It’s taken the US by storm and has now launched in Australia but is interactive at-home fitness platform Peloton all it’s cracked up to be?
Peloton – the interactive at-home fitness platform that’s taken the US by storm – has just launched in Australia but is it all it’s cracked up to be and does it make you work as hard as going to the gym?
I recently had the opportunity to test it out and my short answer is … absolutely yes.
I thought I was getting an exercise bike, what I didn’t realise was I was getting an entire gym – with 5.9 million members in its worldwide community.
As the helpful delivery guys unpacked the top-of-the-range Peloton Bike+ for me, with its 24-inch 360-degree rotating HD touchscreen attached to the spin bike and high-fidelity four-speaker sound system, I quickly realised it was so much more than what I’d seen my American friends post about on Instagram.
A quick scroll through the class options had me realising this wasn’t just a spin bike I’d use maybe once a week – it was a complete gym with thousands of instructor-led classes ranging from 5 minutes to 90 minutes and covering cycling, running, strength, yoga, meditation, cardio, stretching, bootcamp, walking and outdoor.
But I was dubious about how hard could I really work in the comfort of my own home without having an instructor yelling in my face keeping me accountable, the motivation of a class full of people working out beside me and a dedicated class schedule that would force me to get out of bed and keep my booking.
I’d worked out at home doing F45 during the main Covid lockdown of 2020 but like many others, developed a ‘Covid coat’ (extra weight) because the workouts weren’t as strenuous. Surely this would be the same I thought?
I couldn’t wait to try it, so hopped on the bike for my first spin class.
As someone who’d done spin for years and still works out most days doing F45, I have a reasonably high expectation of my fitness levels.
‘I’ll smoke these lazy at-home workout peeps’, I smugly thought as the live 30-minute class kicked off with 1,600 people joining in.
It quickly became apparent this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park as the lively instructor – who loves grooving to the tunes while keeping an extraordinary pace on her bike – urged us to turn up that resistance.
So here I am, loudly panting like an 80-year-old as I battle to keep up the pace while under resistance, when ‘SpinningAmy’ from Massachusetts creeps up behind me on the live leaderboard and we begin a battle for 800th place.
Yes, despite being a fitness snob at the start, I in fact, was the one being smoked.
The people ahead of me on the leaderboard – which calculates points based on your key metrics of cadence (speed), resistance and output (effort) – were racking up some insane numbers.
The person who ended up finishing #1 in the class had something like 500 points while here I was languishing in the middle of the field on 220.
So anyway, ‘SpinningAmy’ and I do battle for the final 10 minutes.
I jump above her during a particularly tough out-of-the-saddle effort and next thing, a ‘high five’ pops up on my screen from her.
Nice acknowledgment I thought, and high-fived her back.
She passes me during the next sprint phase in the saddle, so I shoot her a ‘congratulatory’ high-five and she sends one back.
I finish the class gasping for breath, legs burning, having worked much harder than I would have in studio (finishing #794 and just beating SpinningAmy).
Well, that was humbling.
In another class – this time on-demand so with 16 actively live in the class when it starts – I engage in a battle with Cynthia from Minneapolis for fifth spot with less than a point between us.
That’s one of the things I love about Peloton.
Unlike many at-home workouts which are lonely, isolating and completely reliant on your own drive to make progress, Peloton’s ‘virtual community’ and immersive ‘studio-style’ workouts keep you accountable and pushing harder.
It is hard.
There’s nowhere to hide.
Take a break for a second and you topple down the leaderboard.
It taps into your competitive side – something I find very hard to switch off even if I start the workout intending ‘just to get it done, don’t worry about the leaderboard’.
The strength classes are another personal favourite.
Swivel the screen around, roll out your mat and work on those muscles using weights or resistance bands while the off-bike cardio options include HIIT and dance.
Another favourite is ‘bike bootcamp’ – a combination class that involves phases on the bike and phases on the mat with weights. A perfect full body combination.
My husband even got in on the action with a 20-minute arm workout while I cooked dinner.
I could hear the instructor saying ‘this is going to be spicy’ and the next minute I hear my husband straining and grunting as he pumps out shoulder reps that are in fact ‘spicy’.
All 30+ instructors are great.
Most of them are based in Peloton’s New York studio, they’re lively, motivating and put together classes based around music from the top global artists.
I particularly loved one ‘2000s’ cycle class with instructor Kendall Toole which had great throw back songs from Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, Blink 182 and Paramore.
I haven’t found an instructor I don’t like yet.
In one live class, Robin Arzon gave me a shoutout.
‘Hi TanyaLF and welcome to all our Australian members’ she said.
That was quite the thrill to be called out among a group of 2000+.
There’s probably only one instructor I won’t rush back to do another class with soon… purely because she kicked my a**.
The ease of walking downstairs and bashing out a quick 20-minute class makes Peloton’s convenience unrivalled.
If I don’t get up when my alarm goes off at 4.07am, I’ve missed my opportunity for an F45 workout for the day.
But with Peloton, I can snooze that alarm for another hour and still do a heart-bursting 30-minute cycle class before work and follow up with some yoga when I get home.
I can see Peloton would be particularly handy for busy parents – get in a quick 20-min workout while the baby is sleeping rather than having to arrange care at a specific time to race to the gym for an hour.
The only current downside is most live classes are based on waking hours in NYC, meaning the opportunities to do live classes are a bit limited unless you feel like jumping on the bike at 1.30am.
But still, there are some options a few times a week and Peloton’s Australian manager Karen Lawson tells me recruitment for ‘entertaining and charismatic’ Aussie instructors is underway with plans for more classes in our timezone.
So do I rate Peloton?
The on-demand library of thousands of immersive classes and the huge variety is unparalleled.
I was even more grateful to have had the bike when southeast Queensland was plunged into a snap eight-day lockdown as Delta spread.
My workouts didn’t miss a beat, in fact, my body was sore and my legs felt firmer after a few weeks doing the classes.
During a three month period this year, Peloton’s 5.9 million members took a massive 171 million workouts.
In one record-breaking class during Covid, 23,000 members were cycling live.
Founded in NYC in 2012, within the past three years Peloton has spread to the UK, Canada, Germany and has now launched in Australia.
I’ll get off a 20-min bike ride and stream a 20-min strength class followed by 10-min core blast and 15-min restorative yoga class.
I’m seriously considering investing in a Peloton bike myself now.
And it is an investment.
The Peloton Bike and Bike+ costs $2,295 and $3,695 respectively and it requires an ongoing all-access $59-a-month membership which gives access to all content and creates accounts for the entire household.
But if you’ve got the cash, the investment in convenience will be thoroughly worthwhile.
For those who want the on-demand classes without the outlay of the Peloton Bike, the Peloton app is a much more affordable $16.99 a month.
The author was provided a Peloton Bike+ to trial for this review.
Originally published as Is global phenomenon Peloton worth cancelling your gym membership for?