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145: Will Peloton Save You From The Coronavirus? plus our interview with Panos Papadiamantis
More details on the lengths to which Flywheel went to infiltrate Peloton.
Peloton stock is up even while the market is down. Is the coronavirus the reason?
John & Erica Mills were featured in a Peloton video.
Humans Of New York had a post about someone struggling with Peloton consistency and the internet responded.
Peloton now works on your Chromecast.
Howard Stern earns his Century Shirt.
Michelle Pfeiffer loves her Tread.
Denis Morton and Andy Speer will be doing a meet and greet in San Diego.
Flash Challenges are here! Tom will tell you what he thinks that means and then Crystal will tell you the truth.
Selena’s Squad has new challenges starting.
Jess Sims and Chase Tucker are doing the first two-for-one bootcamp.
All this plus our interview with Panos about PNOE.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Will Peloton Save You From The Coronavirus? plus our interview with Panos Papadiamantis
There are a lot of stuff this week.
We have lots to talk about.
My favorite is how the Bike is going to save us all from the Coronavirus.
What is spoiler alert. You didn’t give an alert, you just gave a spoiler. That’s the wrong show. You’re supposed to do that on your other show.
It’s probably in the headline.
I don’t know what the headline is going to be, but since you’re writing it, that’s probably true.
I don’t know what it is going to be either, but it will be that now just so I can be right.
That wasn’t very nice.
Besides the Bike saving us from imminent death, what do you have in store for people?
We are going to find out the details of how awful Flywheel really is. I had an interesting test with PNOĒ and we’re going to talk about the results of that test, how that went. Our interview happens to be with Panos, who is one of the cofounders of PNOĒ. We’re going to talk about that. We also have news from past guests that we have to talk about and maybe future guests because there was a post that resounded with a lot of people that we’re going to talk about. Also some new fun stuff coming up from Peloton and there’s more celebrity-related things, then where Peloton is going to be in the world, a challenge coming up, challenges coming up. We have a visit from the Peloton Prophet and some new classes that you aren’t going to want to miss.
Before we get to all of that, shameless plugs, don’t forget we’re available wherever you get your podcasts. You should also subscribe so you never miss an episode. I will say as I do every once in a while that the subscription is free. Some people get put off by that word, especially people that are new to podcasts like, “I’ve got to pay.” No, just hit subscribe and then it will pop up like magic in your music rectangle box or your phone. You can also find us on the internet at Facebook.com/theclipout. While you’re there, like the page, join the group, so you can stay up to date with all the late breaking news throughout the weekend. There are all sorts of late breaking news lately. Check out our website, TheClipOut.com where you can sign up for our newsletter. While you’re there, if you’re that inclined, you can click the Donate button. We won’t stop you.
We’ll send a Thank You note though.
By we, of course I mean Crystal, but that’s who you want the Thank You note from. You don’t want it for me. What would that be like?
I don’t know. Probably some snarky response.
You’d be like, “I gave you $5 and that’s how you’re going to be?” It’s better for all parties concerned if you handle the gratitude. This is how it breaks out. You handle the gratitude. I handle the attitude. That’s pretty much our relationship in a nutshell. Anyway, there’s all of that. Let’s dig in.
I’m trying to think of the best way to say this without libeling ourselves.
We can’t libel us if it’s true.
Flywheel seems like giant bags of crap.
Keep in mind, that’s how they seem. It’s allegedly.
If memory serves from watching Penn & Teller show BS, they call people assholes a lot. If they said, “This guy’s a crook,” that’s libel but if they said, “This guy’s a dick bag,” they’re like, “That’s name-calling. No against that.”
Then we’re clear. We actually have things to base it on. I know we talked a lot about Flywheel in the last episode, but the thing is that after we recorded, they came out with this article. Vice.com came up with this article really digging down into the nuts and bolts of the actual lawsuit.
You hear stories about people throwing around in the media, the phrase, “corporate espionage,” and you’re like, “Really?” They had their own line of trench coats, little fedoras, little wires go into their ears. They’re talking into their cuffs.
This is bad. There are court documents that show that Flywheel had a project that was called Project Magnum, which was specifically, as far as anyone can tell, created to steal Peloton information.
The reason they called it Project Magnum is because they were that big a dick.
The thing is this started out with typical conversations going back and forth between John Foley and somebody over at Flywheel. It’s typical John Foley language. You can totally hear it. When you’ve had a conversation with him or if you’ve heard him in an interview, it’s just like he talks.
He’s like, “You just had a baby. Don’t waste time talking to me, go take care of your family.” Then that guy is like, “My baby can wait. I want to steal your stuff.”
It’s awful. It lays out for you how bad it was. Flywheel is trying to cover it up, “It wasn’t that bad.” There are two sides to every story, but all I can tell you is if Flywheel admitted that they did steal the information.
The end result is the court is like, “You have to give the other people all your customers.” That’s about as bad of a punishment as a company can receive.
That’s not going to be a done deal until the end of March 202. We’re still waiting to see how that all plays out. I haven’t seen any feedback coming in from people who were with Flywheel and are moving to Peloton. We’ll wait to see how that’s going to go.
