When quarantine started back in March, I was right there with the rest of the human population wondering if and when life would ever be the same. And, like many, I struggled when the world had to close its doors on all public spaces. Brunch? I would miss out on brunch?! More importantly, though, many fitness fanatics found it challenging to suddenly be told they couldn't go to the gym. Now, I will say I've always been more of a work out at home with YouTube videos person than someone who would pay $150 for a gym membership, but being nervous to leave my house just to go for a run was a struggle in itself.
Enter: the Peloton.
I have no doubt that you've heard of or at least seen one of these around the internet. In a nutshell, a Peloton is a spin bike that lives right in your home and comes with a built-in monitor so you can livestream classes, or take them on demand, whenever you want.
My biggest impulse purchase of quarantine (and probably my life) was one of these bikes, and I'm here to tell you if they're really worth the hype -- and the price tag.
What do you get when you order a Peloton? And more importantly, how much does it cost?
Now, the Peloton brand actually sells two very large pieces of equipment: the Peloton Bike and the Peloton Tread. The Tread is a treadmill with similar bells and whistles as the bike, but for the purpose of this review, I'll only be focusing on the bike.
When you go to the "Shop" page on Peloton's website, you're presented with four different bike options that basically determine how many accessories you get:
As you can see, the first option is only the bike. The second (and the one I opted for) comes with clip-in shoes, headphones and weights. The third adds on a heart rate monitor and a bike mat (I ordered this one on Amazon instead that I really like), and the fourth doubles those things and adds a couple water bottles.
Undoubtedly, the first thing you notice about the above photo is not the various accessories but the price tag. Yes, that is what most of us would consider a Sh*t Load of money. But hear me out: Peloton is really great in that they've partnered with a lending firm that lets you make monthly payments on the bike if you don't want to casually drop $2k on it at once. So, I am paying the $62/month for mine, rather than $2,400 out of pocket.
A caveat: The price of the bike and accessories does not include the membership you also need to pay to have the Peloton interface. That means the streaming on your bike as well as the app on your phone. That payment is $39/month, but you can pause it whenever you want if you'll be traveling or something and won't be using it for a while. So, all in all, I'm paying right around $100/month for this thing. Which, when you think about it, is about the same as a gym or ClassPass membership that I no longer need.
Oh, and the Peloton team will bring the bike right to your house and set it up for you. None of this do-it-yourself IKEA crap.
How does the interface work?
Each Peloton comes equipped with a large monitor attached right to the bike. It connects to your home's WiFi and keeps you logged in so you can track all of your various workouts in on place. At the same time, you'll stay logged in to the app on your phone as it seamlessly integrates your health data post-workout with iPhone Activity tracking or any other fitness tracking app you may use.
On the bike specifically, you can take hundreds (thousands??) of on-demand spin classes whenever you want. These can be anything from low-intensity rides to hip-hop rides; HIIT rides to straight hill-climbing rides. Take a 15-minute class or take a 60-minute class. Choose one with all Britney Spears songs or one with only smooth jazz. There really is something here for everyone, and each instructor brings their own unique flair to their classes.
When you choose a class, it's just like live-streaming a movie on your laptop. The class starts "playing," and you're watching an instructor teach the class just like you would if you were right in a studio with them. One of my worries about doing classes at home was that I wouldn't get that total engulfment feeling of being in a dark spin studio, but after a couple classes I truly don't notice the difference because the large screen is so immersive.
There is also an option to take "live" classes on the bike, which is exactly as it sounds: You can stream live with an instructor (and 5,000 of your closest friends in their own homes) and take a class in real-time with them. This is fun because instructors make a point to call out people who are taking a milestone ride (100th class, etc.) or wish people a happy birthday. All in all, the interface could not be easier to use.
Now, here's what makes up for the semi-hefty-sounding $39/month price tag for the app: You get so much more than just spin classes! Open the app on your phone, log in on your laptop or just use your bike screen without actually riding the bike -- there are oodles of other workouts at your fingertips. I'm talking anything from strength classes to yoga, to meditation and boxing. So even if you're traveling and (obviously) don't have your bike with you, or want to cross-train and not spin constantly, there's plenty more that you can do with the same instructors you will very quickly grow to be obsessed with.
Will I actually use this bike, though?
Trust me, I asked myself the exact same question. Like I mentioned, I've always been a fan of spin classes. But I worried that not being in the dark studio with the music blasting and the energy of 50 other people around me to feed off of, it would fall short. But in all honesty, it really doesn't. The instructors are world-class, the playlists are always amazing and, if anything, it's actually really nice being in my home where I need zero travel time to and from a studio and can start/stop on my own time.
You know the feeling when you're in the middle of a brutal spin class, and the music is bumping and you're powering through an insane climb and the perfect song comes on and the instructor somehow convinces you to keep going, and you're scream-singing along to the music and simultaneously crying? Because spin can be that much of a religious experience? Yea, that's happened to me on my Peloton. Except this time I was alone in my house so no one actually saw me cry. Shoutout to Kendall Toole for that one.
I've had my bike for about a month and a half now, and I have yet to get sick of it. I try to use it three to four times a week, but the best part is that if I just don't feel like doing a workout one day or plans change, I'm not wasting money by ditching my studio class. Because there's always tonight. Or tomorrow. Or literally whenever. I know people who have had a Peloton for upwards of three years (yes, they've been around for that long!) and still say the same thing.
Plus, I find it's easier for me to stick it out in a workout when I'm in the middle of a class physically attached to my bike, versus if I'm doing a particularly hard HIIT workout on the floor I'll be tempted to just stop halfway through.
If you've been curious about the bike and you can swing the monthly payments, do it. Peloton even has a 30-day return policy, so if you get it and really don't like it, they'll come pick it up. But I'd be willing to bet all the "yes boo"s in Cody Rigsby's classes that you won't regret it.