It took the US by storm and has now launched in Australia, but is the Peloton interactive home fitness platform all it is supposed to be?
Peloton – the interactive home fitness platform that has taken the US by storm – has just launched in Australia, but is it all it could be and does it make you as hard as a gym?
I recently had the chance to try it out and my short answer is … absolutely yes.
I thought I was going to get an exercise bike, but I didn’t know I was getting an entire gym – with 5.4 million members in its global community.
When the helpful delivery staff unpacked the top model Peloton Bike + for me, with its 24-inch HD touchscreen on the spinning wheel that can be rotated 360 degrees and the high-fidelity sound system with four speakers, I quickly realized that this was the way it was much more than what I’d seen from my American friends on Instagram.
A quick scroll through the course options let me realize that this wasn’t just a spinning wheel that I might use once a week – it was an entire gym with thousands of instructor-led classes ranging from 5 minutes to 90 minutes, the biking, running , Strength training, yoga, meditation, cardio, stretching, boot camp, walking and outdoor.
But I was skeptical of how hard I could really work from the comfort of my home without a teacher yelling in my face who held me accountable, the motivation of a class full of people working next to me and a dedicated class schedule that it would force me to get out of bed and keep my booking.
I had trained at home with F45 during the Covid lockdown in 2020, but like many others I developed a “Covid coat” (extra weight) because the training sessions weren’t that strenuous. Surely that would be the same as what I thought?
I couldn’t wait to try it out so I jumped on the bike for my first spin class.
As someone who has been spin for years and still trains with F45 most days, I have relatively high expectations for my fitness level.
“I smoke these lazy workouts for at home,” I thought smugly as the 30-minute live class began with 1,600 participants.
It quickly became clear that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, as the lively instructor – who loves to groove to the tunes while keeping her bike at an extraordinary pace – asked us to increase this resistance.
So here I am, panting loudly like an 80-year-old as I struggle under resistance to keep up the pace when ‘SpinningAmy’ from Massachusetts sneaks behind me on the live leaderboard and we begin a battle for 800th place .
Yes, even though I was a fitness snob in the beginning, I was actually the one who smoked.
The folks in front of me on the leaderboard – who calculated points based on your key metrics like cadence (speed), resistance, and power (exertion) – have racked up some insane numbers.
The person who ended up being number 1 in the class had about 500 points, while here I languished in the midfield with 220.
Anyway, SpinningAmy and I are fighting for the last 10 minutes.
I jump over her during a particularly hard exertion outside of the saddle and the next thing I do is get a high five from her on my screen.
Nice confirmation I thought and gave her a high five back.
She’ll overtake me in the saddle during the next sprint, so I’ll give her a ‘congratulations’ high-five and she’ll send one back.
I finish the lesson gasping, legs burning after working a lot harder than I would have done in the studio (quit # 794 and just hit SpinningAmy).
Well that was humiliating.
In another class – this time on call, so active in the class when it starts at 16 – I fight with Cynthia from Minneapolis for fifth place with less than one point between us.
That’s one of the things I love about Peloton.
Unlike many home workouts that are lonely, isolating, and reliant on your own progress, you hold Peloton’s “virtual community” and immersive “studio-style” workouts accountable and more challenging.
It is difficult.
There’s nowhere to hide.
Take a second and you’ll crash the leaderboard.
It picks up on your competition page – something that is very difficult for me to turn off, even if I start training with the intent “just to get it done, don’t worry about the leaderboard”.
The strength classes are another personal favorite.
Pan around the screen, roll out your mat, and work out those muscles with weights or resistance bands, while off-bike cardio options include HIIT and dance.
Another favorite is the “Bike Bootcamp” – a combination class that includes phases on the bike and phases on the mat with weights. A perfect full body combination.
My husband even did a 20 minute arm workout while I cooked dinner.
I could hear the teacher say, “This is going to be hot,” and for the next minute I hear my husband straining and grunting as he does shoulder repetitions that are actually “hot”.
All over 30 teachers are great.
Most of them are based in Peloton’s New York studio, they are lively, motivating and organize courses on the music of the best global artists.
I especially liked a ‘2000s’ cycle course with teacher Kendall Toole who had great throwback songs from Fall Out Boy, Panic! In the disco, Blink 182 and Paramore.
I haven’t found a teacher yet that I don’t like.
Robin Arzon gave me a greeting in a live class.
“Hello TanyaLF and welcome to all of our Australian members,” she said.
That was the thrill of getting called out in a group of over 2000.
There’s probably only one teacher I won’t be returning to another class with anytime soon … just because she kicked my ass.
The ease of walking down the stairs and completing a quick 20 minute class makes the comfort of Peloton unrivaled.
If I don’t get up when my alarm goes off at 4:07 a.m., I’ve missed my opportunity to do an F45 workout for the day.
But with Peloton, I can slumber that alarm clock for another hour and still do a heartbreaking 30-minute cycle class and yoga home before work.
I can see Peloton would be especially handy for busy parents – do a quick 20 minute workout while the baby sleeps, rather than worrying about care at a set time to run to the gym for an hour.
The only current downside is that most of the live classes are based on NYC wake times, which means that unless you want to hop on your bike at 1.30pm, the options for taking live classes are somewhat limited.
Even so, there are some options a few times a week and Peloton’s Australian manager Karen Lawson tells me that the recruitment of “fun and charismatic” Australian instructors is underway, with plans for more classes in our time zone.
So do I rate Peloton?
The on-demand library with thousands of immersive courses and the great variety are unparalleled.
I was even more grateful to have the bike when southeast Queensland was thrown into an eight day lockdown as Delta expanded.
My workouts never missed a beat, in fact my body hurt and my legs felt firmer after a few weeks.
Over a three-month period this year, Peloton’s 5.4 million members completed a whopping 171 million training sessions.
In a record breaking class during Covid, 23,000 members drove live.
Founded in NYC in 2012, Peloton has spread to the UK, Canada and Germany over the past three years and has now launched in Australia.
It is addictive.
I step out of a 20-minute bike ride and stream a 20-minute strength lesson, followed by a 10-minute core blast and a 15-minute restorative yoga class.
I am now seriously considering investing in a peloton bike myself.
And it’s an investment.
The Peloton Bike and Bike + is priced at $ 2,895 and $ 3,695, respectively, and requires an ongoing all-access membership of $ 59 per month, which gives access to all content and creates accounts for the entire household.
But if you have the money, investing in comfort is well worth it.
For those who want the on-demand courses without the expense of the Peloton bike, the Peloton app is much cheaper at $ 16.99 per month.
For this test, the author was given a Peloton Bike + for testing.
Originally posted as Is the Peloton Global Phenomenon Worth Canceling Your Gym Membership?