It’s been a week, so they probably haven’t had a chance to make the transaction. Although, we did find out after we got done recording more late breaking information that you have to have your Bike paid off in order to trade it in.Cardio-metabolic testing is a method that has been around for over a century. Click To Tweet
If you’re financed, then you don’t own the Bike so they can’t come take it and trade out for a Peloton.
What was weird is I’ve read that if you move the financing to another finance company, then you can, which I don’t understand.
It is just a guess. I am not at all proficient in this area. It would seem to me that’s probably because they might be writing off that debt. You don’t know what their existing agreement is. Since their future seems a little unstable, maybe Peloton might even know more about the future than we do of Flywheel. There’s probably something like that, which they’re concerned about.
Why do they care who you owe the money to?
I don’t know, but I think that was interesting. You could either pay it off or you could go through a different financing company. Maybe it’s simply a financing company that Peloton approves. It could be that too.
At this point, you’ve probably had it for a little while so you should have it pretty far paid down.
I saw somebody just bought theirs a month ago, so not necessarily. That’s got to suck a lot.
What’s their return policy?
I know, none.
You thought the customer service was bad before, they don’t have any customers.
One more thing about this before we move on. I have to point out that the crappy part of this lawsuit was that Flywheel tried to allege that they had been working on it the whole time and Peloton stole their information. That’s the part that you’re like, “Are you kidding me?” John Foley has gone as far as to say he had the idea while in a Flywheel class. It was his idea. It’s crazy.
This is the old, “I’m rubber, you’re glue,” defense.
It can get ugly. We’ve had people on the show. We had Lori Cheek on the show, who was on Shark Tank. She had that horrible thing happened to her where this guy came out of nowhere and was like, “I had the idea first. I am suing you.” He has sued her three times.
Each time it gets dismissed, he does it again.
She has to keep fighting it and it’s expensive. This stuff can get crazy, but I digress. Anyway, Peloton, Flywheel, that’s where we’re at. I was shocked when I read this and how bad it is. This is an ugly relationship at this point, at least with these particular people I’m sure there are still people who work at Flywheel that are friendly with Foley and vice versa. I doubt it’s complete hatred, just because he’s such a nice guy. The folks that were directly involved, not so much. That’s my take.
It was pretty egregious. The more you read, the more like, “Oh.”
It’s hard to look at this. I know there are two sides to every story, but this one looks obviously Peloton was in the right.
There were all sorts of stock-related stories about Peloton.
It started when we had somebody post, Mike Kail. He posted in The Clip Out group about how the Peloton shares were going to be freed up, like there’s a six-month lockup and they were going to be freed early.
The people who were issued stock like founders and instructors that were there from the get-go, they’re not allowed to sell their stock for a certain period. There’s a blackout period. Please don’t call the SEC on us, we’re recapping this as best as we can.
If you want the full details, go to Bloomberg.com.
They’re locked out from being able to sell their stuff for a little while.
In this case, it was six months.
They were moving up the period of when they could start selling off, should they so choose.
The next couple of days there was an article about, “Peloton stock is up and that’s because the shares got freed,” and Wall Street loves that. They loved that the lockup came out. The shares started to rise because they got really low. It was ugly, I’m not going to lie. Then they immediately started to head up one.
I guess the concern is that whenever that blackout period ends, people might start dumping their stock for a quick payday. Most people didn’t think that was going to occur because the bulk of the people that are in possession of that stock are still with the company and are invested in it long-term.
Wall Street doesn’t get that about Peloton, so they were skeptical.
I get that because that’s not how most companies operate. Most companies are like, “F you, I want my money.” I get why we’re given that side-eye. Once that time was freed up and there wasn’t this dumping of the stocks, the stock started to rise. People were like, “We’re going to be okay.”
Then we had the article that you alluded to earlier, which is that the stock is rising, and John Mills posted this one. Thank you for posting that. The Coronavirus is on the rise and so are the Peloton stocks because you can work out at home when you have the Peloton.
Who wants to go to a gross gym and touch God knows what?
It’s true, I’ve always felt that way. It’s pretty gross.
I’m sure everybody has been to the gym where they sit down and somebody didn’t wipe down. Even if they did wipe down, just because they dried it off doesn’t mean it’s good.
You need to disinfect that. People don’t always do that. I’ve even forgotten to do it or there have been times I couldn’t find the disinfectant spray and I felt bad. I’d be like, “What are you going to do?”
If it’s not there, it’s not there. You’re coming home with the case of the cooties. Nobody wants that.
Now we have Coronavirus worries.
It does make sense. Before I saw that article, I was actually thinking that, “You don’t have to worry about getting gross stuff at the gym because you’re not going to the gym.”
I have to worry about it at work because there are ten of us sitting in a tiny conference room. That’s another story.
I can’t help you there. I find it fascinating that they think people are taking that, which I don’t know whether they are or they aren’t, but who knows?
Wall Street acts funky, but I will say that the stock is up. Today was another great day. The stock closed at 29.19 today. It’s up very nicely. It was ugly. I’m not going to lie. It was pretty bad.
I also heard that starting with Black Friday, how you get the gear if you buy the Bike, the weights and the stuff, they’re going to throw in a surgical mask. It’s the Coronavirus package.
That’s nice. That’s not true. I only say that in case somebody thinks it.
They should know if I’m saying it.
I know but we might have a new listener that’s not used to you yet.
