There are people out there are who are fucking crazy about doing exercise and they are as alien to me as those weird translucent insects that live at the bottom of the ocean. These people love to wake up early to do exercise, they love to buy clothes specifically to do exercise in, and — most freakishly of all — they somehow gain a sort of fulfilment from doing exercise, even though it is a task that will never be finished and they will have to do it again and again until they are dead with nothing to show for it but a hot corpse.

Obviously, this is fine. I don’t have to understand someone’s lifestyle for it to be valid. These sick freaks are free to go to their CrossFit gyms as many times in a week as makes them happy. I give them my blessing, even though it creeps me the fuck out. I’ve never been able to articulate what about it that I find so unsettling, but Peloton has managed to create an ad that encapsulates it perfectly. Not on purpose, though.

From what I understand, Peloton is a company that makes high-end exercise bikes. I had the option of looking into this to find out more, but chose not to, because I do not care. What I care about is this commercial that they made for the holidays.

The plot is simple:

  • An affluent-seeming woman receives an exercise bike as a Christmas gift from her partner
  • She spends the year taking videos of herself having a horrible time using the exercise bike
  • It is revealed that these videos have been assembled into a sort of ‘home movie’ that she has screened for her partner

Generally speaking, ads suck. They are what they are, and what they are is ‘not good’. As written on paper, this sucks no more than your average ad. What makes this one outstandingly weird is that it is permeated by a quiet air of extreme desperation.

Our protagonist (or, as close as we get to having one) seems deeply committed to a transformation that is entirely invisible to the viewer. “A year ago, I didn’t realise how much this would change me,” she tells her partner, in the form of a video she makes him watch. The change, as we are to understand it, is that she goes from being a fit-looking woman to a fit-looking woman who also regularly uses an exercise bike. This would be fine, if it didn’t look like she was torturing herself to achieve this goal.

Even the moments of triumph shown in the video are celebrated with a sort of panicked relief, as if this is something being done to her that she is glad to have survived. In all likelihood, this force compelling her to do this to herself was intended to be internal — simply a desire for self-improvement — but it reads as if it is external, and also unstoppable. Is it her husband? Was buying her an exercise bike a passive-aggressive demand that she get more in-shape?

It exudes an energy that, frankly, disgusts and terrifies me.

You can watch the video below:

Peloton, why are you doing this to this poor woman.