TCO 253 | Peloton Philanthropy

253: Ben Alldis’ Cancer Battle plus our interview with Josh Vernon

TCO 253 | Peloton Philanthropy


  • John Mills joins us to discuss the launch of Peloton Guide.
  • Ben Alldis opens up about his cancer journey.
  • Christine D’Ercole talks to about what love looks like.
  • Jeffrey McEachern has a special Spotify playlist.
  • We have a round-up of Guide reviews from Wired, Wall Street Journal, CNET, and more.
  • Engadget sings the praises of Lanebreak.
  • Select Marriott hotels now offer in-room Pelotons.
  • John Foley falls off of the Forbes list of billionaires.
  • Apple Fitness releases a post-partum workout program.
  • There are new outdoor runs and Yoga classes from Germany.
  • Peloton released some classes for the Grammy’s but not really. (wink, wink)
  • Feel Good Fam has new merch from Luxe And Hazel.
All this plus our interview with Josh Vernon!

Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


Ben Alldis’ Cancer Battle plus our interview with Josh Vernon

Are you ready for a big trip or that’s not a big trip? People are like, “Are you ever at home?”

First of all, I am ready. Second of all, it was like this all the time before the pandemic. Apparently, we’re just back to that. This is our life now where it’s go, go, go nonstop.

We’re doing fun things.

I’m not complaining. I mean, I get used to it.

It’s funny because when COVID hit, everything went from 60 to 0.

It felt amazing. I’m not going to lie. It was sad because I hated missing out on things, but it was also nice to rest.

Now, things are firing back up and it’s not the false start like last time. It seems like we’re doing this. We have tickets and not to brag, we’re going to Salina, Kansas.

Look out, Kansas. Here we come.

We’re going to go see a band that you’ve probably never heard of called Del Amitri. I’m a big fan and they haven’t played in the States in 30 years. They are from Wales. They’re a big deal over there. They’re not such a big deal over here. The fact that they’re even bothering to come to America is unusual and surprising. I figured this is probably the only time left that I’ll get to see them and they’re not coming to St. Louis so we’re trucking over to Salina, Kansas. That’s what we have in store.

I’ll be working on the road. It would be an interesting little experiment.

We’re getting our cooler all ready for our MetPro approved meals, so we can still be dialed in and good since we’re driving.

We have a hotel that’s got a refrigerator and it’s got a microwave. We’re doing all the tips and tricks that I tell people every day. It’s my full-time job.

We’re doing them as well.

Yes, we are. We need to, after that cruise, Tom.

If you were your own coach, you would have scolded yourself.

I would have, although I’ve been nice to everybody who hasn’t.

You wouldn’t have scolded because you’re allowed to go have fun.

Live your life.

What pray tell do you have in store for people?

It’s the Guide. That’s what’s in store. There’s a lot of interesting information we’ve got about other things that are going on. Instructors, where they’ve been. We’re going to touch on Ben Alldis and what’s going on. We’ve got some other little key details but honestly, it’s a quiet week. We’re going to be in and we’re going to be out. Just so you guys know, there’s no Dr. Jenn and there’s no MetPro segments for this episode.

It’s going to be like 2017.

You guys aren’t even going to know what to do. You’re going to be done and you’re going to be like, “What? That was all?”

“Why is the episode only 45 minutes?”

Don’t worry, we’ll fill it.

That’s true. We’re good at that.

We have our awesome interview with Josh Vernon. That is a worthy cause that he is talking about. They had a cool story that they raised a bunch of money. You definitely want to stay tuned and read about that too.

Before we get to all that, shameless plugs, don’t forget we’re available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, iHeart. Wherever you find a podcast, you can find us. While you’re there, be sure and follow us so you never miss an episode. Maybe leave us a review if you would be so kind. You can also find us on Facebook, While you’re there, like the page and join the group. Sign up for our newsletter at Every week you get an email in a nice digestible format with all the links and stuff that we talk about throughout the episode. This is a good week for that one because there are so many different articles and reviews about the Guide. I don’t think we’re going to sit there and go through each one by one because it would be a snooze.

We like to keep things moving.

If you want to get a collection of all the reviews to comb through them on your own if you’re on the fence, that would be a good thing to join the mailing list for. Finally, if listening to us isn’t enough and you want to gaze into our eyes, our lipid pools of water on our faces, you can do that at There’s all that, let’s dig in. Shall we?

We shall.

Joining us once again is John Mills. How’s it going, John?

How’s it going?

Look at that energy. Are you energized by the Guide release? Is that where the energy is coming from? He’s looking around like, “That’s not true.”

It’s great but it’s not what I expected. There are many other products in the space that do many things that I got to wonder about. I get that for people new to strength and what Peloton potentially is going after, maybe it’s a good thing, but it wasn’t what I expected.

It’s fair to point out, at least from what I’m hearing, that this product is not designed to compete with Tonal. It’s more competing with the Mirror and maybe Tempo. I guess Tempo moved specifically. From a standpoint of cost, they have accomplished that and checked that box. I haven’t gotten to try it yet. Get this. Peloton sent me a note the other day. They’re sending me a Guide. That has never happened.

They never sent you anything. I guess one time when they were sending out a bunch of free care packages or something that went to thousands of people. To show you how it works with Peloton, when we hosted homecoming with John Foley, we paid for our tickets. They’ve invited us to do it, then there was this moment where they were like, “You got tickets though, right? Okay, then you can do it.”

You’re bringing your own drinks too.

We did get drinks. Everybody got drinks. They’ve been very supportive of us always. They’ve always gotten us instructor interviews and things like that. I don’t mean to look for a gift and wear them up, but they’ve never sent us product. Who knows how long it will take to get here because we are in the Midwest, so it could be a wait. I am intrigued to try it because I want to see for myself how the interface works and how it all works. They would have gotten me either way because apparently, my trigger word is exclusive content. You tell me that I am not going to be held to try this particular class for 45 days, I’ll buy it. I got to know what it is. I can’t be left out.

