- Data from last year suggestsPeloton has surpassed the spin giant SoulCycle in customers.
- The $US1,995 bike is equipped with a wifi-enabled touch-screen which allows you to join high-intensity spin classes from home.
- Over the course of two weeks, I put it to the test, taking a 45-minute class every day. And to measure my progress, I did a before and after fitness assessment – which revealed some pretty surprising results.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Benji Jones: This bike costs $US2,000, and it’s taking the cycling world by storm. It’s sold by the company Peloton, which reportedly now has more customers than even the spin giant SoulCycle. But what really sets it apart is convenience. Using a monitor attached to the bike, you can join a spin class from anywhere and, according to the company, get a studio-grade workout. Now, that sounds pretty nice, but is it really worth the hype?
To find out, I took a Peloton bike for a spin. Over the course of two weeks, I did a 45-minute Peloton class every day. And how did it go? Well, let’s just say I’ll probably never be this fit ever again. First things first: To figure out just how good of a workout I’d be getting, I visited the athletic trainer Sean Kuechenmeister before my first class.
Sean Kuechenmeister: You’re going to hopefully establish your baseline level of fitness for biking specifically.
Benji: Sean works at the New York Sports Science Lab in Staten Island, and there he assesses the physical ability of professional athletes. And now me, your more average gym-goer. All right, good to go. We started out by gathering some basic metrics like weight and body fat. Next were some not-so-basic measurements.
I feel like I’m in, like, an ejection seat. That’s an isokinetic extremity machine. It measures the strength of my quads. After that, we tested leg power…
Benji: …mobility, and something called muscle drive.
Sean: So drive would be how much electrical current you’re getting from the brain through those nerves. The muscles are really just kind of like the mindless meat. The nerves are what determines how efficiently the muscles move.
Benji: But the most difficult test of all? A measure of what’s called VO2 max.
Sean: The reason why the VO2 max is so relevant for bikers is that’s a measurement of how well your body’s utilising the oxygen that you’re taking in when you breathe. The better you use the oxygen, the more it’s gonna be transported throughout your body and the more efficiently you’re gonna be able to move and perform whatever exercise it is you’re doing.
Benji: I scored below average in VO2 max, in the 47th percentile, which was kind of a bummer. But overall, I was in pretty good shape, and with the assessment behind me, it was time to ride. This time, fortunately, without a gas mask.
It got off to kind of a rough start because I couldn’t really get on the bike at first. I was just totally not feeling the music, just kind of like oldies or, like, rock. I’m not about to bike out to rock. I ended up joining a prerecorded class, and I thought I was, like, doing really well in the class and then looked and saw that I was in 589th place, I think. To my credit, there were like 2,500 people in this class, and that made me feel pretty average, which is totally fine. My quads are already starting to feel it. I can definitely feel a burn. I did a little bit better today, look at that. 2,136th place out of 10,000. I mean, not terrible!
I was tired almost right from the start, but the days went by quickly, and soon enough I was a week in. I am proud to say that I made it seven days in a row! But I wasn’t exactly seeing much progress. Instead, I was actually feeling some pain. I’m definitely starting to feel a little bit of pain in my right knee. You know, to be honest, all of my stats look exactly the same today as they did my first ride. I was burning a little over 500 calories a class, no matter how exhausted I felt at the finish line, but I wasn’t about to quit, especially since Sean had predicted some pretty rad results I could look forward to.
Sean: I think if you’re gonna lose fat and then potentially burn into some muscle, I think we may see you go from 143 maybe to about 141, 140, um, but I do expect your endurance to go up, and I do expect this number with your VO2 max to go from fair to good.
Benji: For my eighth ride, I switched it up. Instead of riding at home, I went to the Peloton studio in Manhattan where the classes are filmed. I was curious if I would push myself harder in front of an instructor and in the presence of what seems to be some of New York City’s most fit and attractive.
