Inside the Peloton Community Dedicated to Black Women
Home to more than 7,000 members worldwide, this at-home cycling group is all about sisterhood and accountability
In 2017, Courtney Snowden was pregnant with her younger son and thought she’d never see the inside of a gym again. A single mom by choice, she was juggling a demanding job as a deputy mayor for the District of Columbia and was unsure how a regular workout routine would fit into her already hectic schedule.
Today, her boys are three and 11, and Snowden is the founder of one of the most popular home exercise cycling groups you may have never heard of, #BlackGirlMagic: The Peloton Edition. #BGM is “a space that is for us, by us, and about us in celebration of our fitness journeys on and off the bike,” according to the official Facebook group description.
Snowden started #BGM in February 2018 after asking members of the Official Peloton Members Facebook group, which has more than 300,000 members, for hair tips.
“Of course, the answers I got were laughable,” she says. “[The responses were] ‘“I use dry shampoo,’ or ‘I just put mine in a ponytail.” A couple of Black women chimed in, and I got a lot of messages with product recommendations.”
The experience left Snowden with a desire for a workout community that mirrored her experiences as a Black woman on a fitness journey. Another reason for starting her own group, Snowden explains, were some of the racist comments she’d seen from other members.
“I’d made the choice a few years ago that I wasn’t welcoming that in my life anymore, and I’m not taking responsibility for helping people to do better,” she says.
“I think if I wouldn’t have found this group, my bike would probably be hidden underneath a pile of clothes.”
And thus, a Facebook group was born. First, Snowden contacted the Black women who’d previously messaged her. After expanding the group to other Black women, #BGM is home to four moderators and more than 7,000 members worldwide — a number that has steadily increased since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the third fiscal quarter ending March 31, Peloton reported that sales had increased 66% from last year and had earned $524.6 million in revenue, largely due to an increase in bike purchases as gyms closed amid the health crisis.
Tiara Patton-Jackson of New York City was part of the uptick. She started taking spin classes at her local gym once a week in 2016. By 2018, she was up to three classes a week, in addition to strength training classes.
“There’s just something about the music and energy of a class,” Patton-Jackson says. “I love classes. They get me going and make me feel good.”
With gym closures across the country this year, Patton-Jackson missed that energy. After being laid off from her job as an accountant in March and unsure when her gym would reopen, she purchased a Peloton bike in full to avoid having a monthly bill from the fitness brand.
The sticker shock is undeniable. A Peloton bike starts at $2,245, which includes assembly, delivery, and a limited one-year warranty. From there, riders can add accessories, such as the specially designed shoes to clip into the bike pedals, weights to use for upper-body workouts on the bike, headphones, heart rate monitor, and a mat. On top of that, the All-Access membership, which includes thousands of spin, strength training, walking/running, cardio, meditation, and yoga classes, is $39 per month.
While Black-owned spin studios have been popping up across the country — from KTX Fitness in Los Angeles to Cycle Therapy in Chicago to Spiked Spin in Brooklyn — they aren’t as readily available outside of major cities. And at an average $20 per class in some cities, costs can add up quickly.
For Teresia Greer of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the investment in a Peloton bike proved to be worth it. Before converting to Peloton, she’d frequent boutique gyms and drive 25 minutes for other group workout classes.
“There came a point where I realized I was spending so much money and time in search of a community fitness environment coupled with my favorite types of workout,” Greer says. “When you add up how much you spend on classes, gas, personal training, gym memberships, and random online fitness classes, you will most likely find that you’ve been spending more money on membership and equipment that is not as accessible and not as comprehensive as Peloton. The caliber and diversity of classes is unmatched. This is an investment that will pay for itself, and all you have to do is roll out of bed and press ‘play.’”
During a time when there’s so much unrest, members have found solace in the group.
“Right now, in particular, has been more daunting than any other time since the murder of George Floyd,” Snowden says. “As Black women, we experience this on a regular basis. We could name a number of people who have been murdered by the police or vigilantes. There is something powerful about this space and how we hold space for each other. What I’m most proud of is how respectful we are of one another and how protective of the space we are.”
“There is something powerful about a group of women coming together organized around their own self-care and fitness journeys.”
While gyms begin to reopen across the country, many Black women are sticking to their at-home Peloton routine. In addition to sisterhood and solidarity, Greer has also found the #BlackGirlMagic group to be an effective accountability group, with members often talking about chasing each other on the leaderboard — the digital dashboard that tracks helpful metrics, such as calories burned and how you rank against other Peloton members.
“Before joining this group, I never used Facebook. Since joining, I find myself communicating with members of the group on a daily basis,” she shares. “The accountability that this group brings pushes me like we are all riding in the same room together. I hate to admit it, but I think if I wouldn’t have found this group, my bike would probably be hidden underneath a pile of clothes.”
It’s that community and competition aspect that keeps riders coming back for more.
“There is something powerful about a group of women coming together organized around their own self-care and fitness journeys,” Snowden says. “What’s even more fascinating is that we’re all incredibly high performers in every single field that we’re in. We’ve got nurses, lawyers, and law professors. There’s a mayor in the group. It’s remarkable the diversity of excellence that’s in the group. That wasn’t what I intended to create, but I’m so grateful for this community of women. There’s a remarkable quality of support and engagement, and what’s most exciting to me is the very deep care we have for one another.”