The woman, who was at the forefront of the viral ad, now has a name aside from "Peloton wife"

By Robyn Merrett
December 07, 2019 12:34 AM
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Mystery solved!

The identity of the woman at the center of Peloton’s controversial holiday ad has been revealed as actress Monica Ruiz.

Ruiz is a California-based actress, who has starred in a number of commercials and TV shows, including Donald Faison and Kristen Johnston’s The Exes and About a Boy, according to her IMDb profile.

She also had a short role in the ABC Family comedy Baby Daddy alongside Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Tahj Mowry and Derek Theler.

Ruiz is also a skilled basketball and volleyball player, according to her IMDb profile.

“I was happy to accept a job opportunity earlier this year from Peloton and the team was lovely to work with,” Ruiz tells PEOPLE in a statement. “Although I’m an actress, I am not quite comfortable being in spotlight and I’m terrible on social media. So to say I was shocked and overwhelmed by the attention this week (especially the negative) is an understatement.”

Peloton’s controversial ad
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“When Ryan and his production team called about Aviation Gin, they helped me find some humor in the situation,” she continued, referencing the hilarious new commercial for Ryan Reynolds‘ distilled spirits line Aviation Gin, which was posted on Friday night. “I am grateful to both Peloton and now Aviation Gin for the work and giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do.”

Reynolds revealed the ad on Friday captioning the clip on Instagram, “Exercise bike not included.”

Monica Ruiz in Baby Daddy
Walt Disney Television
Monica Ruiz in Baby Daddy

In the video, an exhausted-looking Ruiz is seen staring blankly while seated at a bar with two friends. After coming out of her daze, Ruiz tells her pals, “This gin is really smooth.”

Her friends agree as one offers “We can get you another one” while the other friend says, “You’re safe here.”

“To new beginnings,” Ruiz’s character responds back, raising her glass before quickly gulping the cocktail in one breath.

“There you go, take this too,” her friend says to her before adding, “You look great by the way!” The comment may be in reference to the many hours Peloton wife spent on the bike her husband got her for Christmas.

Last week, Peloton released a holiday ad in support of their high-end fitness equipment — and instead of encouraging consumers to shop, the commercial triggered a lot of debate.

The 30-second video starts with a husband surprising his wife with the brand’s $2,245 (and up) stationary bike on Christmas morning. She then goes for her first ride, admitting she’s “a little nervous, but excited.”

Subsequent scenes (playing over Tal Bachman’s 1999 hit “She’s So High”) see the wife rushing in the door after work to get her workout in, and waking up at 6 a.m. to do the same.

“A year ago, I didn’t realize how much this would change me,” she says at the end of the commercial, as she and her husband sit on a couch and watch video footage of her workouts from the past year. “Thank you.”

Twitter users came out in droves to discuss the ad, mocking everything from its supposed message of a husband wanting his seemingly already-fit wife to lose weight to her being “nervous” about riding an indoor bike.

The backlash has since prompted the husband in the commercial — identified as Sean Hunter — to come forward.

“People turned down a pretty dark path and it turned into a nasty thing,” the actor and teacher said in an interview with Good Morning America.

“Once something goes viral, and it turns viral, people jump on that negative bandwagon and start to create any dialogue they want,” he continued.

“My image is being associated with sexism, with the patriarchy, with abuse, with these words that I am seeing people write about me — that’s not who I am,” Hunter told GMA, adding that the negative response to the ad makes him question the effects of social media on today’s society.

He concluded, “The aftermath of the commercial has left me with more questions than answers, and this is only half the story. I reflect on what my co-actor must be dealing with, as she’s the other 25 seconds of the story.”

Despite the flood of social media criticism, Peloton is standing by the holiday commercial.

“We constantly hear from our members how their lives have been meaningfully and positively impacted after purchasing or being gifted a Peloton Bike or Tread, often in ways that surprise them,” a company spokesperson recently told PEOPLE in a statement.

“Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey,” the spokesperson continued. “While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by — and grateful for — the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.”