While the sketches in any given episode of Saturday Night Live tend to vary wildly in quality, with most jokes overstaying their welcome by at least a few seconds, the show has a nice unbroken stint when it comes to its pitch-perfect parodies of fitness culture. From the SoulCycle class where each new instructor is more unhinged than the last, to the Barry’s Bootcamp where a hench Jennifer Lopez gets intense with her clients, there’s a specificity to the scenes that makes the otherwise absurd jokes feel surprisingly real.
The latest fitness brand to get the SNL treatment is Peloton, and frankly, it feels weird that we’ve had to wait this long to see Kate McKinnon and co. send up the the popular exercise bike company.
The premise is simple enough: we all know that Peloton’s trainers are experts at delivering motivational monologues which help keep riders going. But what if they were… well, kind of assholes? “Pelotaunt” trainers (played by Kate McKinnon, Bowen Yang, and Heidi Gardner) use the power of negative reinforcement tactics, including passive aggression, relentless criticism, condescension and gaslighting, to get results.
And while that kind of approach would probably end up getting an instructor fired in real life, in the sketch it works—at least, on the stubborn individuals who claim to “know themselves” so well they’re above the regular kind of encouragement.
“I feel mentally broken down,” says Beck Bennet, “but hey! I can see my abs!”
Of course, this is not the first time Peloton bikes and their overly eager coaches have been satirized in pop culture. In December 2019, the brand’s holiday ad went down like a lead balloon, with its storyline of a woman keenly using her exercise bike to prove to her husband just how much she likes it interpreted by many as having a sexist message. Within days of the ad airing, the company’s value swiftly plummeted.
The actors in the commercial promptly distanced themselves from the campaign, and Monica Ruiz, who played the viral “Peloton wife,” went on to star in a parody commercial for Aviation Gin in which her character was seen getting over the whole ordeal with her friends.
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