There are some slick things that they’ve added in there. The exclusive content thing is bingo right on it. That’s going to hit a lot of people. A lot of existing members are going to be flooding for that. That’s number one. Number two, $295, including your membership, you’re going to get a large percentage of folks that don’t buy just because it’s $295.

Everything I’m hearing is that the Guide is going to be necessary for that platform device that’s coming out and other things that I’m hearing in the roadmap. You got to have the Guide. For $295, how can you say no?

I’m hearing these rumors about yoga usage and Pilates usage, and then you got to start extrapolating from that. What other categories are there where they might be able to utilize this? On top of that, I know it’s not true for form correction and rep counting, but I’m hearing these rumors like that may be coming. All that stuff sounds like it might be more positive.

What I’m hearing from people is the rep counting is coming, but the form correction is not coming. That does not exist. It’s not in the roadmap. It’s not happening.

Do you know if you have to have their weights for rep counting or will the “little looking at you thing” know?

The looking at you thing will know. That’s what I’m hearing.

I would assume so because I got to assume that the activity tracker is doing some form of that already. I would assume that’s already happening and eventually, it will be true rep counting. I’m with you. In reading about it now, I see more future positives in the direction of it than I originally thought. I probably already mentioned it, but that body activity thing or the body activity tracker that’s in the app shows you the areas of your body.

We heard about that a couple of weeks ago. We posted some images that came out early. They were probably for people testing it that probably weren’t supposed to share it but they did. The interesting thing I believe other companies already use that. I know Tonal does because we call that the little guy front and back. The little guy front and back over in Tonal is green. The differentiator for Peloton is that they tell you the breakdown percentage of which muscles are being worked, which the Tonal one doesn’t do that. If you click on it, it will tell you which exercises were included, but it doesn’t say percentage-wise. That’s neat and different.

The other thing that people are super excited about, and I have heard so much buzz about this, is that all of the different moves are broken down in the class plan now. People are so stoked about that. When it comes to strength training, I get why this is important. I don’t care about the bike. I’ll get on a bike and do whatever they tell me to do because it’s all the same, but when it comes to strength, you want to know. Maybe it’s going to be doing some move that you can’t do. It’s good to know ahead of time what you’re getting into. I do like that they have this breakdown and the video you see on the screen if you’re watching. It shows you how to do each move.

Tonal had been doing that for a long time.

Danielle sent that to me or put it in the group. She showed that where you click on it and you see the short clip of what that movement is. I liked that too.

Those are good things. They’re things that people weren’t expecting. I find it fascinating that people are more excited about little guy front and back and the move breakdown than they are about the actual Guide.

That makes sense to me. Not the little guy front and back, but it all adds up, the content, the app, the software-based stuff, the niche, the stuff they’ve been good at. That makes sense. That’s where people would be like, “That’s cool.” That adds up.

Because $295 is pretty reasonable, a lot of people are going to go like, “That’s not much. Go ahead. I’ll roll the dice on it.” I wonder if you’ll see a lot of app users finally upgrading that if they’re already taken those classes on their phones. They’re like, “I can swing $300,” and that’ll be their entry points.

The interesting thing there is if you don’t have an existing Peloton product, you can get the Guide and the membership for $24 a month. That’s an introductory price. Next year, it’s going to go up to $36 a month. Right now, if you only want the Guide, you’re better off just getting the Guide.

This could be a good way for people to dip their toes in the water. Another aspect that maybe people aren’t factoring in is it’s portable. If you travel, you can grab your Guide and go. This is apropos of nothing just because it’s on our screen, but sissy squat. Are we still saying that?

I feel like I need to click on that but it’s a screenshot. I don’t know what a tall kneeling sissy squat is. Is that the one where you do the overhead press?

I have a sissy squat machine. I only know it from that perspective. The machine has your calves, something behind where your Achilles tendon is and something in the front, keeping it stable. There’s a little bridge underneath your knees so that you can squat, but you have the support of your lower leg. You’re squatting backwards but going down back up. Your lower leg is straight. I know that machine, but I don’t know what that means from a stand-alone position.

Especially when it says it’s a kneeling one. I’m so confused. Maybe we should look up the video. People at home are yelling at us.

There are so many people in Massachusetts riding the Peloton bike, and we can start with a community here. Share on X

I still think that maybe it needs a new name. I just had an email come through that Peloton is taking the Guide back. They also said they’re going to take your Tread and Bike too. Peloton was so appalled with the last segment. They actually emailed to say that they’re giving us a Tempo and three Echelons. Is there more Guide stuff to talk about?

Do we want to talk about any of the reviews?

They haven’t seen any of the reviews.

The Wall Street Journal did one and Engadget did one.

From what I’ve seen so far, if you like Peloton and you’re like, “What’s up with this Mirror,” the Guide is enough to tip you to like team Peloton. You’ll be like, “Close enough.” If you’re interested in the stuff that the Mirror or the Tempo offers you, you can look at the Guide and go, “I can add a bike or a tread later if I don’t want to spend that much money right now, or I don’t have to choose between a bike and a Mirror. I can do the bike and add the Guide and not pay extra and it’s close enough.” I think it’s enough. If anybody does research, I don’t think it’s enough to compete against Tonal. With all the other stuff, absolutely.

Remember that article that I was talking about months ago where the rider was hugely pro-Tonal, but she spoke to the Tonal like it was just for heavy weightlifting and not for that introductory part. She spoke to it like you were into weightlifting. I thought, “That isn’t quite right.” I only talk about that because I posted in my group about the Guide and whether or not that was for folks that are well-established in a weight training regiment. I wasn’t sure. It was a question. I always do ask all these questions but no answers.

A guy comes out there and he thought that the Guide was very aligned with Peloton’s historical strategy. He felt like when the bike came out, people weren’t all on bikes at home all the time. Peloton brought people into that space. They weren’t avid cyclists. These were people that became indoor cyclists because Peloton was the introduction to it. He saw the Guide as that. He was like, “This is going to introduce people to weight training. It’s a perfect vehicle to do that. It is their pattern.” That’s how he saw it.

