NEW YORK: Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts made her debut as a yoga and meditation instructor on Peloton’s platform the day after George Floyd was murdered.
She immediately launched Peloton’s Breathe In, Speak Up series, a meditation class that touches on the importance of connection, community and unity.
During a panel at PRWeek’s virtual PRDecoded conference on Thursday, Jackson Roberts said that she was hired for a purpose just like this, “to show up and speak up in moments of trauma and moments of unrest and uncertainty.”
She referred to her debut as an “introduction in the most unapologetic way.”
Around the same time, Peloton took a stand to commit to being an anti-racist organization through the inception of its four-year, $100 million Peloton Pledge. The company is aiming to fight racial injustice outside and inside the company, explained another panelist, Peloton SVP of global communications Jessica Kleiman.
“We started with our own team members, raising the wage for hourly workers in the field – such as the member support team, sales team and people delivering the equipment – to $19 per hour, and started to build out internal mobility and learning development programs for these team members who might want to move into a managerial position,” she said. “We also partnered with nonprofits that focus on anti-racism.”
Peloton celebrated and welcomed diversity and inclusion even before Floyd’s murder. That has shown up with internal programming for employees, celebrated cultural moments through class collections and apparel series for Black History Month, pride and Hispanic Heritage Month.
“But we had not, until that moment, publicly put our stake in the ground as a brand that was committed to social issues,” Kleiman said. “That was a pivotal moment for us.”
She added that brands have to be careful when taking a stand, as they don’t want to come across as being performative. Peloton “picks and chooses” moments it truly believes in to speak up.
“Some people might think we are not doing enough,” said Kleiman. “While others just want to get on the bike or Tread and have fun and listen to pop music and have a release and they don’t necessarily want to hear someone’s voice on what’s happening in the world. And that’s OK, too, and it’s why we have a library of classes they can choose from.”
Peloton speaks up because it feels like it has a duty as a company that creates content and streams it directly into people’s homes.
“We have a relationship with [consumers] so we feel we can share our thoughts on things that we feel are important, and if they want to tune it out that’s their prerogative,” said Kleiman.
Peloton sells connected exercise bikes, treadmills and related fitness subscriptions. At the end of 2020, it had more than 4.4 million total members and a 12-month retention rate of 92%. A major part of the company’s success is that its instructors, such as Jackson Roberts, resonate with Peloton’s community.
“Our instructors are allowed to be authentic; they are not scripted, they speak from the heart, choose their own music, do their own class plans and really show up,” said Kleiman. “That comes through loud and clear.”