You heard me right. If you work at an exercise company, you should hire fat and disabled people if you want to succeed.
I remember having an email exchange with Jordan at Contently a few months back about why I would probably never purchase a Peloton bike.
Reason No. 1: Price.
Reason No. 2: I’m fat.
Even before the cringe-worthy, sexist holiday commercial, Peloton wasn’t on my list.
More importantly, I wasn’t on Peloton’s list.
But I should be.
Part of the brand’s “about us” story includes the following line.
“…we made it our mission to bring immersive and challenging workouts into people’s lives in a more accessible, affordable and efficient way.”Peloton Website
There are a few things that Peloton could do short- and long-term that would make it easier to reach consumers like me.
- Hire fat people to lead classes and star in commercials.
If you think that fat people can lead classes or ride bikes, you need to meet Jessica Diaz-Herrera at Curves with Moves, and yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley. You can be fat and athletic. (I’m looking at you, Jillian Michaels. Shaming fat people isn’t going to help.)
- Focus on connection instead of traditional fitness metrics like weight and strength.
As researcher Brené Brown writes, “We are hardwired for connection.”
There are numerous studies that show that one of the biggest predictors of health is loneliness, right up there with smoking. Peloton could focus on foster real community in their online settings, helping Pelotoners connect online and in the flesh.
- Launch Campaigns that Focus on Moving and Loving Your Body, Not Losing Weight.
Exercise is good for your body. Loving your body, also good for your body. As I mentioned before, focusing only on weight can lead to terrible outcomes for people, especially women of color. (Thanks for teaching me this, Wendy, Jess, and Rebecca. Listen to this podcast to learn more.)
Peloton could work with influencers like Megan, the Body Positive Panda, Lizzo and more to help bring movement and love into their brand.
- Hire Disabled and Chronically Ill People to Design and Lead
Stick with me on this.
Disabled and chronically ill people make up more than 20 percent of the U.S. population. Additionally, every person is likely to become disabled, either permanently (via accident) or temporarily (via getting older) at some point in their life.
As a population, we are a huge consumer base, but bikes that aren’t accessible and classes without video or audio captions aren’t going to make us buy Peloton products. If you bring disabled people on to your team to lead classes and design truly accessible experiences, you will increase your market share.
I’m sure there are some grannies and grandpas who would rock an exercise class lead by Curves with Moves in the retirement home. They just need some helpful accommodations to make it work.
- Find Ways to Make Products Affordable
Unfortunately, people who could benefit from shame-free movement and connection are probably the least likely to be able to afford it. Poor people are people, especially those who are disabled and/or not white, are disproportionately more likely to suffer from poor health comes. Finding ways to make products accessible in every sense of the word is key.
I highly doubt that Peloton will take my advice, but I hope you do.
What is your brand doing to ensure that your products are accessible for fat and disabled people?