We come at it from a different angle because we are always talking about the different items that are already out there. We already know about Tonal, Mirror and Tempo. We’re coming at it from a different angle, but that is a good point. There are a lot of people who have been riding the bikes since they got the bike and that’s all they’ve been doing, which is great. That’s awesome, but if you want a well-rounded program of fitness, you’ve got to include strength somehow.

We talk about this on the Superset a lot, but there are a lot of people that mistakenly fear weightlifting because they think that they’ll get big. The Guide might thread that needle for them. Even though they’re not right, they’ll see it and go, “I won’t get jacked. I’ll just get toned.” There probably are people that’ll look at that and go, “That’s weightlifting I can get behind because I don’t feel like I’m going to come out of this looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

I definitely think there’s a market here for existing Peloton users mostly. I don’t think this is going to bring a lot of people that are new to Peloton. Tom, you were saying you feel like this would be good for app users. I could see that but it’s for people who are already utilizing Peloton in some way. I don’t see this bringing brand new people to the Peloton platform.

I would agree with that, but it might be a good entry point for people to go from the app into an equipment level Peloton membership.

I’m right with you on that. From what I’ve been seeing, there is a whole bunch of existing Peloton members that are talking about buying this thing.

It’s because they use the words exclusive content. That got us. I heard there’s going to be a Tunde arms program coming.

All you have to say is Tunde arms and it sold 50,000 units right there. That’s going to be interesting if we end up finding out that they are actually getting new subs off of this. What does that look like? That’s what I want to know, but we’re not going to know that until they give us the numbers for fiscal Q4. That’s when we’ll know about that.

It will also be interesting because our next earnings call is on May 4th. That’s when it’s scheduled right now. We’ll be hearing the next earnings call, but that will happen before homecoming. That will happen before the rower drops. All we’re going to know is very early preliminary. The demand from sending out the information a couple of months ago is all we’re going to know.

The fiscal Q2 ended at the end of March. It wasn’t even out yet. They won’t have anything for us in May. It won’t be until August that we’ll hear any real information. I’m interested and we’ll see that specifically. What subs are they getting from it?

One thing that is different about this drop than they’ve ever done before on a piece of equipment is its shipping right away. Nobody has to wait. The Tread+ took months. I pre-ordered that thing and it took me a year. Do you remember that?

I remember you complained about it.

I was in Vegas when they displayed it. I ordered the tread from the floor of CES. I didn’t get mine for nine months. I’m sitting there talking to John Foley ordering it. Not that I’m complaining. I love that Tread+. It is awesome.

John, thank you very much for joining us. Until next week, where can people find you?

They can find me on my Facebook page or group, Run, Lift and Live. They can find me on Instagram @RunLiftAndLive. They can find me on TikTok, Run, Lift and Live, or they can find me at

Thank you so much.

We had an interesting post from Ben Alldis.

He talked about having an injury or illness and how debilitating it can be. He then casually mentioned, “Back in 2018, I was diagnosed with skin cancer.” He talks about how he had to take some time to break from working out. It was difficult for him physically and mentally to take that break. He shared a photo that was taken a couple of weeks after he had been given the all-clear.

Hopefully, he has sunscreen on. It’s funny because he’s shirtless outdoors and I’m like, “You better have sunscreen on there.”

I feel like he did because he talks about that he’s filled with gratitude to be able to be moving his body again in this picture. and that this was an epiphany moment. From this day, he made a promise to himself, never again shall he take his fully functioning body for granted and never take his health for granted, and do something each day to communicate to his body. You want to take care of it. I feel like he is making sure he has sunblock on because he’s not taking things for granted. That’s cool that he shared this. I love that we get to see these little glimpses into people’s lives.

We’re also very happy to hear that he’s doing better. Christine D’Ercole had an article in Brides magazine.

TCO 253 | Peloton Philanthropy


My understanding is that she wrote this and then the editors of Brides reworked it a little bit.

She’s written it in the first person.

If you didn’t know by now, the story is that Christine D’Ercole met her fiance, Brian, in one of her Peloton classes. They rode together for a long time, then it blossomed into romance. Years later, here they are and getting married.

She writes about how she was surprised because prior to that, she had been dating women.

To me, that’s not the story.

It’s not the story, but it’s a component of the story because she leads off the piece with that.

I don’t mean to be dismissive of that. Some people were upset because there were articles that were lookalike articles that use this as a jumping-off point.

They use this to create their own clickbait titles.

The title said things like, always dated women now in love with a man. It was stuff like that. I say that to acknowledge that that was not handled well by those other articles. That’s why I was explaining it wasn’t the story for me, but absolutely a component of it because love is love. That’s the story there.

If you’re going to talk about sexuality as a spectrum, there will be some people that move around within that spectrum. Anyway, that is out there on If you want to find that link, you can sign up for our email list at Finally, for this segment, Jeffrey McEachern has a special playlist for you over on Spotify.

It’s cool that they’re taking all these different instructors and posting their playlists on Spotify. If you haven’t gotten a chance to get to know him from his classes, this is another way to get to know the instructors to hear the music that they put into their playlist.

We want to welcome a new advertiser to the show. It’s one that you are extremely excited about. Oftentimes, we’re introduced to products and then you realize you liked them before we decide to start talking about them. In this case, it’s something you’ve been using for years.

I absolutely love Olive & June nail polish. Let me tell you why, because they developed an entire system to do your manicures at home. I’m not the kind of person that I like to get my nails done. There’s nothing wrong with that if you do by the way. I like to be able to do it myself but I’m not very good at it. Olive & June makes me good at it. They give me all these amazing tools that make my nails look good. They even have this little brush that comes with it. You do touch-ups as you’re doing your nails and it’s amazing. They don’t look like a three-year-old did them anymore. It’s magical. I’m telling you

Especially because of the way their system works. I know this from hearing you talk about it. When you’re doing your nails, it’s easy if you’re right-handed to do your left hand, and I never thought about it because I’m a guy and my nails look like this. When you’re trying to do your dominant hand with your non-dominant hand, it goes crazy.

