Peloton Review: At-Home Fitness, Perfected

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My entire family is obsessed with Peloton -- and we have been for years. Our infatuation actually began before COVID, when my parents had the foresight to purchase a Bike and subscription in early 2019. They originally enjoyed the Bike for themselves, while my sisters and I made use of Peloton’s companion app while living in other states. Then 2020 struck, and we all flocked home to quarantine together. I think we’d all agree that our precious Peloton has been instrumental in the maintenance of our collective sanity.

The fact that my family agrees on anything at this point is impressive -- and that’s the beauty of Peloton. Peloton has grown into an inclusive space for athletes, wannabes, and everyone in between. The company has spent years perfecting at-home fitness for all and was perfectly poised for worldwide stay-at-home orders when COVID struck earlier this year. Unsurprisingly, Peloton sales have grown 66% since last year: its community is strong -- and growing rapidly.

The Big Idea

In 2012, former Barnes and Noble exec John Foley realized that while boutique fitness classes produced better experiences and results than at-home workouts, they were also inconvenient and expensive. So, he embarked on a years-long journey to optimize the at-home fitness experience. Foley and his team started with the Peloton Bike, a piece of stationary equipment that streams live and on-demand classes taught by real instructors on a built-in screen. (In addition to watching instructors teach on-screen, users can also view their output compared to other riders on a leaderboard, offer virtual high-fives to other riders, and track KPIs Peloton has set.)

Peleton's hardware features a sleek and minimal design @pepe_le_french

The company has also launched Peloton Tread, a high-tech treadmill with a screen and similar features to the Bike, and Peloton Digital, a mobile and desktop app that offers classes that require either no equipment or allow the use of non-Peloton equipment. Through its multitude of classes, Peloton offers runs, rides, bootcamp, strength training, stretching, yoga, and meditation, all taught by world-class instructors and able to be taken at home. While no one could have predicted COVID and its impact on our world, Foley was perfectly poised to offer a product and service perfectly outfitted for it.

The view logging on to Peloton's bike screen

Entering The Peloton Ecosystem

I stepped into the Peloton world pre-COVID, in the midst of a fitness slump. I grew up as a multi-sport athlete and played on USC’s Club Lacrosse team for years, so health and movement have always been integral to my life -- and my happiness. But when I graduated from college and entered a team-sport-less “real world,” fitness became mundane and hollow. I wasn’t making enough money to splurge on ritzy group classes, so I settled on running… everyday…  alone -- and eventually lost my zest for fitness.

Luckily, my sister clued me into the fact that my parents’ All-Access Membership to their Bike unlocked Peloton Digital for our entire family, meaning that even though I didn’t have a Bike (or any Peloton hardware for that matter), I could still access their library of content designed to be completed with no equipment whatsoever.

I downloaded the app and selected a 45-minute Intervals Run with Andy Speer from the app’s “Outdoor” tab, which guides outdoor runners through an audio-only experience. While music by Maroon 5, Nelly, and Lil Wayne played, Andy led me through a warm up, interval set (based on a “Rate of Perceived Exertion” scale instructors explain at the onset), and cooldown that was the most fun and effortless run I had completed in months, despite the fact that I was going faster and further than I had in a while. I’ve been hooked since that first run and use the Outdoor tab regularly, whether for similarly long runs, shorter HIIT training, or even Power Walks.

Peloton Digital offers mobile-friendly classes
I used to cut corners in areas like core and upper-body, but Peloton Digital has changed that. With these classes, I’ve unlocked the caliber, community, and accountability of team training and group fitness, but on my time and in my space.

Much to my downstairs neighbor’s disappointment, I also added Peloton’s channel to my Smart TV and began taking Strength and Yoga classes in my apartment on a regular basis. Like Outdoor classes, they’re instructor-led, but these classes (and the rest of Peloton’s catalogue) are taught on-screen, so I’ve taken classes while actually watching an instructor demo in front of me. I used to cut corners in areas like core and upper-body, but Peloton Digital has changed that. With these classes, I’ve unlocked the caliber, community, and accountability of team training and group fitness, but on my time and in my space.

