- Home-exercise company Peloton is known for its luxury exercise bikes, cult-like following, and heavily hyped journey to the public markets.
- In addition to the bike or treadmill, consumers can exercise with Peloton through its app, which requires a $US19.49 monthly subscription.
- I signed up for a free trial of Peloton’s app and tried three of its virtual classes: a bodyweight strength workout, an outdoor run, and a short office meditation session.
- I was hooked from the first class, which was fun, challenging, and personalised. The incredible variety and personalisation that the Peloton app offers convinced me that apps like it are the future of home fitness.
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Like many of us, I work out… sometimes.
I often have trouble finding the time and energy to haul my butt to a gym or a class. I’m bad at running. And I’ve never really tried working out at home by myself because I wouldn’t know where to start.
Workout videos have come a long way since ’80s jazzercise with Jane Fonda. Now there’s Mirror, the $US1,500 mirror that guides you through futuristic augmented-reality workouts; the Nike app with celeb instructors like Kayla Itsines; and, of course, the exercise machines and app from luxury home-exercise company Peloton, which made its debut as a public company at the end of September. Though Peloton has gotten a lot of hype for its dedicated cult following of hip, young people, it stumbled after its IPO, registering one of the worst trading debuts for a mega-IPO since the recession.
Its exercise bikes cost upwards of $US2,200 and its treadmills upwards of $US4,200 – and that’s not including a monthly membership fee of $US39. But Peloton’s app, which was released in 2018, costs $US19.49 a month and grants users access to all virtual and live classes on iOS, Android, and the web.
Peloton said in its S-1 filing before its IPO that it had 120,000 digital subscribers as of the end of June. It also shared that its fastest growing customer segments are people under the age of 35 and those with household incomes under $US75,000.
Classes available through the app subscription include workouts using exercise equipment, outdoor workouts, and bodyweight workouts you can do from the comfort of your home.
I decided to give the Peloton app a spin by trying three of its virtual classes, and it convinced me that it’s the future of home fitness.
I downloaded the Peloton app and created an account.
The app is subscription-based but offers a 14-day free trial. You also have the option to link the app with the iPhone’s Health app in order to track workout details.
The app offers a variety of classes, including running, cycling, yoga, and strength. I chose a 20-minute bodyweight strength workout with instructor Rebecca Kennedy.
There’s a set list for every class, and you have the option to preload classes in order to avoid buffering time. This class called for a workout mat, but since I don’t own one, I just used my bedroom rug.
Rebecca appeared on the screen with a timer in the upper left corner and a list of all the virtual participants at the bottom. I was ready to get sweaty.
We started out with some light stretching to prepare our bodies for the real workout. Rebecca was charismatic, encouraging, and very clear in her instructions. Virtual classes are recordings of recent classes at Peloton’s Manhattan gym and are, at most, a week old.
At first, I had a hard time figuring out how to attempt the movements on my own while keeping an eye on my tiny phone screen. This was when I realised that a larger screen was probably ideal.
But once I got into the swing of things, I was surprised by how fun, yet effective, the workout was. It followed a typical high-intensity interval pattern. We did three sets of each workout with breaks in between and a longer break at the halfway point.
The class felt surprisingly personal for a virtual experience. Rebecca asked one of her students if she was a mum and demonstrated the exercise we were doing as if she were playing with kids.
The workout was never too hard and never too easy because Rebecca introduced ways to tailor the workout to our desired difficulty level. She was also so effortlessly cool and charismatic that you felt like she was your friend.
At the end of the workout, the app asked me if I liked the class and to rate its difficulty. You also get a calorie count if you’ve synced with your Health app, and you can earn an achievement.
After my workout, I dug around the app a little more and found that Peloton allows you to join live classes on their class schedule. There are also various training programs tailored to different fitness goals and workout styles.
The next day, I went for a mid-afternoon run. I’m not a runner, and the longest I’ve ever run continuously was one mile. However, I’m always up for a challenge.
I chose a 20-minute hip-hop fun run with instructor Robin Arzon. Again, there was a set list. The app would track my pace, distance, elevation gain, and calories burned over the course of my run.
After a couple of light stretches, I set off on a light jog. Robin explained the run’s structure before the workout started: we’d alternate between jogging rest periods and challenging intervals of 20-30 seconds. She encouraged us to push ourselves, but also to go at the pace we needed.
The intensity intervals were timed to songs like “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B and “Doo-Wop” by Lauryn Hill. I liked that someone else was dictating my run for me because I’m pretty bad at setting intervals for myself. I appreciated that Robin encouraged us to sustain a pace that felt good.
It was a clear, beautiful day in New York’s Financial District, and I was happy that this workout took me through a gorgeous part of the city. Robin said the right things at the right time to help keep me motivated. Like Rebecca, she was effortlessly cool and charismatic, encouraging, and fun.
Again, I’m not a runner. I don’t usually enjoy running. But although the run was challenging, it was always fun and I always felt good.
“You’re proud of you, I’m proud of you,” Robin cheered near the end. And I realised that indeed, I was proud of me.
At the end of the run I checked my stats. I had run for 20 straight minutes and two straight miles, which is longer than I’ve ever run before. This felt like an exhilarating accomplishment. I spent the rest of the day walking around with a euphoric glow.
For my last class, I decided to go for one of Peloton’s meditation classes. I sometimes meditate using Buddhist chants and techniques my grandparents taught me. But Peloton had a variety of meditation classes for different purposes and settings, all five to 10 minutes long. I chose a 10-minute office meditation.
I found an empty one-person room in the office and settled in. However, the office meditation class is designed so that you can do it at your desk.
Instructor Kristen McGee talked in a calming, ASMR-like voice throughout the class while New Age music played in the background. She reminded us to sit tall, lengthen our spines, relax our bellies, shoulders, and jaws, and to unfurrow our eyebrows. It was like she knew what needed to be loosened.
She told us to focus on our breath by thinking “inhale” every time we inhaled and “exhale” every time we exhaled. Every so often, she’d remind us to come back to our breath if our thoughts wandered.
It felt good, but my mind kept wandering, possibly because she talked throughout the class. I’ve had better meditation sessions, but this one definitely served its purpose. Out of the three classes I took, this one impressed me the least.
Peloton’s classes offer enough variety to cater to a wide audience while making its programs personalised.
The app also solves the problem of finding time and motivation by offering a range of class lengths, from five-minute stretches and meditations to hour-long workouts. The classes are built to accommodate all levels, and the fact that they’re recorded live each week makes them feel fresh and relevant.
Most importantly, the workouts are fun and easy to follow. The instructors are larger-than-life, influencer-like figures, but the way they talk makes you feel like they’re part of your squad.
Exercising with Peloton, it’s hard not to feel like part of a community even if you’re alone in your room or on the street. The classes made me feel validated, important, and good enough, without the inconvenience of actual human interaction. And isn’t that what we all want these days?
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