It’s nice to have the little touch-up brush and your nails end up looking much better, but they don’t chip. They last for seven days. That’s the other amazing thing, plus your nails are in good condition. I love everything about them. They also have a pedicure system. They also have now press nails that you can get. Let me tell you something. They have four different links and shapes of these nails. They’re not like the kind you get where they look all funky on the end of your nail because they’re not the right size. They’re perfect. You can get it extra short, which is what I like.

It’s also affordable.

To make it even more affordable, you can get your own beautiful salon-perfect nails at home. It’s a dream come true with Olive & June. Your new nail life is here. Visit for 20% off your first MANI system. You should go ahead and order them now because we have our own masterclass coming in May.

As we mentioned, there are tons of reviews out there of the Guide. They clearly had a well-orchestrated strategy to try to roadblock fitness websites with stories about the Guide and it appears to be doing well. It seems like most of the reviews are fairly positive.

They’re not negative reviews but they’re also not like, “This is amazing.” They’re middle of the road like, “This is a serviceable product.”

It makes me think if they start adding the things we talked about earlier that people will start to feel differently. I wouldn’t be surprised to see maybe reviews in a year as they revisit it. Now that it’s been out, now that they’ve added things, what does it look like? We have reviews from

GarageGym review wasn’t a good one because they said that was the first look, and then they didn’t even have it so they hadn’t even tried it.

The Verge did one, Wall Street Journal did one, TechCrunch, CNET, Well and Good, PCMag, Engadget. If you want to drill down on some of these, join our newsletter at and you’ll get all these links in your email. You can dig into each and every one of them if that is your jam. Engadget has an article singing the praises of Lanebreak.

I included this because I keep hearing so many positive things about Lanebreak. There are a lot of people that don’t use it or haven’t tried spending time with it. It is totally revamping my relationship with my bike. I really enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun and they keep dropping new classes every week. I want to make sure and talk about it because first of all, I want them to continue to drop new fun content. Second of all, I enjoy them. I like that it’s quiet time. I don’t have a bunch of stuff happening in the background. It’s just fun.

It seems like it’s becoming this best-kept secret of Peloton for a lot of people. It makes me wonder if the Guide might have a similar evolution over time that it will develop its own niche following within the Peloton community.

I could certainly see that. I definitely think that makes sense for people who don’t have other strength items. That makes total sense.

If you’re traveling and you don’t want to miss your Peloton, Marriott has you covered. This is not an ad.

I thought this was funny because they had this big splash screen that’s like, “Don’t miss out with our Peloton suites.” They have a coupon that you could get to put in your room. We’ve known this for a while that they have these, but those were mostly Westins, not Marriotts.

This community likes to do two things: they like to ride bikes, and they like to give back to the community. Share on X

Originally, the first one that had that partnership was Westin.

This is cool that they have a premium suite featuring an in-room bicycle. There are tons and tons of hotels that have them now, but how great to have them in your room. Sometimes I don’t like to go to the gyms at hotels. Having it right there would be cool. Tom, you could go ahead and schedule our next vacation with one of these. That would be great.

I’ll get right on that. I wonder how long before we see hotel rooms that have Guides. That’s the easiest course of action there. I also wonder if you’ll see Precor, also known as Peloton Commercial, when they’re going to hotels trying to sell them bikes. They’ll start being like, “For $100 a room, you can put a Peloton Guide in every room and you have Peloton access in every single room in your hotel.” I feel like I’m giving Peloton free tips.

Maybe they’ll send you something free too, Tom.

I don’t need a Guide. Send Crystal a rower whenever that’s done. Finally, from our sad trombone department, Forbes magazine has an article, Not Rich Enough: Here’s Who Fell off Forbes’ 2022 Billionaires List. One of them is John Foley.

Not just one of them, he’s on the cover.

He’s not the main guy, but he’s right behind the main guy.

There were only four people on it.

I believe it was William Shakespeare who once said, “It’s better to have been a billionaire and lost than to have never been a billionaire at all.” He’s still doing fine. He was a billionaire on paper. It’s not like Scrooge McDuck.

It doesn’t make me sad about the money. It makes me sad because I care about John as a person. It feels like such a personal attack.

I get that. At the end of the day, he’s doing fine but it’s also the schadenfreude that some people have about it. I’m sure the optics of being the cover boy of an article like that while he still doesn’t need to do any coupon clipping is not a thing he enjoys and I don’t blame him.

I don’t either. Hang in there, John.

Apple Fitness announced that they are launching a program to help new moms get back into their workout routine.

This was interesting because it’s the first thing that Apple has done that I feel like distinctive in some way. They already had fitness, but a lot of the things that they’ve done have mirrored things that other companies are doing. This is a program specifically for postpartum moms to help them get back into shape.

Didn’t Robin do stuff like this?

She has postpartum classes but I don’t feel like there’s been a program that says, “Do A, then do B, then do C.” That’s the distinction to me. You never know what’s going to happen with this Guide unless we’re going to have this exclusive content. Maybe there will be things out there like that, where there are programs. Maybe that rumored Tunde arms program isn’t the only thing we’ll see.

That makes sense. It feels like maybe that might lend itself more to stuff like this, the Guide.

I think Peloton is going to be doing more programs. I understand there’s going to be content for your splits each week. Splits, for people who don’t know your different body parts, you might have chest and back days.

They are not going to make you do the splits.

They will not be doing that, but that’s good because a lot of people don’t know what classes they should be doing when, and that is something I hear from people all the time.

That’s one of the things we sing the praises of Tonal about with their programs. They put the dots close together. It’s like, “If you want to get lean, here’s a thing that will do that. If you want to build muscle, here’s the thing that will do that.” That is a big selling point.