PNOĒ, which is our interview of the week. It’s not strictly Peloton-related, but it’s a very interesting device that you’ve been waiting for a while. It replicates the VO2 Max thing. I’m just saying words you’ve said to me.
You’re doing great. I’ve had the VO2 Max test done before in a laboratory setting. PNOĒ allows you to do this in your own home at a reduced cost. We did this interview a while back. My point is telling you that I told Panos, who we interviewed, “I would love to do this test.” I’m super curious how everything’s changed since I’ve been working out. I did my test back when I was just started doing heart rate training.
You had the Bike a couple months maybe.
A little bit longer, but I had just started working out because Steven Little was super into heart rate training and that’s why I did it. That was the whole reason. You can take this VO2 Max test and you can do it at home on your own equipment, which is amazing. You get it at a reduced cost because it can cost like $200 to $300 if you’re doing that it in a lab setting, not to mention, another couple hundred bucks if you’re doing the RMR tests. It’s expensive. They were able to miniaturize the device and make it portable. That’s great. All to say, I had my test and it was really cool. We are actually going to have the results. You’re going to be able to see the results and listen to my results call that I had with Panos. If you are interested, we’ll post it on YouTube video embedded in. The reason you might want to go find it is because we talked to PNOĒ because we had so many people reach out to us. They were like, “I want to do this.” You can do this anywhere in the United States. They have affiliates. I can’t promise you in your zip code they have the ability to come to your house, but they will work with you to set it up.
If for some reason you pay for the test and then they don’t have somebody, you get a full refund. This is not some weird deal where you’re going to get screwed over. Here’s the cool part. Normally, a PNOĒ test for the active workout test is $199. They have authorized us to sell it to you for $129. They’re giving us a link to give to you specifically for this. That is super cool. The other thing is that if you want to do the RMR test as well, and that tells you how many calories you burn at rest, so that you can then see how many calories you should be using on a day that you’re exercising, how many calories you should be consuming on a day that you’re not exercising. It’s very helpful. You can take that test with the active test. Normally that’s $348. You can get it for $199. We were very excited to offer that. Keep in mind, this offer is only good for one week.
The coolest part is that when you wear the mask, you will look like Bane from Batman.
I did forget to mention that. Bane with a backpack, because you have a backpack and it’s pretty cute. The backpack is cute. The mask is not cute at all. There’s no way to make that cute.
It’s great because you can go like, “I want to go poison Gotham’s water supply.” You can do that.
Also if you’re worried about it, because we were talking about Coronavirus, they clean everything in a special medical grade disinfectant. You’re not going to be at risk of breathing somebody else’s stuff. I have to thank Russ Elliot, one of our past guests, for hooking me up with PNOĒ, telling me about them, explaining all of this to me. My local tester, Don Jacobs Meyer, who is right here in St. Louis, he came to the house and was super cool with everything. Also, of course, Panos, for offering us this deal to give to everybody. If you are interested in more information, there is a PNOĒ user group that Russ Elliot also runs on Facebook. It is very cool.
Our second John Mills mention of the week.
This is really cool though. If you haven’t seen it, and I don’t know how you could have missed it because it’s a great video. Peloton did a video that featured John and Erica Mills. It’s adorable. They’re adorable, so of course it’s adorable. You absolutely must go check it out, but it shows them in their home, their workout.
Just to be clear, John, I think you’re great, but the adorable stuff, that’s all coming from Crystal.
I think John and Erica are an adorable couple. I’m okay with that. That’s all me. There are tons of people that agree with me, Tom. Anyway, you should check it out.
If you want to know more about the Mills, you can hear them in episode four. They were very early in. Episode four, if you want to go back through the archives. You can hear them tell their story in their own words. Humans of New York?
I don’t know the guy’s name, so I had to post it like that.
It had a post about Peloton. He bought one and didn’t use it.
He was really bummed. This wasn’t a complaint. He was reaching out because he was stressed about the fact that he keeps losing weight and then he falls off the wagon and he gains it all back. He loses momentum and he was super depressed. It was a sad post. The thing that was interesting is that I got this post from no less than twelve people. They kept sending it. I don’t say that because I’m complaining. I’m not at all. I found it fascinating that it resonated with so many people. It wasn’t just our listeners. The instructors reached out. Almost all them posted some kind of very personal note to him, giving him advice, offering things. Stronger U, Mike Doehla, who’s been on the show, and we’ve used Stronger U. He reached out and offered a session to this guy. It was so many people offering support. It’s such a great example of what the Peloton community does. It had over 66,000 likes, one Facebook post.Each person's metabolism is absolutely unique. Click To Tweet
Did he respond? Is it working? Is it like, “You’ve got me, I’m going to go back?”
The first instructor that I saw that responded was Matt Wilpers. He offered Power Zone training to him and he did get on the next Power Zone ride and he was live. I don’t know how he’s doing three days after that.
It’s like going to a bar for the first time and somebody’s like, “Here’s some Jäger.”
No, it doesn’t have to be like that. It’s structured training. I don’t know if it was a Power Zone Endurance or I don’t think it was a Power Zone Max ride. It doesn’t have to be intense the first time, but I get what you’re saying. I don’t know what the end result was. I can’t find the guy’s name. If anybody knows this guy, tell me so I can find him. We’ll have him on the show. Let’s talk to him. Let’s get him the community that he needs to be able to make this happen.
