A Five Points dad hit a parenting milestone this week, sort of. Sutton Nichols III successfully taught his son, Sutton IV or “Little Sutton,” to ride a Peloton. The popular stationary exercise bike, which offers live and recorded streaming fitness classes led by virtual instructors, has become a staple of homes inside the beltline.
What is normally a memorable moment between parent and child was somewhat bittersweet, as Nichols wasn’t physically present to teach his son how to ride the Peloton. “Look, I’m a Vice Executive President Associate Partner at a big commercial real estate firm. I don’t have time to teach my kid to ride a Peloton. My wife was on my case about not spending enough time with the kids, so I took care of it,” said Nichols.
Nichols had his assistant contact Peloton with an offer. He would pay the company to digitally insert him into a series of classes as the instructor, an idea he got from spending a significant amount of time watching YouTube.
“Have you seen these deepfake videos? They’re insane. These nerds figured out how to use computers to put a person’s face and voice on someone else. It’s like photoshop but for a video. It’s actually kind of scary,” said Nichols.
He was referring to the recently popular deepfake videos, which use machine learning to superimpose existing images and videos onto source videos. In the example below, actor Bill Hader appears to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise, and Seth Rogen.
When used maliciously, these videos also have the potential to end democracy. So there’s that.
We asked why Nichols had concocted such an elaborate and expensive scheme when he could have just become a Peloton instructor, or taught his son to ride a normal bicycle. “I make way – and I cannot emphasize this enough – too much money to become a real Peloton instructor,” he explained.
Since money did not seem to be an issue for Nichols, we asked why he didn’t buy a second Peloton to take the classes with his son. “And risk losing my dad bod? I worked too hard pounding cases of White Claw and Old Tuffy at the club this summer,” he scoffed.
We spoke to nearby residents and learned that Nichols was not the only one using the Peloton as a teaching tool. “I wish I’d thought of that deepfake idea. I travel all the time for work and figured I’d teach my kid to ride a bike by using the Peloton. It turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes of my life. After six months of classes, my kid started to think that Vince the Peloton instructor was his actual father,” said a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous.
I worked too hard pounding cases of White Claw and Old Tuffy at the club this summer.Sutton Nichols III
Nichols didn’t just pay Peloton to digitally insert him into their courses. He also had to find a time when the Peloton was not being used by his wife, Mary Eton Nichols. “She’s on that thing constantly. I don’t even know how she has time to tell the housekeeper and the sitter what to do.”
The competition among Peloton riders was one of many reasons why Mary Eaton didn’t want to let Little Sutton become a user. “This is my life. I’m out here every day climbing up the leaderboard. Have you heard about the PED ring in Hayes Barton? They’re all doping to gain an advantage. It’s absurd that Peloton isn’t drug testing,” she said, insinuating that riders are using performance enhancing drugs to become better at riding a stationary exercise bike.
“I thought about contacting Stacy Miller to sue another rider that I KNOW is cheating. Unfortunately, I don’t have impulse control and I just called the person out in our Peloton Facebook group,” she added.
Nichols convinced his wife to let Little Sutton use the Peloton from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, while Mary Eton was attending her daily barre class.
Mary Eton had mixed feelings. “I mean, yeah, it’s great that he taught Little Sutton how to ride a bike that doesn’t move, but how am I supposed to post that on Instagram? It’s almost fall and getting a shot of Big Sutton holding Little Sutton’s seat as he wobbles down White Oak with the leaves changing colors in the background was going to be the PERFECT beginning of fall post. What the hell am I supposed to do now?!” said Mary Eton.
While there are still some issues to work through, the couple is proud to see the progress Little Sutton has made. “He started dead last on the leaderboard, but he’s working his way up. We’ve scheduled him in classes with a few other kids his age, so he’s also making friends.”
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