I do think the Guide will help with that and hopefully, they will be doing something like this for new moms. That would be cool.

We have some new classes from our German camp.

Speaking of programs, this is you can run outdoors and it’s the German version. I saw this drop and I thought it was so cool because we haven’t seen a lot of programs come from the UK or Germany or have Spanish classes.

Peloton has some Grammy classes, wink, wink.

Why are you wink, winking?

Because I can’t say the word Grammy. They’re celebrating the stars who happened to be nominated for Grammys.

TCO 253 | Peloton Philanthropy


Is Grammy one of those things that have protected rights?

It’s a trademark thing so you can’t just associate yourself with it. You have to pay for the rights or get their permission or whatever. In the same way, you can’t say Super Bowl. I think you can do World Series because it’s so old, they didn’t think about it at the time. By the time they saw the value in it, it was too late. It’s anything like this, you couldn’t just say Oscars or Emmys or things like that.

They have Grammy classes. That’s what they are for.

They feature Glass Animals, Jazmine Sullivan, and a Lil Nas X. Finally, the Feel Good Fam has some new merch available for you.

You can get it from Luxe & Hazel. I thought this was fun. I love seeing all the new products that all the different groups come up with. I liked this one and I liked their different designs. If you want to check it out, you can go to Luxe & Hazel on Instagram. You can see all their fun and Feel Good Fam designs and get your own.

Joining us is Josh Vernon. How is it going?

How are you guys doing?

We are excited to have you here. I’m looking forward to hearing about your journey. I know that it’s been complex how you found Peloton. I’m curious if you would like to share how you got there.

It has been a journey. I grew up in Mendon, Massachusetts. I went to college and played sports. I moved back to Massachusetts after going to Virginia Tech. I worked and sports got pushed to the side. I started drinking and smoking cigarettes. I was like, “Where did that lifestyle come from,” but it was my lifestyle. This crazy dream came about of moving to the US Virgin Islands. I followed that dream eventually and moved there in 2015. Things went well at the beginning, and then things started to crash. It was one bad thing after the other. The lifestyle was not the greatest but the environment was. I can never change that.

With that environment comes the possibility of hurricanes. Two of them hit back to back within twelve days of each other. I pretty much lost everything I had except for my dog. He’s a trooper too. We refocused and I came home for a couple of weeks after the hurricanes, but I was helping in rebuilding and I felt good about that. I told my parents, “I’m going to go back.” This was around Thanksgiving in 2017. I went back and I did a lot of work in construction and things I had never done before. I was physically able to help out, so I helped out. The community was unbelievable after the storms.

It got tiring and I had nothing down there. My daughter was going to school in Virginia, living with her grandmother. I was done. January 3rd, 2018, I will never forget. I called my mom and said, “I’m booking a ticket for January 10th, 2018. I moved home. That changed where my life was headed right there. Things started to come back together. I moved home with a couple of bags and my dog.

It was like starting all over again at almost 40 years old. I got a job and went to work. I got another job and worked a second job. I found the amazing woman in my life. She lived in the town I had moved from. I was like, “I’m back around all my friends and I have a wonderful woman in my life.” She didn’t like dogs but for some reason, she loved my dog.

It was your dog.

She will now tell you that he comes first. I just came with. She workout and she went running all the time. At that point, I was still having some drinks. I would still smoke a cigarette here and there. This was in the middle of 2018. The next thing I knew, I stopped drinking and I had nothing to do with anything other than my own choice. I wanted to get full custody of my daughter back. I needed to prove that I had a real life again. I went to work and did that. I stopped drinking. I eventually stopped smoking. Six weeks before our wedding, I started working out and my wife will say, “It’s amazing how he picked a six-week challenge that ends the weekend of our wedding.”

I don’t know how much ground you are going to gain in six weeks, but better late than never. I can attest.

Those beginner gains are the best gains.

It was a six-week challenge of transformation challenge. Take a picture at the beginning, and take a picture at the end or along the way. There was a virtual group of us because it was towards the beginning of COVID. The next thing I know, six weeks later, I’m getting married and getting a check for a couple of hundred dollars because I won the challenge. I’m off to Bora Bora in the middle of COVID in the best shape of my life.

Was this a six-week Peloton challenge of some kind?

It was not a Peloton challenge yet. I had not touched the Peloton yet. My wife had. We got the Peloton when we bought this house in February, the month before COVID locked everything down. It was when I moved into this house. I like to say ever since I left the Islands in January of 2018, timing has been on my side. Something has been watching over me.

I was surprised when you said you went to Bora Bora for your honeymoon. I would be like, “I’m never going to another island.” She’s like, “Where do you want to go on your honeymoon?” I would be like, “How about Des Moines?”

Somewhere where there are no hurricanes.

Something was a draw to those islands.

It is beautiful.

If I can survive two Category 5 hurricanes, I figured like, “What are the chances, first off?” As I live in New England, we have a blizzard there. It was not a Peloton challenge, but it got me working out. My whole lifestyle, I was all of a sudden doing different things. I’m working out and having fun and running with her. I thought it was going to be more of a running thing, but then I hurt my shin and my back. I wasn’t feeling great running outdoors anymore. We did not have a treadmill at the time and we had the Peloton that she had been using. That fake workout. This guy had been working out for eight weeks at that point.

You are skeptical. You are such an expert on working out at that point.

She will never let me live that one down. That fake workout, I decided to try out one on October 24th with Tunde. Go figure.

You were not starting easy. That’s for sure.

The more people see and hear your philanthropy, the more good things get done. The more good things people do, the less we have to listen to the other stuff. Share on X

Thirty-minute prime riders. I forget what exact class it was. Starting out with Tunde and a 30-minute class. It was like, “Here we go.” I probably crawled off the mat after I stretched back there.

Imagine if you had not done that challenge first.

If I had not done that challenge, I probably would have been doing a few five-minute warm-up runs.

It would have been like the third hurricane.

I don’t know if I will survive that one.

Why were you so skeptical of the Peloton?