Maybe you shouldn’t have me talk to him.
That’s true. It’s a one-on-one. Maybe we’ll watch his progress from afar. I would still like his name for that reason. You make a very good point there, Tom.
People with Chromecast got some good news.
If you have iOS, you sure did. I’m getting bitter over this iOS thing.
I will say that’s confusing. If you have iOS, what would you use Chromecast?
It’s weird to me because it says that you can get Chromecast for iOS. Two sentences later, it says, “During any video workout, tap the Cast icon on any Android or iOS device.” I have to say that was a bit confusing to me. In the article that I attached here, which is from the Verge.com, it literally says, “Peloton iOS app Chromecast support update.” I think it’s only iOS. I don’t know. I haven’t tried it because we don’t use Chromecast, so it’s not been a big deal. Honestly, I wouldn’t use this feature. I’m much more annoyed about other things that they do, but it’s the point.
There are some people that do.
Especially if you’re doing yoga all the time. You don’t want to do yoga necessarily in the same room that you’re using the Bike. It depends on where it is. If it’s down in your dusty basement, maybe you have concrete floor, it’s not the best place to be doing yoga. This way you can put it on your living room or let’s say you’re at a hotel, you can use it there. I won’t be able to do that. I’m not bitter.
Howard Stern talked about Jenn Sherman again.
You sound almost annoyed.
No, it’s funny like he’s got a little crush.
The day that Jenn Sherman quits, what’s Howard Stern going to do?
I don’t know.
I’m not saying that day’s anywhere near, but my point is these instructors can’t stay at Peloton forever. He’s so public. That’s such a public figure to be upset. We’ve never had a public figure lose an instructor and be public about how they felt.
It will be interesting to see what his reaction is. He’s got enough money. He’ll pay you to come over to his house and go buy a second Peloton. He’ll set it up directly facing his and be like, “Teach me. Do your thing now.”
It would be so creepy. She teaches to a room full of people. It would be weird. I don’t like that, Tom.
I didn’t say you should do it. He got a Century shirt. He took enough rides to get it. It probably hasn’t been mailed yet. That takes a bit.
It does take a bit especially if they’re not in stock. He reached his milestone. You’ve got nothing else to do except for sit on hold. You should reach out to this show and congratulate Howard Stern.
While we’re talking about celebrities and Peloton, Michelle Pfeiffer has a Tread that we just learned.
She got her cast off and she posted about how much she was enjoying her Tread and then she danced on it.
It sounded like it was a Tread that somebody threw away, “She got her cast off.”
No, she had a cast removed from an injury. She was so excited about having that cast removed that she was injury-free and now she could walk on the treadmill, that she then danced while walking on the treadmill.
I think it’s great that when you took your PNOĒ test, you look like Bane and now we have Cat Woman on a Tread. Your cohost is The Penguin.
She wasn’t dressed in Cat Woman wear.
Jess Sims is working with Bumble and Bumble hair products. This isn’t the dating app, isn’t it?
No. It’s called Bumble and Bumble. Bumble and Bumble was around long before Bumble was.
It sounds like it would be the law firm that Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer would use.
This is why we can’t get anyone to advertise on the podcast. I’m just kidding. We have lots of people advertise. It’s been great.
My bad, you did not use the Oxford comma nor should you have. I thought that was an oversight. I thought it was like, “Working with Bumble, and Bumble hair products.”
I see that now.
Now, I realized you actually meant Bumble and Bumble hair products.
All of that to say, Jess Sims is doing paid promotions with them, which is cool just by itself because it’s the first one I’ve seen her do since she’s been at Peloton. That’s exciting all on its own. Also, she was talking about how awesome their post-workout dry shampoo mist is. She’s been using it since November 2019. Then they had footage of her in the locker room getting ready. She looked adorable of course. She says it’s great for her hair type and that she absolutely loves it. She has a hard time finding products for her hair type. I thought that was really cool.
Hopefully, she hasn’t been using it exclusively since November 2019. She has washed her hair at some point.
I didn’t message her and ask, but it did say that she washes her hair as infrequently as possible, which is hard to do when you, as she said, sweat for a profession.
She sweats for a living.
That’s why it was so great to find this product because she can at least go a day or two, whereas before it probably was very difficult to do that.
Whereas for me, dry shampoo is just wind.
That is true.
When I have to get a haircut, they charged me by the hair. How few I have left? There is an upcoming Peloton Meet and Greet in San Diego.
I find it interesting because they no longer say it’s a store opening. Now it’s just a Meet and Greet.
I wonder if it’s because the stores are opening so fast that they can’t get to them like when they’re new. Every store is going to get an instructor appearance of some sort.
There have been some that they have. I think that’s why they’re renaming them because they can’t get to them all.
There are too many.
That’s just my theory. I don’t know. It’s not like somebody told me that. I’m reading between the lines. This is already going to happen. It is in San Diego like you said, but it’s going to be Denis Morton and Andy Speer. Hopefully, you get to go out there and check them out, get to know them a little bit. Also, you can hang out with the rest of the Peloton community, which is always cool at the store openings. In addition to that, you get to get your gear personalized by a local artist, Sam Machover, which is cool. That’s neat to be able to do that because they didn’t have that at our local opening.
