United Kingdom

'Peloton wife' is married mom-of-two who wanted to be an elementary school teacher before modeling

Before gaining widespread attention as 'Peloton Wife' in the now infamous exercise bike commercial, Monica Ruiz was living the quiet life as a model and married mom-of-two. 

California-based Ruiz shot to fame in early December after starring in a Peloton commercial titled The Gift That Gives Back, in which a woman - Ruiz - receives a stationary bike from her husband on Christmas morning. 

In the ad, she documents her year-long fitness journey in a series of videos that she compiles into a thank you video for her husband.

Viewers lambasted the ad on social media, calling it sexist, misogynistic, humiliating and cringeworthy. 

Actress and model Monica Ruiz stars in the controversial Peloton holiday commercial 

Ruiz (pictured) played the wife who received a Peloton bike for the holidays and spent the next year documenting her use of it as a thank you to her husband

Ruiz said that she was 'shocked and overwhelmed by the attention' - much of it negative - from the commercial. Ruiz is pictured here getting ready for a photo shoot

Aside from appearing in commercials, Ruiz (pictured) has a healthy career as a model, appearing in a variety of advertisements for stores and brands including Target and Gap

Ruiz, a married mother-of-two, also spent time as a maternity model when she was pregnant

In a statement to Deadline, Ruiz said of the commercial: 'I was happy to accept a job opportunity earlier this year from Peloton and the team was lovely to work with. 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.'

Prior to the Peloton commercial, Ruiz had an otherwise uncontroversial career modeling and acting on TV and in commercials.  

Her IMDb credits list her as having appeared on a handful of TV series between 2014 and 2015, including NBC's About a Boy and TVLand's The Exes. Her first TV credit was from an appearance on BET's The Game in 2009. 

She could also be seen in TV spots for Rent-A-Center, Lee Jeans and Herbal Essences.  

In addition to her acting, Ruiz has had success in the modeling sphere, landing a Speedo campaign and being featured on the cover of magazines including Parents and Pregnancy and Newborn. 

Ruiz is seen here in a maternity ad for Target. It is one of several ads she shot while pregnant

Ruiz, a California native who played high school volleyball and basketball, worked with Speedo

Ruiz has a variety of TV credits from guest appearances on TV shows including Baby Daddy (pictured), as well as The Exes and The Game

Ruiz is pictured here with her husband, Christopher O’Malley, who she married in 2013

Ruiz often features pictures of herself and her children on the beach on Instagram

While pregnant, the married mother of two also appeared in advertisements for Target and the Gap.

Prior to getting into the acting and modeling industry, Ruiz told IGN in 2004 that she had planned on becoming an elementary school teacher, which was why she majored in sociology in college at University of California, Santa Barbara. 

She said that she had initially been asked to do some catalog modeling work for girls clothing while in high school - where she played basketball and volleyball - but took a break from the industry until college. 

'I really liked it but I was very shy in front of the camera,' she said, adding that 'I decided it wasn't for me until college, when I realized that I should have pursued it more because of the great opportunities to travel and meet so many different kinds of people. I decided to give it another shot, because I knew if I didn't, I'd regret it when I was older.' 

Ruiz is shown here hugging one of her children in a snapshot that she posted on Instagram

Ruiz had a very active career as a maternity model while she was pregnant with her children

Ruiz is seen here in a maternity and yoga-themed advertisement for Target 

As a model, Ruiz also landed on the cover of magazines including Parents (pictured)

Ruiz posted this picture of a maternity-themed online shopping catalog image for Gap 

Ruiz also said that she enjoyed modeling because 'I just love the transformation models can go through. Makeup and hair can make you feel like a different person, and its fun.'

Less than a week after the Peloton commercial controversy arose, Ryan Reynolds revealed that he had tapped Ruiz to star in a cheeky commercial for his Aviation Gin company, titled The Gift That Doesn't Give Back. 

In the gin ad, Ruiz stares blankly into the camera for some time, before it's revealed that she's sitting at a bar enjoying a drink with her friends. 

The ad, which appears to be positioned as a continuation of the Peloton ad, sees Ruiz proclaiming that 'This gin is really smooth,' as her friends say, 'You're safe here.' 

After toasting each other, Ruiz says, 'To new beginnings,' before draining her glass. One of her friends then slides her glass over to Ruiz and says 'it's gonna be a fun night.' 

The commercial wraps up with a shot of Aviation Gin and a voice over of a character saying, 'You look great, by the way,' a statement which is being seen as a dig at the the Peloton ad. 

When sharing the ad with his fans, Reynolds tweeted: 'Exercise bike not included.'  

In a continuation of her statement to Deadline, Ruiz said: 'When Ryan and his production team called about Aviation Gin, they helped me find some humor in the situation. 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.' 

Sean Hunter, the Vancouver, British Columbia, actor and elementary school teacher, who played the 'Peloton Husband,' has said that he is puzzled by the criticism of the ad. 

When the ad first debuted in late November, Hunter told CTV News Thursday that he got ' positive feedback from my friends and family,' as well as from his acting coach.

But, 'Once it went viral, it really turned negative and I was getting a lot of feedback. People would make up additional storylines on what was happening. And they’re all just made up stories. I just didn’t understand why people would do that.'

Hunter said that he has 'big mixed feelings about it, especially with all the negative feedback.' 

Despite this, Hunter has made light of the controversy via his Instagram - pelotonhusband - posting quips about how he should've kept the receipt for the exercise bike, in addition to a screengrab of Ruiz's gin ad and a follow up, in-character image with the caption: 'Still waiting for #pelotonwife to come home... have you seen her?'

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