I don’t know what it was. It was maybe because I had never done a spin class before. I had never done any type of stationary bike riding before. You are stationary. You are not moving. I see her run. I see her two other Tabata classes and things like that, and she’s always doing hardcore classes. She then gets on the bike and it seems so easy but then it’s not. You can do all these other things so easily. I was so skeptical about it at first, but I was proven wrong very quickly. That’s for sure. I started with Tunde. I did a lot of Alex’s classes, and then I found that program button on the screen, and that led me to discover your Power Zones. That changed everything.

You were immediately hooked when you got to the Power Zone?

Yes. I hurt my back a little bit. It was a snow-shoveling injury. I could not run but I was still training for the 5K and 10.5K marathons. The first marathon in my life, the Boston Marathon was doing those virtually, so I needed to stay in shape. Power Zone training made sense to me, and it was a little more of a scheduled workout. I like being told what I’m doing and having that schedule. Those Power Zone rides and those four weeks of classes at the time made sense.

That led me to PeloFondo. I made a couple of social media posts about my progress in PeloFondo. This guy who never worked out is all of a sudden riding for 50 miles or 100 miles throughout the weekend. One of my friends saw the post and said, “You should join our Power Zone challenge team.” The Power Zone challenge started that January. From there, I was with a bunch of people I didn’t know doing a Power Zone challenge, but I had eight weeks of scheduled training and I was hooked.

You love that structure. You love having everything prescribed. You know exactly what to expect and when to do it. That works for you. How did you go from joining a Power Zone team to then creating a Power Zone team? That’s quite a jump.

It is quite a jump. From October to February 28th, I decided to create a team. I’m somebody who likes to build communities through social media with a little bit of nonprofit background to them as well. It felt like the piece that was missing to me was that camaraderie. A Facebook group for eight weeks, and then it’s going to change. I was getting new people on the team, and I knew one person on this team personally.

You get to see some people chatting and stuff on Facebook. That eight-week thing was like, “This can be better.” There are so many people in Massachusetts riding the Peloton bike and we can start with a community here. I talked to Angie VerBeck at the Power Zone pack. She said, “You need 125 people to start a new team. At least that’s my minimum.” My wife said, “You are crazy. Don’t do it. No way you are going to get 125 people.” I built the Facebook community online called Wicked Smaht Zone. I came up with the idea right away but I had one member, my wife.

Where did you get the other 123?

I had met a few people that had become my Facebook friends through some outdoor running and training and they knew some other people. Social media has a way of finding people. I posted the group on the Peloton Riders of Massachusetts, the Peloton Riders of New England Facebook groups. That got it started. They started inviting friends. Within a week, we had 250 people in the group.

Were you clear on why there was a minimum? Why does it matter how many people are in it?

It’s to start a new team because the Power Zone pack challenges are huge. There are so many teams involved. To manage a new team, you needed to have a minimum. It also did not make sense to have another 50 people. You might as well go join another team. I had a task. I completed the task and now it keeps growing.

That’s an understatement because then you added fundraising to this whole thing. How did that come up? I don’t even know how it got to the restaurant. We got to get there too.

We will get there. Part of building the community was not all like, “Could we do stuff together on the challenges for 6 or 8 weeks and hang out?” All of a sudden, people start becoming friends on Facebook. You are not in the same group. With everyone in close proximity geographically, we could do some outdoor gatherings.

The first gathering I did was part of a fundraiser that we started for one of our group members who was a lung cancer survivor at this point, fourteen years living with cancer. She’s in our community. My wife had done some fundraising for her a few years back. We reconnected through Power Zone and Peloton. Here she is living with lung cancer and has her own foundation called Lung Strong. We had all of these shirts made and all of the proceeds from the shirts went to her foundation. We raised a couple of thousand dollars for her foundation and that kicked off the philanthropy side of the Wicked Smaht Zone.

Everyone jumped on the idea. From there, it was like, “This community likes to do two things. They like to ride the bike and they like to give back to the community,” and then we like to get together and have fun. I bought 70 tickets to a Worcester Red Sox game, the new farm team for the Boston Red Sox in a brand new stadium. We had our own little private section outdoors in the middle of the summer and 70 people bought tickets. Exactly the amount that I had bought upfront. We all get together and hang out in the middle of COVID but in a safe environment. It’s unbelievable and people that had never met each other were hanging out like they were best friends.

It’s always scary when you buy the big-ticket package hoping you can fill it. We did that for Paul McCartney’s concert once. For that, you should have $15,000. We were not trying to make money. We’re like, “Please let us sell all of these.”

I was like, “Are the airline Miles really worth it? I’m not going anywhere right now.”

It’s a lot of stress until they are sold.

Luckily, McCartney is an easy sell. Everybody loves him.

I’m sure you guys did that pretty easily. How was that concert?

Amazing. My son is a huge Beatles fan. He was thirteen at the time and I was like, “I did not just want to buy a ticket.” The stadium gets hot or if it rains, you are going to be miserable. At least this way, there was an indoor component if it got worse. I was like, “Let’s set ourselves up to wind.”

TCO 253 | Peloton Philanthropy


It was also in the middle of summer in St. Louis, so it’s brutally hot here. You don’t want to be down there by the stage because there’s no coverage. It’s brutal.

No breathing whatsoever. I do want to come to see your city. I have not been to the Midwest or in that region. I always wanted to get there.

We would love to see you here, but I’m telling you, there’s not much to do.

I missed you when you were here in Boston. I feel bad about that. There was something going on with my daughter. I do apologize. Two of my friends were able to attend. The original Wicked Smaht Zone people with Mary Ellen and Darren.

Hopefully, we will be able to come back.

We had a great time.

We did. We love Boston. That was a lot of fun. For people hearing the name of your team, you need to make it very clear how you spell it because he really leaned in.

