One of the hottest fitness trends right now is streaming workouts at home. Leading the pack is Peloton, with its coveted stationary bikes and treadmills featuring large screens that let you do classes live or on demand anywhere, anytime.
As an avid indoor cyclist and cycle instructor, I was curious. I’m a competitive person who thrives on the energy of a dark cycle studio filled with loud music and sweaty bodies, so I wondered how a virtual class at home alone would work for me. Then Santa (aka my husband) surprised me with a shiny new Peloton bike for Christmas, and I was able to put it to the test — a lot! A couple of months later, although some of the shine has worn off, my bike hasn’t turned into a place to pile laundry. In fact, I use it pretty regularly, but I’ll be the first to admit that there are both pros and cons to this new wave of workouts.
My life, like most people’s, is pretty hectic and often unpredictable. There are days when I can’t make it to my favorite cycle class. Being able to jump on the bike and take a class anytime I want eliminates the frustration (and the excuses) of not getting a workout in. Plus, Peloton offers a variety of class lengths, so even if I have only 30 minutes I can squeeze my exercise in.
Peloton also offers a wide variety of formats, from Tabata or HIIT-style classes to endurance, hills, and speed drills. You never have to take the same ride twice — or you can find one you really like and put it on repeat. I find the choices especially helpful when I am training for an outdoor event when I know there are going to be lots of hills; I can take the classes designed to help build strength and endurance. You can also choose a class by instructor or music genre. Those are both biggies for me.
As a cycle instructor, I like to practice drills and run through my playlist, cuing, timing, etc. prior to each class I teach in order to deliver the best performance for my riders. Rather than driving to the gym and waiting for the cycle studio to empty, I can practice at home as often as I need to, which has turned out to be really useful — and I get ideas for challenges, music, and phrasing from some of the Peloton instructors.
As an outdoor rider, I appreciate the fact that when I am training for an event, I no longer have to skip a ride if it’s cold or rainy. There is a scenic ride feature that, though the graphics are a little hokey, simulates an outdoor ride with changing terrain. Not quite the same as hitting the road, but it is a decent alternative.
Working out at home is convenient, but there are plenty of distractions. When I enter a cycle studio, my mindset is that I am there for the duration — I’m fully present. I’m not going to take a phone call, and there aren’t usually people walking in and out or coming up and asking me questions midride. At home that may not be the case. I can hear the dryer buzz or the doorbell ring, and my kids or husband will come up and start talking to me. We’re working on that!
I like a dark room, loud music, and people around me. Peloton rides have a leaderboard and a virtual community on social media platforms, but it really isn’t the same thing. Even if you take a class with a friend at the same time — it’s not the same as having her there with you. Whether I’m teaching or taking a class, my adrenaline starts flowing the minute I enter a cycle studio. At home, it takes me a good two or three tracks to really start to get in the zone — but once I’m there, I’m there.
I work out hard, and by the end of a 45-minute ride I am dripping sweat onto the floor of my home office. I realized quickly that I needed to put a mat under the bike and open some windows, but the room still smells a bit sweaty some days. I’ve started lighting scented candles while I ride.
The Bottom Line
I love my Peloton and think it is absolutely worth the $2,245 investment for the bike, plus $39 per month for the membership to stream unlimited classes — especially when it comes to preparing to teach classes. I’ve found some instructors whom I follow regularly, and I look forward to their rides. Getting motivated at home is a little harder, but it’s not something that keeps me from my workout.
But if you’re not sure, you can get a digital subscription for $19.50 per month and ride at your gym or anywhere else you have access to a stationary bike.