I don’t know that St. Louis has any local artists.
That’s fair, based on the art programs I’ve been searching. We do have local artists. The community doesn’t support them in the same way that other places do.
They’re doing flash challenges?
Yeah, it’s a whole new challenge.
You better turn the camera off on your Bike.
Why? It’s not that kind of flash.
They start flash challenges. It’s Mardi Gras. What’s the guy supposed to think?
It’s not that at all. It’s a seven-day challenge and they can pop up any time. You have seven days to complete seven classes of any kind. Any activity counts, whether it’s strength, yoga, meditation, the Bike, the Tread, all of it counts. This time, it started on February 24th and you go until March 1st and they’re going to be popping up spontaneously. We’re not going to know when we’re going to get another one. You complete the activities and you get badges.
I heard the badge is beads.
I don’t think so.
That is a missed opportunity. They need me in their marketing department.
I think you’re for a different kind of product.When you're on a weight loss program, ensure that your exercise and nutrition are leading you to a reduced metabolic state. Click To Tweet
The Selena Squad has some stuff going on.
They do. We haven’t talked about groups in a while. I wanted to mention this one because Selena Squad has everything to do with Selena Samuela. There are so many tread instructors, especially if you don’t have Tread, you may not have gotten to try all of the different groups out there. Make sure that you go and join this group. They are getting ready to do a whole bunch of challenges. They have also been doing group runs. There are lots of activity in that group. It’s been tons of fun. If you haven’t checked it out and you have a Tread and you would like to make sure you’re a part of all the instructor groups, do not miss out on this one.
It’s great if you’re looking for a challenge that’s fully clothed. Finally, Jess Sims and Chase Tucker have a two-for-one bootcamps.
Do you not know what that is?
They’re both hosting the bootcamp. Will they have their clothes on?
Yes. This is going to be so cool. This is the first bootcamp that’s ever been two-for-one. This is history in the making. It’s closing out Black History month. It’s going to be East Coast rap versus West Coast rap.
That didn’t end well last time.
It’s hip hop, not rap. They’re not really going like all out. They’re not battling. It’s going to be fun though. It’s going to be great having both of those instructors up there with that energy. I hope everybody got to take the Tunde and Alex ride, because that was two-for-one on the bike this month. That was insane with the energy level. I have a feeling this is going to be the same way. I’m excited. It’s the first bootcamp. That’s cool.
Joining us is Panos Papadiamantis.
Thanks for having me here.
I have to point out that before this all started, and you can back me up on this, you said, “Pronounce my name without me telling you because I want to hear how you do it.” What happened?
When I was in grad school, I was a TA and then the teacher of that course would make fun of me. Whenever it was announced in the class, the teacher would tell the students that whoever was able to pronounce my last name correctly would get a bump in the midterm. Kudos to you, Tom. You get a bump in the midterm.
I got it in the first try. That means that instead of getting a low F, I would get a high F.
You’re such an overachiever, Tom. We should give a little background about why you are on the show. Normally, we always ask people like how they found Peloton, but you are a unique special case for our show because you are not a Peloton rider, but you do something cool. Can you tell them what your company is and what you do?
A little background on PNOĒ, which comes from the Greek word, breath, is a company that I cofounded a few years ago. What we’ve built is the first cardio-metabolic analyzer for the mass market. What is a cardio-metabolic analyzer? It is a device that analyzes twelve different things in your breath. Based on that analysis, it scans the three most important physiological functions of your body. It scans your metabolism, heart and lung function. Let me elaborate a little bit on this. When we say that PNOĒ measures your metabolism, it means that it is the gold standard way for measuring how many calories your body is burning. How many are coming from fats? How many are coming from carbohydrates? When we say that it measures your heart and lung function, what we mean is that it can tell whether your heart or your lungs pose a limitation to your ability to work out.
Cardio-metabolic testing is a method that has been around for roughly a century. People started to analyze other people’s breath roughly back in the 1920s. It is a well-established method. The problem until now was that devices were hard to operate and expensive. They didn’t provide any support to the user when it comes to data interpretation. To make a long story short, we made it portable, easy to use, affordable, and it provides the end-user with ready to consume information about their workout and their nutrition. It is a test that some people often refer to as the VO2 max test. In general, we don’t like to use that term to characterize a test because VO2 max is the maximal value of one of the variables being measured during the test. It is the maximum oxygen consumption a person can achieve. There are eleven other metrics that are measured during a cardio-metabolic test, which can be much more insightful and useful for the average person.
For everybody reading, I know there are a lot of people within the Peloton community that is aware of what a VO2 max test is, but there are a lot of people that aren’t. I know that yours is different because it’s easier to use, but traditionally speaking to give people some background. When you went in for what was called a VO2 max test, you had to go into a testing center. You had to wear this mask on your face and you had to show up at a certain time and be able to complete the task at hand. Riding a bike for a certain amount of time at a certain speed or running on a treadmill. You’re saying that you’re able to take that test that people previously had to do in a testing center and be able to do it at home. Is that accurate?
That’s 100% correct. The focus of the company is primarily small fitness centers and personal trainers. We do, however, have a lot of Peloton users who have bought devices for themselves, their personal usage, or they have turned their Peloton bicycle into a testing pad for others who can visit their houses and get tested. It’s democratizing access to that test. You no longer need to go to a specialized lab, hospital, or a performance center to get that test done. You can get it done in a CrossFit box or in your house.
