I’m sorry Peloton bike girl

Im sorry Peloton bike girl

Peloton’s new ad shows a young woman coming downstairs to an exercise bike on Christmas morning. Throughout the commercial the young woman is seen vlogging her experience as she uses her new bike. The commercial ends a year later with a woman showing her progress to her husband. 

There are many factors in this commercial, titled ‘the gift that gives back’, that have been controversial.  The multi million dollar modern house, the 2,000 dollar bike and the additional 40 dollar monthly subscription have all caused an upset over how unrealistic it is. The woman who is gifted the bike also appears to be very in shape and not in need of getting ‘healthy’ or losing weight.

While watching it the first time I thought it was weird. Something about gifting an exercise bike was passive aggressive to me. Does the husband think his wife is out of shape or overweight? Clearly the wife is in peak physical condition. Who is this monster husband encouraging her to lose weight? 

As the controversy went viral, I looked further into the ad.  As I read more blogs and opinion articles I realized I had made a big mistake. By quickly seeing this as just another ad that will discourage women, I lost sight of another thing that means a lot to me; exercise. 

Growing up as a competitive swimmer I have always heard comments about my weight. Swimming is an exercise known for the calories burned during it. As I got older I realized people saw the sport I loved merely as a way to lose weight. People would talk about how much food I was eating, and joke around saying ‘you can eat as much as you want’ in reference to a swim practice I would soon be attending. In the past few years, I have started to realize what a weird thing that is to say to a little girl. The sport I play should not determine the amount you think I should be eating. 

Exercising never used to be a way for me to lose weight. I did not become a swimmer to lose weight or burn calories. I started swimming because I loved it. I kept swimming because my parents needed me to get my energy out. As I got older, swimming became an outlet where I could let negative energy out as well. I found a new passion as I wanted to be better and better every time. Slowly though the stigma of losing weight in the exercise community was getting to me. Why couldn’t people see swimming the way I saw it? As something fun. 

Like so many others I did the same thing to this girl that has been done to me. I saw a skinny girl who was exercising and immediately thought it was to lose weight. And for that I’m sorry. 

In this 30 second ad we assume so much because that is what society has come to see exercise as; a way to lose weight. Maybe this girl is struggling with anxiety, depression or another mental illness. Maybe this, like swimming is for me, is an outlet for her stress. Or maybe even though she is slim, she is not as strong as she wants to be. There are so many reasons for a person to buy this product other than the weight loss aspect. 

Strength and health can be physical or mental. We need to stop seeing those words and immediately picturing a certain person. We need to remember healthy and skinny are not synonyms. Imagine how many more people would start to exercise if exercising was not about weight. So Peloton bike girl, or any other person who feels judged for doing something, don’t forget the reason why you started what you’re doing.