It was a good time. It’s the day before Valentine’s Day, so there was lots of breakup songs, which was great. But as it turns out, all bikes are calibrated differently, so my readout on my bike in the studio was super different than the bike that I have at home. There was probably like a 200-calorie difference. So I did push myself harder in the studio. My average heart rate was 10% higher than it was at home, but according to the display on my studio bike, my output and calorie count was my lowest yet. So fair warning, the calorie counters might be different if you don’t use the same bike every time. As I reached the middle of the second week, my output was finally starting to improve.
I feel pretty good. Losing body fat, feeling like my legs are probably like a thousand times stronger. Hopefully that’s the case. I also broke 600 calories in one ride today, which means that I’m getting better in the, like, on my journey to strength on the bike. Wait, journey to strength? Side note: If I had any critique of Peloton as I neared the end, it’s not the quality of the workout…
Instructor: If something came up for you in the form of energy
Benji: It’s the language the instructors use to motivate you. It might be a personal thing, but it just feels so inauthentic. This is an exercise class, not therapy. Anyway. A few days later came the moment I was waiting for. The end! Woo! 14 classes! Yeah, it feels really good to be done, probably ’cause of meeting my goal of doing this, partly because I am so excited to not feel so exhausted and not have to bike every day. Not that it hasn’t been rewarding, it’s just obviously too much to do this every single day.
Let’s see, 14 workouts, 10 1/2 hours, 194 miles, 7,745 calories, that was the best output I’ve gotten so far. I also broke 600 calories in one ride today, which means that I’m getting better, and you can see that I kind of started out really strong and then kind of took a dip and then started working up again. The next day, I returned to the lab for my follow-up assessment.
Sean: Your initial measurement, you were 143.5. You’re 142 today along with that point zero, but your lean body mass, which is your muscle, your bone, you know, the connected tissue, first time was 125.2. Second time, it’s 125.4, so you lost nothing but fat. You maintained your muscle. In fact, you gained 0.2 pounds of muscle during all of that.
Benji: Interestingly, all that new muscle I’d gained ended up in just one spot: my left leg. Remember that pain I was talking about in my right knee? Well, I adapted by relying more on my left to pedal, building muscle there as a result. Everywhere else in my body, I actually lost muscle weight.
Sean: You lost weight in the trunk. You lost weight in your left arm, and you lost weight in your right arm.
Benji: And that’s because I was only doing one type of activity every day. But the biggest change was in my VO2 max.
Trainer: So this was his initial, and this is his new one where he’s ranked only 79% now.
Camera operator: That is incredible!
Sean: 47 to 79.
Benji: So I’m, like, better than most people?
Sean: Yes. You went from worse than most people to a lot better than most people.
Benji: Wow. That’s amazing, wow! OK, so more muscle in my left leg, less everywhere else, and much greater endurance. What about strength?
Sean: You actually lost power. You increased in your strength in terms of your endurance, as far as aerobic capacity, but as far as anaerobic, the system of our body that uses more sugar, uses glycogen, what we use to produce power and strength, you actually decreased in that.
Benji: And in terms of just, like, trying to understand these numbers, for two weeks, like are these pretty big changes?
Sean: Oh yeah, for sure, for sure. I think most, most doctors will recommend that about a pound to a pound and a quarter of fat per month is a healthy rate to be losing fat, so you’re actually well ahead of that, so I think if you were to continue this, you would probably – you’d lose more fat, you might gain some more muscle, but eventually there would be a point of diminishing returns where we’d need to change something up in the routine.
Benji: Got it, OK.
Sean: This was good for a two-week challenge, but I think it’s not very long-term sustainable.
Benji: OK. And that’s a good thing because the thought of biking right now, well, it’s kind of terrible. But should I ever need to lose weight again and stumble upon a mountain of cash, I’m confident that two weeks of intense cycling like this will totally do the trick.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published on March 29, 2019.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.