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Peloton: More than a Fancy Bike with Hot Instructors

Peloton is a lesson in creating a People First Culture.

Yes, your ride may begin with a shout out from your favorite instructor and end in your living room, but Peloton got it right way before that - they started with their people first.

Years ago, I had a desire to open up a fitness studio. I wanted to offer spin (indoor cycling), hot yoga and barre classes with dreams of luxury levels of customer experience, where we anticipated every customer’s need. In order to deliver on this, I knew I had to experience the business first. Where to start? Spin classes were always  a favorite of mine.

After class, I always had this incredible feeling of empowerment. Not only did I get an insane workout as I “sweat out a person," but my energy was vibrating so high that I felt like I could conquer the world. Because of this love of cycling, I knew I would enjoy learning how to teach it. I set the goal, got certified and found a local studio that would give this first-timer a chance to teach.

How did I find somewhere to let me teach?

I set my intention clearly and was firm on what I wanted. As I was looking for local studios, I found one and shockingly, I noticed that one of their instructors lived in my building. I was surprised yet delighted, because these things always seem to happen when I know what I really want.

As destiny would have it, the next day I walk into the elevator and he is standing right in front of me. I thought, it’s now or never. Go ahead and ask Jacqueline.

I said, “Hi, do you happen to work at…” He quizzically replied, “Ah, yes. Why?” I proceeded to tell him how I’m stalking local spin studios (not him) and saw his picture and yada, yada, yada (for all my Seinfeld fans).

He offered to help me get in and before I was hired, I had to teach a class in front of people that I invited. Yes, that actually happened! And, it was one of the most intimidating moments of my life. The studio was thrilled because it was the biggest trial class turnout ever and so many new people were exposed to their space. Thanks to my friends and coworkers who showed their support, the studio hired me. I share all of this back story, because not only is it part of my journey that got me here, but it is a lesson in intention setting. When you know what you want and take massive action – all of the powers that be will conspire to get you there.

During this time, I was researching the possibility of on-demand services and discovered that this new brand I never heard of called Peloton had been delivering on this concept for several years. After stumbling into a showroom in a local mall, I had the chance to hop on a bike and take a test drive.

In the world of automotive, we always say - "Butts in seats sell the car." Or, some may say "Feel the wheel, seal the deal." Either way, this experience was no different...or well, a little because I didn't leave the showroom. Once I felt the ride of the bike, my fascination with the brand strengthened and my desire to run a brick and mortar space faded away.

Shift Awake™ Group was eventually born and during this time there was a whole lot of transition, including a move into a new area in Jersey to begin this next phase of my life. I remember walking into the gym in this new building that had four Peloton bikes. The bikes primarily solidified my decision to move into this building, ok and the fact that it was an amazing location, had a pool and views of the Freedom Tower. But, go with me on the Peloton thing for a bit.

I began riding the bike daily. I loved the classes they offered, the instructors and the fact that I felt like I was transported into a spin class from the comfort of my 11th floor apartment gym. Now, anyone who’s taken these classes knows that you may actually start having fun! The music intensity may inspire some bike-dancing, out loud singing or just plan heavy breathing.

Caution: If you are in a gym with many other people, there will be stares, weird facial expressions and perhaps some words exchanged. If you’re like me, you may not care because, who said working out shouldn’t be fun?!

These bikes became a regular part of my workout routine. If one wasn’t available, my heart cried a little bit…and I would quietly walk my way over to the treadmill and continue a “regular” workout.

Why did I fall in love with them so much?

Besides the fact that the product is amazing, it wasn’t just a workout for me. As a rider, it also was a way to form community. Not only can you see who is showing up to sweat too, you can also give and get support with high fives, see your metrics to experience competition, receive shout outs by the instructors for your “ride” celebrations. What makes the experience so special? The instructors deliberately build relationships with their riders and are seen as coaches, therapists, friends, celebrities, and some feel like family. The culture that Peloton created can be felt by all that use their products and services, and that’s what got me hooked.

When you think of culture, what comes to mind?

Do you think of summer hours and ping pong tables? How about business casual dress codes and unlimited vacation days?

Many of us have experienced companies that offer all of these “things” in an effort to create a good culture. And, these things may do just that, make everyone feel good. However, feeling good alone isn’t the basis for high performance.

As a CEO, President, Founder, Owner…is good satisfactory to you? Or, do you want to create a culture that wins?

What’s the difference between a good culture and a winning culture?

High performing companies think differently about culture.

They know that a culture that wins puts people first, practices conscious leadership, is focused on targets and communicates how the team can achieve them together. Most importantly, a culture that wins is purpose driven and knows that profits will generously follow. Ultimately, that’s what so many businesses want. They want to be profitable and they wonder why the good culture they’ve created isn’t launching them to where they want to be, it’s because there is still a gap.

Until you realize that it is critical for your organizational growth, employee engagement and customer loyalty to think and approach your business differently, the gap will remain.

What’s a possible first step to closing the gap?

If you’re the head honcho in charge, it’s time to look in the mirror and get real with why you started your business in the first place. If you’re feeling disconnected from how you began or you are just beginning, I encourage you to read a book called “Vivid Vision” by Cameron Herold. I wrote about this in another blog. This is a great place to start when it comes to getting back in alignment with where you want the company to be in the future.

The reason I like this philosophy on vision writing is because it flips the process that you may have traditionally been exposed to in the past. We’ve all heard how mission, vision and values should be short and succinct, but Cameron encourages more dialogue and expansion on your concepts to allow for greater input and bigger vivid descriptions of your desires. Secondly, pick up a copy of “Conscious Capitalism” by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia. This book will help you understand the philosophies behind creating a conscious culture that will lead you into a culture that wins.

Now, let’s get back to my story.

Plot twist! All of my daily Peloton love came to a halt last month. Why? I moved! Oh, what a day that was when I went into my new gym without my Peloton option. What is a girl to do? With dreams of Jess King (one of my favorite instructors) in my head, I lasted a month before I pulled the trigger and ordered my very own bike. Last week, Christmas came early, and she arrived…accompanied by three people.

As I opened the door, I was greeted by a Peloton associate.

Smiling from ear to ear, he said hello and asked if I was excited?! My answer, “I’m sooooo excited. Come on in, I’ve already cleared a space for my bike.” Kindly he asked, “Would you like for me to take off my shoes?” I was taken back because usually I’m the one that has to ask vendors to please do this.

Moving on, I noticed that he had complete Peloton gear on which made the experience feel even more real for me. He informed me that he had two other associates with him. He proceeded to walk me through the process of getting the bike in and set up. He seemed so genuinely happy that my curiosity was piqued.

I asked him, “Are you with a third party or do you work for Peloton?” He said, “We all work directly with Peloton.” I was surprised because it's not often that a delivery team isn't a third party. His answer made sense as they all smiled and happily did the role they were playing in this delivery. He proceeded to tell me how well they are treated by the company, which offers stock options and various friends and family benefits.

As he was speaking, the other associate chimed in offering that this is the best job she’s ever had! She said that after she left to have her child, she decided to go back to work and applied with the brand, again. As they proceeded to get my bike prepped and ready for me, they took every precaution to ensure my home was treated with respect and that my new bike was pristine upon delivery.

What was the biggest lesson I learned from my Peloton delivery?

When you treat your people well, they treat your customers even better.

Leaders, energy transfers. If you want to create a culture that wins, you must do better with your people. When you elevate your people in your business strategy, your customers feel the appreciation they feel from you. It’s the cycle of conscious business. If you’re from Peloton and you happen to read this article, your team told me they love making dreams happen for their customers every day and I’m here to tell you, they helped one of mine come true that day.

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