We did it. We finally bought a Peloton bike, and simultaneously became those people – making sure to flex our expensive fitness machine to our neighbors and Instagram followers alike.
We live in a small one-bedroom apartment in Queens and have maximized our space to the as much as possible. Even while excelling at minimalism and symmetric decor, there was little room left for a stationary bike in the living room. Reducing the space even more was having to fit a mini-office in the corner of our living room so I can work from home. A 4×2 ft. bike was going to cost us some prime real estate.
So what finally cause us to bite the bullet? After having my second knee surgery in June, I knew I wouldn’t be able to run or do Crossfit the same way I used to. I’d have to learn to take it easy. That means more yoga, swimming, or cycling to make sure I don’t look like Patrick Ewing in his final years.
The Peloton bike is expensive. I knew that, of course. My brother had bought one over the summer and couldn’t say enough great things about it. Instagram was filled with friends showing off their new bikes. I felt like I was missing out, but the smart side of me said to myself, “I can workout for free in my living room with an internet connection and a 35 lb. kettlebell.” Why spend that money when sweat is free?
I figured I would at least start by testing the app. At the time I had no idea it was full of other types of exercise classes – cardio, strength, yoga, meditation, and several others – which is exactly what I was looking for. I knew I wasn’t just going to ride the bike every day. That would be incredibly boring. But, the best part about the app and the cornicopia of classes is how it allows you to filter for the amount of time you have – they offer 5 minute stretching classes, 10 minute cycling warmups, 15 minute strength training circuits, or even the dreaded 60-minute yoga flow.
It took the bike just over 5 weeks to arrive. I ordered it at the end of September and it came the first week of November. It was worth the wait. Lauren and I could plan out how we would need to re-arrange our furniture (basically our entire apartment) to fit this new exercise machine. The bike is sleek. It’s matte black with some shades of red. A large iPad-like touchscreen display helps you with set-up, and the family package comes a long with a mat, two pairs of clip-in cycling shoes, heartrate monitors, water bottles, mini weights, and earbuds.
The only initial struggle was figuring out how to adjust the bike and to clip in but after a day or two it became habit. The first few weeks started out with a bang. We did cycling classes in the morning and stretching classes at night. The gamification of the app is what keeps you coming back. Once you see your daily streak on the calendar and start connecting with friends, you don’t want to break the streak. I had a streak going for my first fifteen days because I didn’t want to see an empty space on the calendar. After a few weeks, I fizzled out and needed a couple of days off.
The glorious part about the bike is that it becomes much harder to skip a gym day. The bike is right there. On Sunday, I was hungover and didn’t think I would leave the couch all day. Around 4pm when the football game came on, I figured I could at least hop on the bike and watch as I peddled slowly. Sure enough, twenty minutes later I was soaked in sweat and the floor beneath me was a puddle.
The stats displayed on the screen show your output, resistance, cadence and calories burned. The goal is to get all of those numbers as high as possible. You’re not only competing against the real-time leaderboard on the right hand side, the screen also displays how you are competing against yourself. It will track how you have done in previous classes, and in real-time, show if you are doing better or worse than that performance. It’s a clever way to motivate. You can even follow celebrities with Pelotons, like golfer Rory McIlroy. I’m patiently waiting for Joe Biden’s cabinet would leak his user name…
Is the bike worth it?
The price tag is hefty. The cheaper model alone starts at $1,500 before all of the add-ons. Regardless of the bike you choose you’re looking at an upfront cost of $2,000 (more or less) plus the $40 monthly membership fee to use the app. I understand it’s expensive and not many people are going to want to shell that much of their savings into a stationary bike.
My decision was a toss-up because for that price I could 1) buy a nice road bike that I can actually take outside for less money or 2) join a gym or boutique fitness class for much less per month.
My reasoning was this: Lauren and I have different schedules. She commutes by car 45 minutes to and from work each day, while I work from home. The bike/app allows us to either workout together or split time when we can use the bike. I just came off of my second knee surgery, and Lauren tends to get back pain flare-ups when lifting weights. We both love weight training and HIIT exercises, but after a couple of weeks, the pounding takes it’s toll. In the long run, cycling was going to give us the best option for long-term use of our bodies while maintaining our desired fitness levels.
We didn’t opt for the newer version of the bike for two reasons. For an extra $500 the bike auto-adjusts the resistance. After riding the bike, you’ll realize you don’t need that feature whatsoever. In my opinion, it’s much better to adjust the resistance yourself based on your comfort level. Number two, which I admit is a great feature to have, is that the screen on the newer bike swivels around, which is great for when you want to mix it up with a yoga class or a strengh training exercise. But with my work from home set-up, I can stream the Peloton app from my work laptop, monitor, smart TV, or my phone. There is no need for a $500 swivel function when you have that many screens available for use.
Surprisingly, the bike does not take up as much room. Much to Lauren’s consternation (nice word, right? just learned it) we did have to re-arrange some furniture and potted plants, but we now agree that the bike has actually improved the layout of our apartment rather than take from it. We, of course, had to prominently display the bike next to the window of our Manhattan-view apartment because that’s just the Peloton way.
I think the most exciting part about Peloton is how the software enables so many enhancements, beta testing and customization. In just the two months that we’ve had the bike we have experimented in Sessions (pre-recorded classes that still group together people in real-time to mimic the feel of a “live class”) and stacked classes (combining a warm up class, a cycling class, a strenght-training workout, and finally a stretch).
If you opt for the family package, Peloton will also send you a yoga mat, water bottles, clip-on shoes, earbuds, and heartrate monitors (which I’ve yet to use). In my opinion, this is the future of fitness – connective software with real-time statistics and a community-driven competition. You already see it with devices like the Whoop strap or the Oura ring, for athletes to track their sleep and recovery. I’ve heard great things about the new Peloton treadmill as well.
Does it beat going for a long run by yourself, or hitting a new PR on the bench press? Maybe not. And I certainly long for the days we used to be able to go to the gym and sit in the sauna after a hard workout. But I think in the long-run, this type of connected fitness is going to thrive and it will only improve. So whether you’re hopping on a Peloton bike, or tracking your friend’s workouts through your Apple Watch, let’s all agree that tech-based fitness is here to stay.
More reviews coming soon!