Please Note: I was provided a media loaner of the Peloton bike and subscription so that I could test out the system. This is 100% my honest review of the product and these views are completely my own.
I have a confession to make. I love a good workout and I’ve really never liked spinning. Despite the now ubiquitousness of spin studios (and I’ve tried them all) I didn’t get the weird choreography that was done in most classes. The awkward moving back and forth or up and down on a bike that seemed relatively pointless other than to prove how coordinated the instructor was (and regularly put the fear of impaling myself on a handlebar into my mind). The quasi-spiritual component some studios try to inject into the end of a class where we’ve been yelled at by an instructor for at least 45 minutes. Don’t get it. Didn’t love it. So I figured maybe that spinning just wasn’t for me.
Until I tried Peloton.
Yes, you know. Peloton. The at-home spinning and all around digital fitness system that you’ve been hearing and seeing all about. Often with the bike pictured in a home with some sort of majestic vista to be viewed outside the window. (Well, a lot more majestic than whatever the view from my home offers, that’s for sure.)
So what is it exactly? A bike? A fitness system? A cult? (nope) A lifestyle? Let me break it down for you. Peloton does indeed offer a bike with a tablet screen facing the user. Through this you can join in a live spinning class or one of thousands (seriously) of banked classes with a whole range of instructors that are fun, highly qualified and knowledgable. On top of that, with your digital subscription - because you need to have that at $49 CAD/month to really get the full benefit) there are also tons of strength, yoga, meditation, cardio and other fitness classes you can stream on your computer, smart phone or TV. (Also - if you want just the digital classes minus the bike it’s about $20/month.)
Is it on the costlier side of the spectrum? Sure it is. In some ways. But not more so than taking regular classes at any sort of fitness studio, so really do that math. The upfront cost can be bigger because you will also need accessories like shoes (because you need to clip in) and weights, but now Peloton offers free in-home trials and financing that makes it way easier to get started from a dollars and cents point of view. This system isn’t for the person looking for the cheapest fitness option. But if you’re already paying studio prices anyway, it’s totally something to consider.
So what makes Peloton worth it, in my humble (though certified fitness professional) opinion?
Look, I used to be one of those people that was out running in nasty, way sub-zero weather. In the dark, at 6 am. On Christmas Day, New Year’s Day. Whatever. (Mind you, I take holidays off now. Because I deserve them. But that’s a story for another day.) The point is, I was out there, skidding around on the ice, falling sometimes, running by myself in the dark and not always feeling so safe. Sure, running was convenient. But the circumstances in which I ran definitely weren’t always. I’m not so interested in doing all of that anymore. Not to mention, I now have a child, so I simply can’t go and work out whenever I want. Sometimes it’s just me and him. Even when I had a condo gym, it was still only open certain hours and I couldn’t leave my son to go there or bring him with me. Now, I get to do a great, challenging class of any length I want, WHENEVER I want and I love it. (Can you tell I’m a control freak?) Seriously - as a parent, as someone that works unconventional hours as a woman that sometimes feels unsafe running by myself outside when it’s dark and early, this has been a game-changer for me. None of those things are barriers to me getting my sweat on now.
QUALITY AND VARIETY
Let’s start with the bike. It looks good, is well-made (I’ve had zero issues with the equipment in months) and connectivity (because it requires wifi) has been totally reliable at my house. The bike itself takes up a footprint of about 0.6 m by 1.2 m (2 ft. by 4 ft.) so it’s smaller than a lot of at home workout equipment options. From a functionality standpoint, the measurement of cadence (speed), resistance, and output (the combo of the two) have been reliable. And then there is the quality of the classes and the instructors. You may be able to stream free classes online elsewhere, but I have never found anything that provides the level of certified instructors that Peloton does that ensures a quality workout. Moreover, the of types of classes available means that you can cross train - which is the key to real fitness. And remember all that weird choreography that I don’t like in spinning classes? If you do like it, take a groove ride. But for the most part, Peloton classes focus on things like HIIT intervals - whether it’s resistance or speed. Which is WAY more effective in my opinion. If you’re not there yet, take a beginner ride and adjust as needed.
ACCOUNTABILITY AND FUN
Do these things go together? You bet. For me, the fact that I can see all the metrics of my workout is a huge win. It’s the closest thing I get to video games in my life. And because I can follow friends that also use the system (and have had a few buy into the bike and subscription since I started sharing my love of Peloton with the world) we can take classes together and compete (which can be even more motivating). Not only does that push me to work harder, but it makes it more fun. And speaking of fun - my experience with the Peloton instructors has been pretty amazing. Whether it’s intervals and arms, a live DJ class or a 20 minute HIIT it, quit it, say we did it kind of thing - I try to take classes from a range of them on a regular basis, but my favourites are definitely Cody Rigsby and Peloton VP and Head Instructor Robin Arazon. There is no bad mood that cannot be cured by taking a class with these two. Ultimately, I found that I got a more effective workout and saw better results than I would with my previous cardio routines for two reasons 1) because I was being pushed to do better by the instructors and my visible metrics and 2) the Peloton classes that I usually take have built in intervals, and intervals really are the key to boosting fitness when it comes to cardio.
SO IS THERE A DOWNSIDE?
My only real complaint is that there isn’t a pause button, which there really should be for the banked (not live) classes. At this point it doesn’t exist and there have been a few instances where the doorbell goes or my son needs something and I have no choice but to miss some of the workout and mess up my metrics. And yes yes, it’s expensive. But again - this is for someone that is looking for high quality equipment and instructors, and not something totally DIY. But even then, like I said, financing makes it more possible so that’s even less of a concern. If you’re already paying $30 - $50/class for studio fitness, this is more affordable and convenient in so many ways.