How My Wife Told Me I was Fat – Secrets to Content and Engagement Strategy (and Marriage)

My wife called me fat last summer. Looked me right in the eye and said, “You’re fat.”

A little backstory.

I once (pre Pandemic) traveled often, about ½ the time. My health was important to me. I committed to exercising on the road. I tried to eat healthier. In addition, I made no effort to drink less. In fact, I tried to drink more.

During visits home I frequented my health club which, BTW had not 1, not 2 but three different bars. It also has a wide variety of what could be characterized as exercise equipment. Stuff like treadmills, weights, and the like. It also had a nice sauna.

I thought I had a reasonably good routine worked out and wouldn’t have called myself “out of shape”.

During the pandemic I worked to maintain my workout schedule. With my health club unavailable, I looked at exercise apps. I ran outside once the weather turned. Experimented with different things from yoga to bodyweight workouts.

In essence, in my mind, I was doing just fine.

Now, back to the front story.

In all honesty, my wife didn’t just “call me fat”. That would be me taking creative license, or in the parlance of our times, a “lie”.

No. What she did was buy “us” a Peloton Bike in July and encouraged me to try it. Nice try honey, I can read the between the lines.

You see the Peloton Girl of Super Bowl advertising fame taught us an important lesson. When you give someone or encourage someone to workout and be healthier, you are really body shaming them. Calling. Them. Fat.

It got so bad for Peloton Girl that she happily, tragically, turned to the bottle, as shown in this documentary”. A short film supported by none other than Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds, an avowed Canadian. #aviationgin #ryanreynolds #sponsorship

Now, all I care about is my wife’s happiness. Caring about her happiness means I often must care about her opinion. You see, Martha is disturbingly intelligent and insightful. This creates a problem for me. She is nearly always correct.

Now, when I travel this is easy to navigate, I say, “yes honey” and do what I want. But trapped safe at home during the Pandemic, I had no such escape.

So, I looked in the mirror and honestly saw what I’d become. A reasonably in shape 50-something.

The result? One day, ashamed, in our basement workout area, I took my first Peloton ride.

Now, a little over one year later. Here is the result.

440 total workouts in about 13 months.

  • 152 cycling workouts
  • 146 strength workouts
  • 65 stretching workouts
  • 38 running workouts
  • 34 yoga classes
  • 3 mediation classes
  • 2 walking classes (yeah, not sure how those got in there either)

Today, I’m at nearly my high school weight and I can honestly say my wife has never been married to less of a man.

Here is a list of all the people who specifically noted I was thinner.

  • Everyone who knew me before the Pandemic and who I have seen in person in 2021.

I just got back from my annual physical and my doctor said stuff like the following.

“Best HDL I’ve ever seen.”. It was 117.

“Your VO2 max is better than an 18-year-old.”.

“Roll over on your side, you’re going to feel a little pressure.”.

So how did Peloton trick me? That’s how we get to probably the most successful content strategy I’ve seen.

You see, Peloton is not about the bike, or exercise, or all the various things you can do. It’s about engagement.

Peloton has created a relevant, customizable, and gamified way to create my own experience.

Relevance – I decide what is relevant to me at any given time.

Some days you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t. The same is for exercise. Some days you are energized. Some days, you’re tired.

If you do the same workout all the time, you end up doing the same things regardless of your mood, energy, time, etc. It get’s boring. It’s hard to stay motivated.

With Peloton I can customize my experience to my needs at any given moment. This helps me continue exercising, even when I don’t feel like it.

If time is short, I do a 20-minute bike ride. If I’m stiff and sore, I do a 15-minute yoga session. If I’m in HE MAN BEAST MODE, I do a combination of workouts from body weight to outdoor runs.

At your association, consider all the different people you serve and how their needs change over time. Consider how you create a strategy that allows them to customize their experience to align with those changing needs.

Customization – I can define my experience.

You saw the earlier stats. I’ve done running, walking, yoga, body weight exercises, weight exercises, meditation, etc. I’ve used the bike, sure, but most of my workouts are done on the app with my bike a long ways away.

I can customize my workout by the following.

  • Type (running, biking, etc.)
  • Length (5 to 60 or more minutes)
  • Instructor (from hot to crazy hot)
  • Difficulty (from wuss to BEAST MODE)
  • Class type
  • Music
  • I can add subtitles if I want to pretend I’m exercising in Italy.
  • Finally, I can “stack” my workouts to combine them.

In essence, my experience is completely within my control so that I can dial it in based on my needs.

Now imagine if your association allowed a member to customize their engagement based on their needs. In essence, to determine their engagement pathway and to modify the pathway if their needs changed.

More and More Dynamic Content – I have a huge number of choices that constantly change.

There is always something new on Peloton. A ride based on the music of a new artist. A Women’s Run. A series designed to improve my core (that’s the middle of your body you lazy turds).

This new content creates constantly changing pathways for engagement. It encourages me to try something I might not do because I want to listen to Bollywood music, for example.

In essence, the large amount of and changing nature of the content keeps me interested in maintaining my engagement.

Consider your association’s own portfolio of content or experiences. How do you refresh it? How do you combine it with other forms, for example a white paper provided as part of a webinar?

For successful strategy you must not only create a critical mass of content, but you must also put in place business process to continually update and recombine content with other relevant information.

Gamification – I can pick what incentivizes me.

Everyone is motivated by different things. In Peloton, they give you a wide variety of information so you can determine on your own how best to be your best.

  • Working for a PR (personal record)? Peloton tracks you against your previous workouts.
  • Competitive? Peloton allows you to compare to others in real time, over time, by demographic, etc.
  • Like being part of a community? Peloton encourages you to reach out, allowing you to “high five” other people in a class and the instructors read out messages they’ve received or congratulate people participating who hit milestones.
  • Just like music? Turn off the instructor’s yammering.

Consider your own strategy. How does your association create incentives for engagement? How do you reward me, as a member for giving you my time, money and energy? Does a thirty-year member get anything different for their dues than a 1st year member? Does someone who’s been to your meeting 10 straight years get thrown into the same hotel room scrum as a first-time attendee?

Cooldown talk.

Every Peloton session ends with a brief cooldown period. It’s a time to relax and pat yourself on the back kinda stuff. Here’s my version.

Take a deep breath, close your eyes and consider the following (after you open your eyes again).

Peloton has not created anything new. You heard me correctly. Let’s repeat for our slower readers. Peloton. Has. Not. Created. Anything. New.

There have been exercise programs for years. They didn’t invent the exercise bike. They didn’t invent instructor lead classes.

What they have done is connect the dots between all these different elements. It’s sum of those dots, the entirety of the experience that has resulted in Peloton having a global reach and a market cap of $29.3 Billion as of today.

Every association has the same tools. They have the same programs, services, etc. The difference between which associations will be successful in the long term instead of mediocre is how well you and your leadership put the pieces of your association puzzle together.

Connect the dots.

Finally, and the constant message from every Peloton instructor is this. You. Can. Do. It.

They are relentless positive.

You can make these changes, you have the competencies and the tools.

Let’s get to work.

Just some thoughts from the bike. I mean from my seat at the bar.