- Very Serious: An Advice Column By Kelly Conaboy -Help: My Loved Ones Speak of Peloton Instructors As If They're Friends!!!
Kelly Conaboy is writing an advice column for Dipp readers. It's going to be very serious. So serious, in fact, we named it Very Serious: An Advice Column by Kelly Conaboy. Just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your most crucial conundrums and each week, Kelly will solve one lucky reader's biggest problem. You can read all of Kelly's excellent advice here.
Help, my loved ones talk about Peloton instructors like they’re their friends, how do I handle this?
Oh no, Laura.
Laura, I aim to do about 10 minutes of exercise per day. I often fail. I’m admitting this because I’m trying to put myself into the mindset of someone who has an exercise-based relationship with someone else — even if it is, as those critiquing rabid John Mulaney fans would say, a ”parasocial” one. I imagine it would be at least partially endorphin-fueled. People biking and getting endorphins while a hot person screams at them, or whatever it is Peleton instructors do. “YOU CAN DO IT! PUSH IT! RIDE THE BIKE! TODAY IS YOUR DAY!”
I suppose I can see how that might make you have a positive association with that person.
The exercise I do is primarily YouTube-based, and found after searching “10 minute easy cardio” or “10 minute cardio dance happy.” I generally dislike the YouTube exercise instructor ladies because I hate what they tell me to do (jumping jacks, etc.), but I dislike one of them in particular because at the end of the video she says, “Feel free to use this as a warmup for you workout, or to do the video again!” Okay … excuse me. This is my workout. You’re lucky I did it once. And I’m definitely not doing more after this. How about, “Good job finally doing 10 minutes of exercise for the first time this week!” How about, “Fantastic work, you completed the video you hated and only cheated during the burpees!”
That said, I don’t go around saying, “Workout bitch told me to ‘feel free to do the video again’ today, again” to my friends and loved ones, as if she is a real person in my life. I only say it to myself, privately, every single time I do the video.
Peloton instructors, from the little I know about them, seem a bit like cult leaders. That’s difficult to fight against. They have a lot of power over their followers. Plus, in this case, they’re hot. So that’s even more difficult.
My friend was at one point fostering a dog and a Peloton instructor took interest in potentially adopting him, and the information was told to me with great reverence. “A Peloton instructor. Think of the amazing life the dog could have!” At that point, and currently, I have a very little grasp on what this means, or how being a Peloton instructor would have affected the dog’s life at all. But I guess the dog would have had an easier time becoming an Instagram celebrity. And maybe the instructor would have been good at encouraging him to use the restroom outside? “TODAY IS YOUR DAY, PUPPY! YOU CAN DO IT!”
It is my guess that your loved ones think of their Peloton instructors as their friends because, during the more locked-down days of the pandemic, these hot instructors helped to fill a large friend-shaped hole in their psyche. I remember various articles reporting trends like this. (And I think of Al Roker as my friend for this reason.) But I think it’s time to break the habit.
How do you handle your loved ones talking about Peloton instructors as if they are their friends, Laura? I think you have a few options. One route is to take an interest. “We should invite Ally out to dinner sometime,” you can say. “I’d love to meet her.” Or you can say, “Cody sounds amazing, do you think you’d be able to introduce me?” “Mayla ... is she here in the room with us right now?” Having to speak aloud the fact that these people are, actually, pretty much just digital exercise avatars shouting encouragement at your loved ones may, in time, lessen their desire to bring them up in conversation.
Another option — and this one will require a bit more effort — is to seek out and befriend one of these people in reality. Find them at their favorite juice shops and ensure that they become a part of your life. When Tunde or Olivia is your actual friend, well, I think that would make it a bit more awkward for a loved one to bring a digital workout with them up in conversation.
And I bet you think the final option will be to accept this behavior with compassion, and hope your loved ones eventually get tired of bringing up the Peloton instructors. No, it’s not. The final option is: You make up a fake Peloton instructor and tell your loved ones that he is being very mean to you. “Gregorio is being absolutely horrible,” you can say. “He said I could never do the bicycle, no matter how hard I tried. He said this day belonged to others; the day will never belong to me. He said the sun has set on the prime of my life, and that I could do the bicycle all day and never make gains. Gregorio is so terrible to me. I am crying every day because of Gregorio.”
Eventually your loved ones will have to call a truce — you stop complaining about the horrible Gregorio, and they stop talking about whichever digital exercise person they like so much. It’s a different world, Laura. We have to adjust our methods.
Image: Peloton; Stick figure: Kelly Conaboy