I tried Peloton’s spin bike ahead of its Australian launch this week. The cult-like branding is a little much – but it definitely got me moving.

Peloton has finally landed in Australia.
  • Peloton launches in Australia on Wednesday, with its bike range now available for sale online.
  • The luxury exercise brand has amassed 5.4 million dedicated users globally across the US, Canada, the UK and Germany, with a view to adding plenty of Australians to the Peloton community.
  • Business Insider Australia trialled the brand’s Bike+ to see whether it lived up to the hype.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Premium fitness brand Peloton is launching Down Under, with an eye to adding Australian followers to the global fanbase it has cultivated overseas.

It has already converted Hugh Jackman to the flock, who has his bike set up in New York. So too rides Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar and Afterpay America CEO Nick Molnar, who smuggled their own bikes in from Peloton’s other jurisdictions.

They join the likes of President Joe Biden and Justin Bieber who all ride as part of the “one Peloton”, which features 5.4 million members and counting. There’s even a Beyonce collaboration.

Ahead of its local launch on Wednesday, Business Insider Australia took the Peloton Bike+ for a spin to see what all the hype is about.

40 instructors, “one Peloton”

The sleek black stationary bike looks every bit the centrepiece of a global exercise cult, even in the corner of my already cramped apartment. It arrived in the midst of Sydney’s lockdown – making my living room the only exercise studio in the city that NSW Health hasn’t shut down yet.

Sitting in the saddle, I stare into a 23-inch screen that forms the nexus of the Peloton universe, connecting the community to its 40 instructors, the figureheads of a religion.

In loud, mostly American voices, they urge me on through their classes. I’m told to cycle harder and to push through the pain, by trainers who have become celebrities in their own right.

Alex Touissant is a motivational speaker disguised as a spin instructor. He yells that I need to “tap into my greatness” as a Lil Wayne track plays in the background.

Just as often as they push, the instructors evangelise. They tell me to remember who I’m doing this for, to find my light, my centre, my why. To remember where I’ve been and where I’m going. To honour my ancestors, one Rosalía song at a time.

The gospel they read from tends towards the inspirational. To a soundtrack of EDM and 80s hits, they say I’m here because I’m meant to be. I’ve been through worse, I’m a fighter.

Mostly though, I’m just sweaty and panting, as we climb another ‘hill’ or go into another sprint.

But for all the rhetorical excesses and verbal flourishes, it is genuinely enjoyable. As often as I’m exalted by these virtual strangers, I’m also entertained and – just as importantly – distracted.

Some diverge so far from the script, it’s comical. Cody Rigsby is an outgoing young man who calls everyone ‘boo’, recounts episodes from his life and critiques the “Fast and the Furious” franchise between intervals.

Brit Bradley Rose waxes lyrical about the ‘majesty’ of Snoop Dogg and dances incessantly to every pop song he handpicks – as we all crank up the resistance dial once more.

Another, Denis Morton, ventures into the philosophical, self-actualising on the bike to a Major Lazer remix. He signs off each class by telling us, “be good and if you can’t be good, be careful.”

While the line has its origins in 11th century Latin, it sounds like it could have easily been ripped from Top Gun. I find myself laughing, and that makes me forget the pain in my legs.

Others like Ally Love and self-described ‘hype girl’ Olivia Amato are hard not to like. They earnestly spur me on to come back for another 30-minute class, having just steered me through another one.

This zany, sometimes bizarre, group of people make me want to get back on the bike, if only to see what they have in store.

So too does the digital leaderboard which ranks me against others in the “community”. Two versions, live and historical, show how I measure up to 20 or 20,000 others who have done the same class as I have.

A shifting personal record slot shows how this session compares to how I’ve performed in a similar one, essentially racing myself.

Sating my competitive streak, I try with great difficulty to come in at the top of the class, racing riders from New York, Manchester, Denver and Frankfurt. Many have hashtags and cliques I don’t really understand. Some are #PelotonMums, others are linked by their city, or have survived a degenerative disease. Many give me a high five as we pass, virtually and at speed.

I give one back as instructors call out the handles and class stats of riders, encouraging them on to bigger and better results. In every class, someone is celebrated for completing their 300th class, their 700th, their 1,500th.

Plenty of them have bought into the ideas of connectedness and unity espoused by the brand, even if it is only via an online exercise class and a set of shiny pedals.

Peloton will motivate you from your living room

With the most basic model of the bike starting at $2,895, coupled with a recurring $59 monthly membership fee, Peloton is certainly not for everyone. With the fees giving you access to the actual classes, you’re basically locked into an ongoing subscription, unless you want to be stuck with what is otherwise a very chic but extremely pricey stationary bike.

The Bike+ meanwhile costs $3,600, coming with a swivel screen that gives you access to a host of yoga, strength, stretch and meditation classes.

On days I don’t want to cycle, I can Shavasana on a yoga mat instead. While instructors aren’t going to correct my stance, I don’t have to commute, wear a mask, or embarrass myself as I lose my balance mid-class.

While it doesn’t come cheap, country manager Karen Lawson insists its worth it, pointing to the fact users participate in 26 classes every month on average.

“If you average that out it works out to be $2.50 a class, which is just phenomenal. If you get other people in your home using it, that goes even lower.”

Nor do you necessarily have to get the bike to join the club. As the brand comes to Australia, there’s clearly a greater emphasis on the Peloton app, which is free for 90 days. At $16.99 a month thereafter, Lawson likens it to Netflix that gets you moving, running members through video classes they can do from their home or local park.

Coming as it does, when even Peloton’s first two showrooms are shut due to Sydney’s latest outbreak, the app at least isn’t subject to any health restrictions. The bikes, meanwhile, can still be ordered online from Wednesday, with delivery times slated for two to four weeks.

It’s pretty clear that the brand and its instructors will find an automatic following in Australia, given we are a well-paid, English-speaking population which doesn’t shirk at spending on their health.

For those who don’t want to leave the house, face the winter weather, or get themselves to normal spin classes, I can clearly see the appeal of the brand, even when it makes me laugh.

While expensive, the price tag gets you more than just another bike. It buys you a whole suite of classes to get you moving, and cuts out gyms at a time many people either can’t or would prefer not to visit them.

For someone in need of motivation, the instructors will keep you coming back no matter your reasons. Even if you never interact directly with them, they might just keep you accountable. From your living room, no less.