What went into scaling that down into a more portable device?
It’s a lot of technology and R&D. Let me give you a little bit of background around this. The initial idea and design were conceived by my cofounder, Apostolos. He was doing his PhD in Cambridge, UK. He came up with a configuration of sensors that are able to measure the variables that you need to measure if you want to do cardio-metabolic testing, but the sensors are way less expensive. In order to get them to the point where they can achieve medical-grade accuracy, also this is important to state, PNOĒ has been independently-validated by several universities, Rutgers University, Georgetown, VA Maryland, etc. It’s independently-validated to have medical-grade accuracy. To get these sensors to be able to deliver that accuracy, we had to do a lot of hardware modifications on these sensors and also a great deal of signal processing. It’s innovation both on hardware and a software level.
It’s also important to note here that making hardware easy to use and cost-effective is one piece of the puzzle. The other piece of the puzzle is developing a service that allows the average fitness practitioner to use that device without needing to have the skills necessary to analyze cardio-metabolic data. We are measuring twelve variables in real-time in your breath and going from raw cardio-metabolic data to specific workout and nutrition recommendations. That’s something complicated that few people in the fitness industry are able to do. We’ve built a sophisticated data analysis platform on our cloud that does that automatically and is assisted by a lot of metabolic experts that we have in the team.
I’m excited about that because I’ve had VO2 max tests. I’ve also had an RMR test done to determine how many calories and stuff I’m burning. My understanding is using those two together, in theory, you would be able to say, “This is the heart rate you should be using when you work out. This is the different heart rate zones you should be using.” You can customize that and you can also take it a step further and say, “This is how many calories my body is burning per day. When I do this much exercise, this is my caloric deficit.” Be able to hone in on how hard you should be working out. Do I understand all of that correctly?
That is absolutely correct. That’s why ideally, if you want to map out your entire metabolic profile, you would want to do both resting and an exercise test. The resting test is going to measure how many calories your body is burning at rest. The exercise test is going to measure how many calories your body is burning in different exercise intensities. How can you get an accurate estimate of how many calories your body is burning on a 24-hour basis? The reason why we started a collaboration with WHOOP is that you can get the test done, but then we also need to know what is your activity level. We also need to know how many calories you’re burning at each activity level. By combining the information that you get from PNOĒ with the continuous monitoring that comes from a device like WHOOP, you are able to get highly-accurate calorie readings on a 24-hour basis.
You can do it all at home. Whenever you do a VO2 max test traditional one at the actual testing center, you have to hit a certain speed and be able to exhaust yourself. You have to hit a certain point of exhaustion. Do you have to do that with your test? How do you monitor that if you’re alone?
Most tests are done with someone administering the test to you. There are cases of people that do the test by themselves and it’s doable. What you need to monitor are some key metabolic parameters that appear on the PNOĒ app in real-time. You know when you need to stop the test, but roughly 95% of tests taking place now are being done with a friend of the person being tested, a personal trainer, the owner of the fitness facility, etc. To your point, do you need to follow exactly the same protocol as you would do in a testing site? The protocols don’t change. The method for mapping out a person’s metabolic profile is standard.
It’s a matter of how easy it is to go and get tested. Importantly, how do you analyze the data coming out of the device? Analyzing metabolic data to the fullest extent possible is something that requires a lot of expertise. The reality is that even with medical-grade systems that you can find in the lab, they do provide a lot of information to the practitioner, but the practitioner is not always able to make good use of all of the information coming from the test. At best, what you get if you go to a testing center is five training zones and your VO2 max. This is by no means a complete workout and diet plan. When in fact the information is there and could have given you a complete workout and diet plan if there was a sophisticated algorithm in a process that would effectively make use of all of the information gathered. This is the second piece of what we have developed in PNOĒ. We scan everything that is known around cardio-metabolic testing, put it in an algorithm that is cloud-based and allows us to provide every person that gets our test with the full spectrum of information that can be derived from a metabolic test.
Do you think that in time, you’ll start to see those test centers switch to something like this?
They are already switching because they understand that there is no need to be using a bulky device. There is great value in utilizing our reporting service because it analyzes many things that they weren’t able to analyze before because they don’t have the time or expertise. To answer your question, a lot of performance centers and long-time users of metabolic analyzers are now using PNOĒ.
You mentioned a partnership with WHOOP. Can you talk about that a little bit more? What’s that going to look like?
One of the things that the cardio-metabolic test will do is that it will measure your caloric expenditure at rest and in different exercise intensities. What wearable companies have done like Apple, for example, is the largest experiment in history. They have measured over 10,000 people in their facility in Cupertino with metabolic analyzers in order to develop algorithms for the Apple Watch. The way Apple Watch estimates calories for you is by utilizing some regressions that they built based on their experimental data. What these regressions do is that they assume a specific metabolic profile for you. Based on that, they give you an estimation of your calories.
However, as it has been shown in many studies, even though they have amassed vast amounts of data, still each person’s metabolism is unique. If you want to get a wearable to provide you with accurate calorie data, you need to have your own metabolic profile plugged in the algorithm that correlates heart rate and acceleration with caloric expenditure. What we’re doing now with WHOOP is that every person that has a WHOOP can get tested with PNOĒ and the information from PNOĒ is going to sync with their WHOOP device and it will make it roughly 2.5 times more accurate in measuring calories. Also, it will substantially increase the accuracy in the strain metric, which training zones that are assessed based on demographics.