Wicked Smaht Zone. With an H as we like to say here in Boston and all over, knowing that for the most part. It grew from a Massachusetts-only group to New England to people who like to speak this way who lives in California now. I had a friend who went to college in Boston who liked it, and now we get people in the Power Zone. We love high-fiving that team on the leaderboard. They are always high-fiving us. I laugh when I see the name #WickedSmahtZone on the leaderboard. It’s grown on its own as well, which is neat to see.

It’s like some guys saw Cheers. I liked the song More Than a Feeling. You’re in.

Aerosmith, right?

Close enough. The J. Geils Band, Mighty Mighty Bosstones. We will take it.

We visited Boston once, so we could join.

I’m Shipping Up to Boston is played on every other house.

It’s like when you go to New Jersey and they play Bon Jovi on the alternative rock station because it’s New Jersey and it’s Bon Jovi.

I get it. We get a lot of Dropkick Murphys around here.

Your fundraising evolved and you have gotten a lot of immediate attention around this latest fundraising that you have done. Tell us about that and how that came to be.

Right before Christmas time, I had seen a friend share a post that they saw in the Philadelphia-New Jersey area church group. They got together thirteen people and went to breakfast. I called it the Shocking Clause. The thirteen people brought $100 each and whatever was leftover from their breakfast, they left as a tip. I figure breakfast is $10 to $15 tops per person.

That immediately rings a bell. I ran to Janine and I say, “We’ve got to do this.” We had three weeks to find people and make sure that the venue was going to be okay with COVID and everything going on. We made sure everyone that was going to come was vaccinated and boosted. All of a sudden, people started saying, “I can’t come.” I said, “That’s fine. We can take some extra Venmo money and I will bring some extra cash.”

I was like, “We should promote that. Whoever does not want to come or can’t come can send me a Venmo,” because the group is all over the country and some people are in Europe. People trusted me enough to send me a Venmo. This is a little weird but it worked. The next thing I knew, a couple of nights before we went to breakfast, all of a sudden, there was a $1,000 in 24 hours.

People are sending money left and right and they don’t know anyone at this restaurant. They have never been there. Janine and I were the only ones that had ever been there or maybe two other people. That was a piece of it that I wanted to. I did not know anyone that worked there. It was a restaurant I knew of and I knew the history of, but that was it.

We wanted it to be a true surprise for a small community where it would make an impact. For the server or two that we figured would get the tip. I went and cashed out $2,800 from the Venmo money and went to the restaurant with that 21 of us had breakfast that morning, and the final bill comes through about $380. The final tip was almost $4,000 with our money thrown in on day two.

I left it with the manager. We walked out the door and I thought that was the end of it. I figured I would probably hear from the owner or whatever. She called me a couple of days later and said, “I wanted you to know that everyone got a piece of that.” The entire restaurant and the entire staff. The lady who called out that day switched shifts with somebody.

It reached out to some people that needed it. It made an impact on a small community, and that’s what we were looking through doing. That’s it. The next thing I know, I’m getting a phone call that I need to get down to the restaurant in half-hour because the news is coming. They want to do an interview. Channel 4 news WBZ, CBS shows up at Lowell’s Restaurant at 7:00 on a Friday night.

I sit down in a booth and talk to them. I pick nothing up. That’s going to air and maybe a little 30-second thought on Friday night. We got some good air time. The restaurant got some good air time and a story. If I was ever going to do an interview, it had to be about the story and about it spreading. The more people that see it and hear it, the more things get done like that. The more good things people can do, the less we have to listen to the other stuff.

It makes way more sense if you are looking to do something nice than paying for the coffee and the guy behind you in the Starbucks line. I’m like, “That guy has got money for coffee or he would not be in the drive-through line.”

You are doing something nice but it’s not as impactful as what you guys did.

Meanwhile, the kid making $8 an hour pouring your Starbucks is like, “It’s nice for the guy in the Lexus behind you.”

Any good deed is a good feat. Share on X

The paying forward thing is wonderful. Any good deed is a good deed. The impact that it was going to make was going to be special. It’s not somebody who’s got the title of a barista, that’s for sure. It’s that little small $10 menu diner in Massachusetts. That was special to me that they had the room to hold us. They had a space that was safe for us and that it was going to have an impact, and I was not handing money to a barista.

That’s not like you don’t want to tip baristas, but you are not paying for the car in line behind you. I don’t want outraged emails from baristas.

I tip well no matter where I go and you don’t know who’s in line behind you.

That’s also an industry that was hit hard by COVID. It’s people that live on tips that weren’t able to make them at least for a while, and also not make them at the level that they used to because people weren’t going out in the same amount.

That was the biggest reason. I have had a lot of friends that worked in the service industry. I had done a little bit of fundraising since I moved back for a friend of mine who owned a restaurant and he ended up getting a grant for $10,000. A little bit of work we’ve done on LinkedIn for him. It made a huge impact. He was able to keep all of his employees and staff. That stuck with me how big that impact was there. I said to my wife, “There’s probably people in that restaurant who are constantly wondering if they will have enough money to pay for a babysitter or have their kids looked at after school or whatever it may be.

Especially, at a small diner like that. They work on tips, which means they get a percentage. When the average item is $10 and not $50, then your income is less as well. It can have an impact.

You get people coming in with groups of 2, 3 or 4 and not groups of 20 or 30. Those big events are huge.

You tend to stick around in a diner for a while, which means the tables don’t turn as fast.

You don’t churn as much. A smaller party means smaller prices.

All of that makes an impact. I will say, you set the bar pretty high for yourself. Have you already started thinking about how you are going to top that for the next one?

That started probably before.

What’s the name of that restaurant and are they hiring?

We saw some comments on social media like, “Why can’t that happen to my restaurant?”

That’s a pretty high bar you set for yourself. Do you have everything planned out for the next one?

It’s always in my head and my wife says, “No more projects.” “I can help out again. I can do this.” All of a sudden, we have 300 more people in our community because of all of this. Everyone wanted to join the Wicked Smaht Zone. They saw the giving back philanthropy piece. All of these people were getting into our community. They liked that aspect. We will accept them all. I had two admins helping me accept members over the weekend. We got 300 new people and then now we can do another fundraiser too.

