticky

Bob Lawson explains how digital fitness platforms and apps can maximise retention and prevent churn
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

Game designers have figured out how to keep people unhealthily addicted to games. If only you could be the hero in a game that levelled up your life

Collect wind power as you move

Researchers in China have designed a tiny device that can scavenge wind energy from the breeze you make when you walk or run

Clubs without walls

Venueserve Fitness is working with the Health Club Collection to drive its digital customer engagement
interview

Rodrigo Jesus, Salus Optima

The result is a powerful, holistic data-driven, outcome-focused, highly personalised application that helps people to achieve their goals and deal with the natural day-to-day problems

Sky x Fiit

Fiit has secured a deal with TV giant Sky, to make its virtual workout platform available through the subscription-based Sky Q service. With 20 per cent of Fiit users now accessing the app through Sky, Fit Tech speaks to Fraser Stirling and Daniel Shellard to find out more
people

Devi Mahadevia

Facebook director of sports and fitness partnerships
With Facebook paid online events, publishers can charge viewers to attend a video livestream on their Facebook pages or a third party video service
interview

Blurring the lines

Les Mills has launched a suite of digital solutions to help gyms future-proof by expanding their reach in the booming online fitness space, while complementing their live offerings. Steph Eaves talks to Les Mills International’s CMO Anna Henwood to find out more
people

Kevin Dawidowicz

President, CoachMePlus
Fitness apps are designed to train clients, without a trainer on the other side. We give coaches a tool for connection

Virtual wellbeing check

Feelings of pressure, isolation and performance anxiety are commonly experienced by athletes, however it isn’t always easy for clubs to identify those who are struggling. Richard Lucas, founder of GoVox, explains how technology can help

Fit Tech Leadership Report

Fit tech is a growing, competitive sector. Executive search firm, Stronger Talent, recently analysed the backgrounds of more than 300 fit tech executives to provide insights into recruiting strategies, as Pete Leibman explains
Technogym
Technogym