One of the things that you can do with PNOĒ is you can get your personal training zones, which can also fine-tune your strain metric. That process of using metabolic information to calibrate a device that measures heart rate and acceleration isn’t something new. Researchers have been doing it since the 1990s because back then, they would have this big bulky device that would measure heart rate and acceleration. They would use these among patients because they wanted to measure their caloric expenditure in free-living conditions. They knew that if they were to use demographics, they would get not such accurate data. They developed that process of calibrating acceleration and heart rate metrics with metabolic information. That’s exactly what we’re doing now is that everyone has an accelerometer and a heart rate monitor on the wrist, hence this integration with WHOOP.
That’s groundbreaking for a person like me because I’m not a serious athlete. I work out a lot since I’ve had my Peloton, but by no means am I a serious athlete. To be able to have that powerful data, to be able to improve still and I’m an average person who works out. That is insanely exciting.
For the average Peloton user, I would say that dialing in your calories and getting accurate calorie information is something important. The other piece of information that is also important is the fact that by using a metabolic analyzer on a Peloton device, it’s the only reliable method of measuring whether your metabolism is slowing down. Incorrect training, chronic dieting, hormonal changes, all these are reasons why a person’s metabolism might start to trend downwards. It has been widely shown in the literature that slowdown in a person’s metabolism is the number one physiological factor behind people’s inability to lose weight or people’s tendency to regain weight after they lose it.
It has been shown by many studies that metabolic slowdown is the culprit behind the inability to lose weight. It’s not that there are millions out there who have some pathological lack of willpower to adopt a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, a lot of people end up adopting a healthy lifestyle, but they are still unable to lose weight or they regained weight easily. As it has been shown, there is true physiological perturbation that has taken place that needs to be undone in order for people’s metabolism to go back up and allow them to lose weight. When you’re on a weight loss program, the single most important thing that you should be measuring is whether the workout and nutrition that you’re doing are leading your body to a reduced metabolic state.
If it is, you need to stop doing whatever it is that you’re doing right away. One of the most famous examples of a metabolic slowdown leading to extreme weight regain was that of The Biggest Loser. There was a big study that was done on the participants of The Biggest Loser who ended up adopting a healthy lifestyle after the competition, but nearly all of them regained the weight. That prompted a lot of researchers to look into that. What they found out was that these people’s metabolism was destroyed. The reason it was destroyed was that they did incorrect dieting, like intense dieting, in combination with excessive amounts of cardio and ultimately, that led them to be burning substantially fewer calories compared to what it was predicted for their size, gender and age. Keeping track of whether your metabolism is being maintained is extremely important.
What did they recommend that they do instead?
When your metabolism starts to go down, there are a couple of things that you need to do. Increase weight training, that is something that helps and in two ways. First of all, it builds muscle, but also induces certain hormonal changes that will make whatever muscle mass you have on your body burn more. Weight training is one remedy. Getting off the diet for a period of time is also something that is going to be useful. Going into re-feeding states and then once your metabolism is back up, then you can go back to cutting calories.
Given all of that, how often should a person in their 40s or 50s be checking their metabolic rate?
At least once a year. According to the American Heart Association, there was an official statement published in 2016. Every adult needs to be getting a cardio-metabolic test regularly. If you are a person that is on a weight loss program, it is recommended that you get tested every three months. However, that also depends on how acute the intervention is. If you’re going in and you’re drastically changing your nutrition and your workout, that could probably justify even more frequent testing. In general, 2 to 3 months would be fine for someone who is going on a diet.
Maybe this is already a thing, but the idea of going in and out of the feeding and re-feeding states. Is that something that you think eventually your smart device would tell you like, “Today’s a good day to pig out. You’ve been at this level for a certain amount of time. Go ahead and have a pizza. Get back to normal in one-and-a-half days?”
It doesn’t change in a couple of days. The hormone changes and the muscular efficiency changes that will need a person to get into that reduced metabolic state will need a couple of months to evolve. That’s why you don’t need to be testing yourself every day or week. We will need to get to that point. The utility of the test is we start with a test. We understand exactly how many calories your body is burning now. We are able to give you a caloric recommendation that will yield a caloric deficit for you. To lose weight, you need to have a caloric deficit in place. This is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. We check you regularly. I’m saying that because there’s a lot of noise nowadays in fitness. If we’re debating that, then we have much more fundamental debates to look it up. We measure your metabolism. We know what deficit looks like for you. The deficit therefore that we prescribe to you isn’t too big, isn’t too small. We check you regularly to see if your metabolism is going down. If it is going down, we take you out of the diet. You need to spend some time in an isocaloric state. Maybe spend some time doing more strength training, etc. and then we put you back on a diet.
This person can do this in theory at home or in test centers. How do they find out if your device is near them? If it’s not near them, how do they get one at home? How much is this going to cost? It sounds super expensive.