I had a good member of mine reach out to me about his Pan-Mass Challenge bike riding event. It’s a huge event that all started in 1980. All the proceeds go to the Dana-Farber Cancer Society with Jimmy Fund. It is a national-type event but very big here in Boston for cancer research. He was like, “I bet there’s a bunch of people riding in the community. Instead of one person reaching out and putting up a post that they are raising money, why don’t we pull everyone together?” He’s like, “I will leave the rest to you.”

I put together a big post probably a day or two after the restaurant thing and asked who was riding. As of now, we have 29 riders in our community that are doing the Pan-Mass Challenge, either the full 2 days or 1 day. The big thing there is they are on the hook for their commitment. Some of these people are on the hook for up to $6,000 that they need to raise between now, and their cutoff date is sometime in September. The ride is on August 6th and 7th. Ideally, we’ll get the money raised by then.

It gets a little harder after the event to continue to raise money. It’s anywhere from $1,000 for virtual riders, but most of our riders are doing either the 1-day or the 2-day and it’s $4,000 or $6,000 that they have to come up with in fundraising. If not, it comes out of their own pocket. Let’s help them raise money. Our first effort was to start asking people if they wanted to do some Venmo, but I have not pushed that yet, but it’s Super Bowl season.

What do you do during Super Bowl season? We are going to put together Super Bowl squares together. The first sheet sold out in about eighteen hours. Half the proceeds are going to our Pan-Mass challenge riders, so $1,000 to them and $1,000 to the winners. I created another sheet. We have now sold 200 squares under 48 hours and raised $2,000 for our Pan-Mass challenge. That’s the kickoff to now an entire winter and spring of fundraising for our community of bike riders.

You are off to a good start.

If we can get the $10,000, that would be awesome. That would be a good amount of change from one source. We are going to distribute it all evenly based on their commitment. We have a percentage broken down for each rider of what they will get. That way, they are not all fighting for people’s donations within the community and we spread the love.

That’s a great way to make it competitive without being ugly.

It could get ugly because one person posted it and I was like, “Let’s shut that down. We don’t want to have any priority treatment here.”

What is your leaderboard name?

My leaderboard name was original and still is. It’s #VernOnABike. My last name on a bike. A lot of my friends called me Vern. I went on VernOnABike. It’s pretty simple, but people understood it. People knew it and Vern in is now on.

I would have wanted to Feel the Vern.

This is why I needed you, Tom. Where were you at that time?

Do wicked good. Share on X

Probably recording.

It’s never too late to change.

What I have done now is I did use Wicked Smaht Zone. That’s an actual leaderboard name. For this challenge, I’m using Wicked Smaht Zone as my leaderboard name. People see it and it’s a little Peloton social marketing. Maybe more people will join the group because the more people in the group, the more money we can raise for different community aspects.

There’s a lot more that I want to do with the community and giving back. One of the things that came out of this was this slogan, “Do wicked good.” That’s my next venture outside of this, but a whole little feel of lifestyle type brand that we might build around giving back and doing good things or doing wicked good at your next Peloton ride. It can be anything. This has all taken on a whole new life. Thanks to a little bike that goes nowhere and a treadmill. I like the outdoor classes. It’s all been a huge change in a matter of fifteen months.

That’s a very short timeframe for all that you have done. That’s for sure.

I have not had the chance to get to the studio like most people. There are so many of us that have joined the Peloton family since COVID, and I’m one of them. It’s on the bucket list for sure.

Hopefully, they fire that back up. Leo wants it safe. It’s funny that it was such a large part of the experience for people making that trip and you have this whole huge influx of people that it’s an alien concept to them.

They are like, “I don’t want people in the studio.” It’s so crazy to me.

It was like, “That would be weird. What’s happening now is here?”

“I want a bike number seven.” That’s one of the coolest things there. Everyone knew exactly what bike they were getting on. You hear the stories of the weekends and all the pictures that people took, the camaraderie they had with the riders, and how the coaches were the same on and off the bike. That’s such a cool part about it.

That aspect of the Peloton community, the fact that Peloton took the story and we did it out for us as well, was cool. I was hoping they would do that because we all want this brand to get its image turned back around and be what it’s all about. I was hoping that they would use that story for the right reason. I hope it did help a little bit.

I’m sure it did. You know that they liked it because they did not just put it on LinkedIn.

They take it on LinkedIn. It’s not just. It made Twitter great before the grandmother on the bike, and then she trumped it off.

Are you talking about Dr. May?

Yeah. She trumped the restaurant story.

She’s pretty cool too. Given that you guys do spend so much time on social media, how can people find you if they want to join the group or want to be part of it? How can they do that?

The easiest one is our Facebook group. We also have a small little presence on Instagram under Wicked Smaht Zone. For the most part, everything takes place on Facebook through our community there. We are 1,500 members almost. Not a bad start from 125 for sure.

Not at all. Before we let you go, where can people find you if you would like to be found?

I’m on Facebook under Josh Vernon. It’s pretty easy to find me there. I’m also on Twitter @JV1734.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us and thanks for turning your group into a good thing.

I appreciate it. Thank you guys for having me. It’s another way for the word to get out there. Let’s do good things.

I guess that brings this episode to a close. Until next time, where can people find you?

People can find me on Facebook at They can find me on Instagram, Twitter, or the Peloton leaderboard @ClipOutCrystal.

You can find me on Twitter @RogerQBert or Facebook at You can find the show online at While you’re there, like the page and join the group. Don’t forget our newsletter at That’s it for this one. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, keep pedaling and running, and guiding.


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About Josh Vernon

TCO 253 | Peloton PhilanthropyJosh Vernon is an Account Exec, Solect Energy, Solar, #VernOnABike #WickedSmahtZone Peloton, Hydrow, Rookie Tri, Animal Rescuer, Fundraiser, Travel.

My tweets are my opinion only.



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