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Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Peloton Bike is a display of the privileges of the wealthy

During a time when staying healthy is vital, it’s easiest for the upper class to stay fit while avoiding COVID-19

The term “pay for convenience” has never been more applicable than with the 2012 introduction of the Peloton bike: a stationary spin bike that combines the experience of instructor-led classes and the convenience of your own home all into one. 

At a staggering price of $1895, the basic model Peloton is a bike touted as an “immersive cardio experience” with a sweatproof 22 inch HD touchscreen, connecting you to a variety of instructor-led programs and challenges that are only accessible with a separate $39 a month all-access membership that is required with the bike’s purchase. 

If you are feeling adventurous and want to pay two months rent (in Davis) for an exercise machine, you can purchase the Peloton Bike+ which will run you $2495 for the basic plan. It comes with a 24 inch HD touchscreen that rotates 360 degrees and an even more tricked out audio system than the original Peloton, with two front and rear facing speakers. 

Not even a government-issued stimulus check can cover the cost of owning a Peloton.

Prior to the pandemic, Peloton was viewed as a luxury item for the rich; an indicator of which tax bracket someone is in. 

However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, gyms closing and lack of outdoor exercise accommodations, the world set its sights on Peloton, and its popularity has skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Given the increased demand for the bike, Peloton bought Precor, a fitness equipment provider, for $420 million in cash to add 625,000 square feet of production space in order to deliver Peloton bikes even faster to its members. 

Peloton is projected to make approximately $1.8 billion in sales in 2020, with its membership base increasing from 550,000 people at the start of 2020 to over 880,000 today.

According to Pew Research on “Trends in Income and Wealth Inequality,” a country’s Gini Coefficient is a statistical indicator representing the wealth distribution in a country between a 0-1 range, where 0 means wealth is distributed equally for each member of that country and an 1 indicates that wealth is held by one person. This coefficient can help standardize the degree of wealth inequality in a country. 

The U.S. has a Gini Coefficient score of .488. In other words, there is considerable income inequality in the U.S. where wealth is unequally distributed into the pockets of the upper-income households.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity prevalence has increased from 30.5% to 42.4% from 1999-2000 to 2017–2018 with 1 in 3 Americans being considered obese. Not only that, but there are roughly 655,000 Americans dying from heart disease each year.

In addition, there is a correlation between socioeconomic class and obesity in which often those who are poorer have lower qualities of health. 

In a country suffering from economic decline, a global pandemic and a health crisis of obesity and diabetes where those who have a lower income are most affected, it is somewhat appropriate to infer that an almost $2000 bike isn’t for the average American—it’s for the economically stable. 

As gyms became inaccessible during a time where staying in good health is imperative and doing at home workouts became the norm, those with the financial means could bring the convenience of a gym membership to their very own living rooms, while those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 lost access to their typical means of staying fit. 

Many people would love to be able to afford a Peloton, especially during a global pandemic where going to public gyms and trying to stay healthy no longer go hand-in-hand. But no matter how you spin it, the reality is most people don’t have $2000 lying around to afford such a luxury—even if they’re the ones who need it most. 
Written by: Muhammad Tariq — arts@theaggie.org

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