Peloton’s CEO John Foley on the changing face of connected fitness

'What the category thought of as safety wasn’t good enough'

“Unprecedented” only begins to scratch the surface of this past year-and-a-half. Entire industries have been made and broken as the global population struggled to adapt to the largest pandemic in a century. Connected fitness falls firmly in the category that made it.

It’s fair to say that 2020 and 2021 have been transformative for home fitness. Years spent building products that let anyone work out at home paid massive dividends as people struggled to find alternative ways to exercise amid gym closures and a dramatic uptick in sedentary lifestyles.

No one roots for a pandemic, of course, but for companies like Peloton, the timing couldn’t have been better. Many who were on the fence about purchasing a pricey treadmill or stationary bike were pushed over the edge as their in-person options shrunk. In February, the company said its subscriber count rose to 1.67 million, up 134% from a year earlier.

But the past few years haven’t been all smooth sailing for the company. From increased competition and early supply chain struggles to a treadmill recall that shook up the industry, there have been several recent roadblocks on the company’s climb.

Peloton CEO John Foley had initially pushed back on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports, but ultimately agreed to recall its Tread+ in May, following reports of 70 injuries, including the death of a six-year-old.

At TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 this week, Foley — joined by Peloton chief content officer Jennifer Cotter — discussed broader safety issues with the category, noting that the unfortunate circumstances behind the recall have forced the company to take a closer look at product safety.