Peloton Digital classes can be taken anywhere and require no Peloton hardware @codyrigsby

Gaining access to my parents’ Peloton Bike when I returned home to quarantine has added an entirely new dimension to my upgraded fitness routine. I have never been much of a biker, so I’ve enjoyed the experience of developing a new hobby with the guidance of encouraging (and sometimes relentless) professionals during live rides (where they offer shoutouts to fellow riders whose accounts they can see on their leaderboard screens) and previously recorded on-demand classes. One of the coolest parts of Peloton is the synergy between the instructors and their classes -- interestingly, as I’ve invested in improving my biking form, I’ve noticed a shift in my running and strength performance, too. With Peloton, I’ve become a much better -- and happier -- athlete.

Several of my recently-completed classes

Meet The Cast

From the way my family and friends talk about the Peloton instructors, you may actually think Peloton is a sitcom. Each instructor has created his or her own niche and following from the Peloton community, and many users are ride-or-die for their pick (most instructors even have their own fandom community names like the “Boo Crew” and “Body Party”). Even founder John Foley admits that the brand has shifted its self-description from a fitness studio with a production team to a production company that produces fitness content -- and I honestly thought the gang should’ve been nominated for an Emmy this year.

Instructor Selena Samuela reps the brand's popular march @onepeloton

When you join Peloton, you’ll meet former backup dancer Cody Rigsby, who’s loud and proud about his love of ranch dressing, 90s throwbacks, and all things Britney Spears. Cody, who encourages his riders to get their “wigs on tight” before every ride, is my go-to for an instant pep-in-my-step on slow mornings. You’ll also meet leading-lady Robin Arzon who refers to her athletes as “hustlers” and “royalty.” On my strongest-feeling days, I choose Robin to push me to my limit -- and always surprise myself with how hard she encourages me to work. Cody and Robin are only two members of Peloton’s all-star team of talent, which spans across multiple countries and disciplines. The best part is that each instructor not only lifts up their team of athletes: they seem to genuinely support and adore one another as well.

Joining The Club

To state the obvious, Peloton’s hardware isn’t cheap -- the Bike retails for $2,245, and the Tread costs $4,295, plus a $39/month All-Access Membership fee to unlock Peloton’s library of classes. Peloton Digital is a more affordable option at $12.99/month -- the app hosts many of the same classes, only they don’t require Peloton equipment to complete. Peloton charges for an exceptional product: the company has received amazing reviews across all levels of subscription -- the Bike and Tread have received thousands of five-star reviews on Peloton’s site, and Peloton Digital has received hundreds of thousands of five-star reviews in the App Store.

It’s also worth noting that the future of indoor, gym-style fitness isn’t exactly clear -- and Peloton has been perfecting its experience since long before COVID forced the at-home fitness age upon us. There’s no clear set date for when gyms and studios will reopen, or any promise of how safe or comfortable that experience will be. With other memberships on hold, a long-term investment in a Peloton may feel more reasonable to those previously wary of Peloton’s prices (the company’s uptick in sales indicates this is happening rapidly).

Peloton's shoes with cleats offer an optimal ride

The Cooldown

It’s safe to say that my experience with Peloton has given me a renewed energy and excitement for my personal fitness. The company’s impressive rolodex of programming has something for everyone, from beginners taking their first spin to first-time marathoners and even professional athletes. Thanks to Peloton, I don’t foresee another gym membership in my future -- and I doubt many other subscribers do, either. A new era of fitness has arrived… and your untapped potential can now be accessed from the comfort of your very own home.

5 More Reasons To Love Peloton:

  • In the midst of BLM, they’ve taken a stand and invested millions of dollars into fighting racial injustice and inequality.
  • Their sales have increased by 66% in the past year -- and Peloton’s community is growing every day.
  • They began perfecting at-home fitness long before COVID’s stay-at-home orders, and their quality and precision are apparent in every class.
  • Peloton launches new campaigns, challenges, and artist series with each new month, so there’s always something new to motivate you.
  • They offer a free 30-day trial on Peloton Digital, which unlocks thousands of classes across every discipline.

Start your free 30-day trial here!

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