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Premium Perk: Psynergy purchases Peloton bikes for motivated employees

Mike Micelli riding his Peloton

October 22, 2020 - Californians have been hard-pressed to find a silver lining in being cooped up during the pandemic.  But employees of mental health leader Psynergy Programs in Morgan Hill and Sacramento are reaching out, slimming down and meeting new friends on Peloton bikes whose purchase is reimbursed by their company.

Matt Brown, Psynergy’s director of information and development was talking with contacts in Europe in late February about the effects of the pandemic there.  For him, one of the most concerning was the fact that gyms were shutting down.  A self-confessed exercise junkie, he was worried about how to stay healthy if gyms closed here.  He made a commitment to buy the $2,500 bike and $39/month membership that allows Peloton owners to ride together and take classes online.  He liked it so much that he wondered if there was a way to expand his circle to include the people he worked with.

“I pitched the idea to Mike Weinstein, one of our company’s founders.  He ordered a bike, and got hooked on it right away,” says Brown.  “We discussed how cool it would be to recruit other riders from inside the company.” 

Sure enough, just 12 days after Mike Weinstein received his bike, all of the gyms in California shut down overnight. 

“We’ve always provided a stipend for gym membership as part of our company benefits,” says Weinstein.  “It’s clear to me how substantial the link between physical health and mental health is, in terms of staving off depression and promoting overall well-being.  In the mental/behavioral health realm we have to be thinking about taking care of not just our clients, but our staff too, as the pandemic affects everyone.  When we realized that gyms would no longer be an option, we started looking at how we could potentially make the Peloton alternative available.”

Brown put together a presentation to sell the idea to company management, and reached out to Peloton for ideas.  While he couldn’t get a “deal” for his company, the standard terms are achievable for almost everyone as Peloton offers 0% financing.  And if the employee uses the equipment for a minimum of 300 minutes per month, Psynergy Programs reimburses them 100% in a monthly stipend to cover the cost of ownership.  The employee commitment works out to 10 30-minute classes, or 15 20-minute classes a month, or roughly every other day, to be eligible for the stipend.

“Peloton has done a really good job of producing their exercise content through an online app,” says Brown.  “There are classes ranging from 5-minute warm-ups on the bike to 120 minute-long classes for cycling, strength training, yoga, running and meditation.  Some of the highest-rated personal trainers in New York have been recruited as instructors for Peloton. If someone wants to do just the app, that’s available for $12.99 a month, and we will reimburse that too.”

The class content and instructors have boosted Peloton stock into the stratosphere during the pandemic as people look for an outlet to exercise and be social.  Now, the only downside is that there can be as long as a 6-month wait to receive a bike.  Even so, Psynergy is finding the Peloton perk to be a valuable hiring incentive. The company has hired 15 new employees since the rollout of the program in early July, and so far 12 company employees have purchased machines. 

“The cost of the bike and membership over a 39-month commitment is $4,000, but if the employee stays with Psynergy, they will end up paying nothing,” says Brown. “The Peloton does not replace gym memberships – both options are available, and employees can select one or the other.  It’s a big investment for our company, but so far, it’s been worth it.”

Brown related that staffer Mike Micelli (pictured at the beginning of this article) contacts him almost daily about his Peloton experience.  So far, he’s down 33 pounds, lost in two and a half months.  He has a newborn and another young son, so between work and family life, his exercise window is limited – even if a gym were available, when would he have time to go?  So the Peloton allows him to put his kids to bed and jump on his bike for 30 minutes nearly every night.

Psynergy has its own Peloton hashtag: #togetherachievingmore, one of thousands of micro-communities worldwide that are staying in touch through the bike.  Brown and Weinstein are hoping to put together some company rides in the future.

“It’s fun because our folks can ride together and high-five each other from home, which helps everyone socialize safely as well as reach their exercise goals,” says Weinstein. “At the core of what we do is the importance of mental health and the correlation between both mental and physical wellbeing.  In these times, it is more important than ever that Psynergy remains a united family.”

Here's what another Psynergy employee is saying about the program:

Many thanks to the Psynergy Wellness Program for introducing me to the Peloton! It’s been an amazing program to help motivate a more active lifestyle in a way that is fun, interactive and with endless variety. This was my first introduction to cycling and with the range of programming offered by Peloton, including beginner and low impact classes, I was able to quickly get familiar and comfortable with a new way to exercise, right in my home! Given the recent challenges 2020 has presented to exercising at the gym or outdoors, this has made working out convenient, accessible and safe. There are so many types of workouts available, not to mention stretching and meditation classes, my faves are running, cycling and the bootcamps. I’ve been using the program for a few months now and there’s still so much to discover and new ways to challenge myself.  I could not be more impressed with my Peloton and feel grateful to work with a company that generously supports this opportunity for self-care and wellness. 

–Dr. Ricki Leigh Brampton