The biggest problem for Peloton’s cameo in the reboot of “Sex and the City” may not be the moment when Mr. Big drops dead of a heart attack after a 45-minute ride, a plot twist so startling and damaging to the brand that Peloton’s stock plummeted 11 percent overnight after the pilot episode premiered.
Rather, it is the scene in Episode 2 of “And Just Like That,” when Carrie is at home getting ready for Big’s funeral. The Peloton bike sits awkwardly in the passageway between the primary bathroom and dressing area, unused and already collecting dust.
The pandemic status symbol, which customers once waited two months to get their hands on, may soon become the modern equivalent of the 1990s NordicTrack: a high-priced piece of exercise equipment that becomes a glorified clothing rack, cluttering up a home until it is sold or dispatched to the curb.
Signs of its cultural downfall are hard to ignore. Sales of Peloton’s stationary bikes and treadmills fell 17 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2021, and the online resale market is flooded with used bikes selling at a discount.
Peloton’s appearance as an ill-fated plot device certainly doesn’t help. This past weekend, one seller posted an Instagram story showing his being bike carted off with the good-riddance caption, “And Just Like That …”
(Also this past weekend, Peloton responded to the negative publicity with a cheeky ad starring Chris Noth, the actor who plays Mr. Big, relaxing in front of a fire with his character’s favorite Peloton instructor. “And just like that … he’s alive,” the company wrote on its Twitter account.)
Like thousands of professionals during the early days of the pandemic, Laura and Charlie Weisman, a couple who live in Downtown Brooklyn, bought a Peloton when their gym, Chelsea Piers Fitness, closed during the lockdowns.
“We needed an outlet to work out,” said Ms. Weisman, 31, a new business executive at a digital marketing agency. She paid $1,895 for the original model, plus another $250 for the accessories package (shoes, weights, earbuds, heart rate monitor) and $39 for monthly access to online classes. Ms. Weisman recalled a conversation with her father, who told her the bike would gather dust a year from now. “I said, ‘No way, this is the coolest thing. It will last forever.’”
But sure enough, “as soon as we were vaccinated” and the gyms reopened, she said, the couple stopped using their Peloton. “It doesn’t feel like it’s necessary anymore,” she added.
The ‘Sex and the City’ Universe
The sprawling franchise revolutionized how women were portrayed on the screen. And the show isn’t over yet.
- A New Series: Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte return for another strut down the premium cable runway in “And Just Like That,” streaming on HBO.
- Off Broadway: Candace Bushnell, whose writing gave birth to the “Sex and the City” universe, stars in her one-woman show based on her life.
- In Carrie’s Footsteps: “Sex and the City” painted a seductive vision of Manhattan, inspiring many young women to move to the city.
- The Origins: For the show’s 20th anniversary in 2018, Bushnell shared how a collection of essays turned into a pathbreaking series.
Two weeks ago, the Weismans posted it on Facebook Marketplace, initially asking $1,350 for the bike, plus the Peloton-branded accessories. When no one bit, they lowered the price to $1,200; it sold last weekend to a woman who bought it for her teenage daughter.
While a quick sale maysuggest that Pelotons are holding their value, it is worth noting that many were bought at the height of the pandemic, before the company slashed its prices. The base model, which originally retailed for $2,295, now sells for $1,495. (The Bike+, which was introduced in 2020 and has a screen that swivels and can be used for yoga and strength training, sells for $2,495.)
Now, those base models are being resold on sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and eBay, with some selling below $1,000, according to recent searches.
“We recently downsized our apartment and the Peloton no longer fits,” reads one typical ad on Craigslist in Brooklyn. The seller is asking $800 for a Peloton bike and two pairs of cycling shoes. “Has probably been ridden 10 times.”
Kisha Anderer, 42, a stay-at-home mother in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, hopes to get $1,500 or $1,600 for her Peloton bike, but admitted, “I wish I would have sold it over the pandemic,” when the bikes were as hard to find as toilet paper.
Ms. Anderer received her bike as a birthday gift from her husband in 2017, and estimates she used it eight to 20 times a month at first. But after an unrelated neck injury two years ago, it has only cluttered up her TV room.
“My husband is on me — he asks me every month, are we getting rid of this thing or not?” Ms. Anderer said. “I’m just dragging my feet because it seems like a cumbersome thing to do. It’s a heavy piece of equipment. It would take a man with a van and three people to get this thing out of my house.”
One striking thing about the secondhand ads is how so many bikes are described as “like new” or “barely used” — a sales tactic, perhaps, but perhaps not. Jeffery Rum, 42, who lives in Potomac, Md., and owns a marketing agency, said he has used his Peloton “less than 30” times since buying it in 2019. He listed it on Facebook Marketplace for $1,200 (mat included).
“The Peloton was going to complement the workouts I was doing during the week,” with his trainer, Mr. Rum added. Instead, the bike took up residence in his home office, so he had to look at it everyday, sitting there as a nonfunctioning object. “It certainly became a sculpture,” Mr. Rum said with a laugh.
Mr. Rum said he has had several “nibbles” from buyers offering as little as $750 and $900. He’s not ready to sell at that price yet.
The Peloton reminded him of another piece of exercise equipment that his father bought from an infomercial in the early ’90s, when he was still living at home. “It was called the Ab Roller,” Mr. Rum said.
And what became of it?
It ended up in the laundry room, he said: “It was something that the clothes got folded on.”