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You just need few minutes and a stationary bike, but is it worth it?

Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD
February 13, 2018

When Cooking Light approached me about trying out Peloton’s workouts, my response was immediately “yes!”. I’m always game for a new workout, but I also assumed this meant a Peloton bike would be delivered to my house.

Peloton bikes are state-of-the-art spinning bikes designed for home use that have been on the market for a few years now. The bike looks similar to a spin bike at a gym or studio, except it features a touch-screen (and sweat-proof) console that connects you with live classes, as well as a library of on-demand classes. The rider has direct interaction with the live classes and instructors and gives stats on distance, resistance, heart rate and calories. Basically, the bike is amazing—but it also has a hefty price tag of around $2000.

I quickly learned that a Peloton bike wouldn’t be arriving on my doorstep, but I would be given access to the new Peloton app, which streams the same live classes that the bike owners have, as well as the on-demand library. Trying out the Peloton app for a few weeks seemed like a great way to stay accountable with exercise, and on-demand workouts meant that I could do them whenever, wherever.

Exercise has always been a regular part of my life, and I’m known to bounce around among various workouts to keep things challenging and fun, including spinning from time to time. When I travel, I love to try out classes at spin studios that I don’t normally have access to, like Flywheel and SoulCycle. In my experience, I’ve found that spin classes tend to go one of two ways: they’re either engaging and challenging, or they’re a struggle to get through (more mentally than physically).

I’ve also found that the instructor and music selection are what separate great classes from “meh” classes. There’s nothing more frustrating than when my limited time to exercise is taken up by a workout that’s not engaging, challenging, or motivating, and I was skeptical about an app-based workout class being any of those.

But my assignment was to try out the Peloton app for at least two weeks, so I headed to the gym with my iPad, and after using the app for several weeks, here’s what I found.

Variety and Flexibility

After downloading the app, I set up an account and started checking out the features. I was pleasantly surprised—even a little blown away—at the options that I had to pick from. Not only could I pick any time length for a class from 5 minutes to 120 minutes, but I had various options for the class type like Beginner, Low Impact, Live DJ, Metrics, Climb, Intervals, Heart Rate Zone, and Pro Cyclist. And the options didn’t stop there—I could even pick from nine different music genres and over twenty instructors. 

Quality of Classes

 I ended up completing twelve classes over a four-week period, and the workouts were no joke (a positive in my book). My heart rate, exertion and sweat were essentially the same that I got from an actual spin class. I loved that I could choose a ride that incorporated small weights, a strenuous climb when I was feeling an ambitious, or more leisurely ride when my energy was dragging. To say that I was surprised and impressed with most of the workouts would be an understatement—I never expected this level of workout from an app.  

Instructor Engagement

The Peloton instructors interaction and engagement are what makes these workouts, and I found myself feeling like I was actually in a real class with them. Instructors aren’t shy with their personalities—which I loved for the entertainment and engagement factors—and I found myself listening for not only their direction on what to do next, but also for their witty, sometimes tough-love, one-liners. Here are some of my favorites that I wrote down after my rides.  

Get a towel, get some water, get your life together! - Cody

This 2x4 space is your kingdom. Ride like royalty. - Robin

If Britney can get thru 2007, you can get up this damn hill. – Cody

Fix your face, it's not that serious. - Jess

Pressure creates diamonds. I want to see you shine! - Robin

You are bigger than a small pair of pants, but DAMN it feels good when they finally fit. - Christine

You can't buy swagger at Whole Foods. - Robin

Drawbacks

There are honestly not that many—which surprised me because I was so skeptical before trying the Peloton app. However, the ride is up to you. There’s no instructor or trainer to call you out to step up intensity or to notice that you leave early. It’s up to you to push yourself and to finish. Also, app users also don’t have access to data like resistance and heart rate that those “attending” classes on a Peloton bike are able to access. This aspect didn’t really bother me, but might if I decided to become a more frequent rider. However, I found several blogs showing how a home bike could be set up to provide some of this.

Will I Use it Again?

As long as you have access to a stationary bike and an iPhone or iPad, the app is a fairly inexpensive way to work out—especially for those who travel, have changing schedules and can’t commit to a specific class time, or who just like to add in a little variety to workouts. While any bike will work, I’d definitely recommend using one designed for spinning. I ended up using bikes in my gym’s spin studio when it wasn’t in use.   

After the free trial period, I ended up opting for the $12.99 monthly subscription. Even though I don’t plan to use it every day, I love the ability to do an impromptu class when I suddenly find 30 or 45 minutes since the spin classes at my gym rarely work with my schedule. I also got a subscription because I’ve got some travel planned this spring.  While I’m really just happy to get a workout in while on the road, I’d love the ability to get a high-quality one, and the Peloton app seems like a perfect solution.  

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