We started to serve direct to consumer traffic. We are updating our website. There is going to be an interactive map on our website that will allow you to find testing locations near you. If you’re interested in getting tested, you can reach out to us through our website. There’s a chat box there, you can follow some Instagram, @PNOE_Analytics, or you can send us an email to [email protected]. We do the triaging and matchmaking manually at this point. I expect the website to be live soon. In the future, there’s going to be an interactive map that does that automatically. If you want to get a device at this point, the focus of the company is selling devices to gyms and fitness centers. The price is $7,500 at this point for the device. We have plans to create a device for consumer use, which is going to be much cheaper. That will allow a Peloton user to have a device in their house.
Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to join us.
It was my pleasure, 100%.
I will be reaching out to you to talk more about how I can figure out a way to try this out in St. Louis, Missouri.
We have affiliates in St. Louis, Missouri. Send me a note and I’ll put you in touch.
I should probably point out too that he’s historic. He’s the second person to be on the show that doesn’t use a Peloton. There’s me, I’m the first one.
We should test you for first then.
That’s a good idea. We should test you.
That’s just a way to get me on a bike. I’m not dumb.
Part of the value proposition, at least for athletes, where you want to do more precise testing and you want to make sure that you measure your cardio-metabolic response in real training conditions is that you can get the test on in any environment and any sport. You’re not tied up to a treadmill or a bicycle. That’s not necessarily something meaningful and useful for the average consumer. All of the applications and information that I talked about are relevant for the average consumer. If you’re an athlete, you can get tested on a rower and in outdoor conditions. If you don’t want to get on a bicycle, you can still get the test done and you can use your own protocol. We will get you somehow.
It probably wouldn’t take too much to get me winded. It’s like walking from my car to the lobby, you can run it out and put it on me right there.
Another thing that Peloton users should have in mind is this whole thing around training zones because we have a lot of people who ride Peloton and get tested with PNOĒ or any other metabolic analyzer in order to get their training zones dialed in. It’s extremely important to be sticking to your own personal training zones if you want to get the biggest bang for the buck.
Using the standard heart rate zones can be far off for people.
They are far off that we’re not talking about a metabolic change that you’re missing, but they’re not feeling. In many cases, there are people who feel that what they’re Peloton is telling them to do feels off because their heart rate spectrum is different. To give you an example, if you want to develop fat-burning efficiency, in other words, the mitochondrial capacity to utilize fat as a fuel source. In order to develop that metabolic adaptation, you need to be in zone two. Zone two is a narrow zone in terms of exercise intensity. It’s, for example, between 110 to 120 beats per minute. That’s an example of where a person burns the highest amount of fat. That zone is narrow and that zone can be different among people of the same age and gender.
Using demographics to get through zone two can be inaccurate. For example, if you have two people, one has his own true zone between 110 and 120, and then the other person’s true zone two is between 120 and 130. If both people exercise between 110 and 120, one person is going to be getting up to 50% less metabolic adaptation when it comes to developing fat-burning capability. That’s not an exaggeration. You can see how rapidly fat oxidation deteriorates once you leave that point of maximal fat oxidation. If you’re riding Peloton for hours, especially if you’re a semi-professional or weekend warrior, you name it, and you want to get the biggest bang for the buck, you don’t have a lot of time for your training, etc. It is worth getting your training zones dialed in.
It’s good to know. Thank you for taking the time to do this. It’s been awesome, informative and our readers are going to be excited about this.
Thank you so much. I appreciate the invitation and do get in touch. We’ll get you tested.
A little nerd thing in my head the whole time we were talking to Panos, I had to stop myself from saying, “The Hands of Fate.”
No, not Manos.
When I accidentally said his name right, that’s why. It was because of the legendary Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, Manos: The Hands of Fate. Any other nerds out there that were struggling with that same thing? I can’t be the only one. That was interesting all the stuff, that little device can do. If you are interested in doing that, they’re running a sale right now through us. If you go to our Facebook page, Facebook.com/theclipout, you can click through to that and get that deal for how much?
It was $129 for the Active Test and then $199 for the Active Test and the RMR Test.
That’s a very large savings. That’s all out there if you would like to do that. If you would not like to do that, that’s okay too. That’s it for this one. What, pray tell, do you have in store for people on the next episode?
Another great treat. We are going to another country. We’re going to Canada and we’re going to talk to #CanadaBrenda and her real name is Brenda Kramer.
We will bundle up and dress warm because we’re going to Canada. Until then, where can people find you?
People can find me at Facebook.com/CrystalDOKeefe. They can find me on, Twitter, Instagram, on the Bike and of course the Tread, @ClipOutCrystal.
You can find me on Twitter, @RogerQBert or on Facebook at Facebook.com/TomOKeefe. You can find the show online at Facebook.com/theclipout. While you’re there, like the page, join the group. Check out our website at TheClipOut.com. While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter, so you get all the handy-dandy notes and deals and things like that delivered straight to your inbox. It will make your life that much easier. That’s it for this one. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, keep pedalling and running.
- article on Vice
- YouTube video on Crystal’s PNOE results
- Episode four – previous episode
- Mike Doehla – previous episode
- article – The Verge
- Bumble and Bumble
- Panos Papadiamantis
- Apostolos Atsalakis
- American Heart Association
- @PNOE_Analytics – Instagram
- [email protected]
- Twitter – Crystal O’Keefe
- @ClipOutCrystal on Instagram
- @RogerQBert on Twitter
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