Although I haven’t done a full post on it till now, my love for Peloton has shown up throughout my weekend recaps and on my social media over the last few months. Last night, I hit my “century ride” (100 classes) – and I got to do the ride live in the studio in New York!
My Peloton Journey / Setup
Stepping back… I first got into Peloton last spring, when I was in New York for a project for a few months, staying at the Sheraton Times Square. Let me tell you, these days I am all over the Peloton Hotel Finder anytime I need to book a work stay… and the Sheraton Times Square still has hands-down the most bikes (12) of any hotel I’ve seen. They basically have a mini studio set up as part of their gym, so you’re always pretty much guaranteed to get a bike anytime you want to ride! It’s a pretty awesome gym.
I started really loving the classes – it’s so convenient to be able to start a class anytime you want, rather than having to take them at a specific time. Outside of “milestone rides” (where you hit a certain number of rides like 50, 100, 150, and the instructor may call you out by name to congratulate you), I don’t find the live classes any more exciting than the on demand classes. I’ve found that as long as I’m taking a relatively recent class, there are always tons of people taking it at the same time as me, so if I want to make it a competition, I can. (And if I really want a competition, I can look at the entire leaderboard of the thousands of people who have ever taken the class rather than those in it at the same moment.)
Despite the exorbitant price point of a bike (~$2400 with taxes / fees), I considered getting a Peloton bike for my house. However, as I think I’ve mentioned on my blog before, it seems to me that Peloton has their pricing a bit backwards. When you own a Peloton bike, you pay $39/month in subscription fees. But if you use a different brand of spin bike, and play the content yourself on the Peloton app, you pay just $12/month in subscription fees. I could have maybe swallowed the cost of the bike, but I couldn’t justify paying that much up front and then also had to pay more every single month to use it. (Especially since with my travel schedule combined with how much I love skiing / trail running / outdoor exercise in Colorado, I’d be unlikely to use it more than four or five days a month.)
Instead, I chose to buy an Efitment bike that had gotten really positive reviews on Amazon and from other DIY enthusiasts. On Amazon, it’s priced at $500; however, I managed to find it in like-new condition on Craigslist for only $250. Score! I added two $20 sensors to it (one for cadence, which shows up right in the Peloton app, and one for speed, which I turn on the Wahoo app to track and then set to auto-upload my speed / distance to Strava), bought some like-new cycling shoes ($30) and clip-in pedals ($20) from Craigslist. When used in conjunction with the Peloton app on my iPad, I now had a Peloton-like setup at a quarter of the upfront cost and a third of the monthly cost. I’m thrilled with that!
(Note that with this setup, I can’t participate in the leaderboard, but I can still send high fives to other “app users”, which I think is a lot of fun. I will concede that I probably push a little harder when I am using a real Peloton bike with the leaderboard, but I can’t justify spending literally thousands more for that functionality. And, since I make it a point to stay at hotels with Pelotons when I’m traveling, I can always get my competitive fix there.)
When I first started checking out Peloton in NYC, I only used the bikes at the Sheraton, and I never tried the classes on the app. Then when I decided to buy my own bike in October, I downloaded the app… and started exploring. I primarily checked out the strength classes, since I had my calf injury and couldn’t check out the running. But I started really getting into the routine of it – it was great to get a structured class without having to go anywhere or commit to a specific time. Whenever I wanted to start my workout, I could do it within one minute. (I do wish Peloton would get rid of the forced one minute intros, or allow you to skip ahead.)
I have learned from Orangetheory that I work out much harder when I’m told what to do and just have to execute – I work a lot harder that way than when I’m pushing myself, since the instructors often to push me to do more than I think is possible. This is also why I love training on the treadmill – if I know what pace I’m supposed to be running, I dig deep and somehow make it happen. But if there are no numbers / baseline (e.g., when I’m running outside and not looking at my watch every second), I run more by feel… and it feels a lot better to take it easy than to push myself 😉
Over the last month, I’ve started adding the treadmill (and bootcamp) workouts to my repertoire. They are a lot of fun! While I was a devotee of Orangetheory for a few years, I’ve since dropped my membership there in favor of hitting the treadmill / bike with my app in hand. My only real complaint about the Peloton treadmill classes is that they aren’t quite as straightforward in their offerings as OTF’s easy to understand strength (hills) / power (sprints) / endurance (long steady efforts). For example, Peloton offers a “HIIT run” class type as well as an “intervals” class type… but isn’t HIIT just a subset of intervals? Unlike OTF, which tends to do hills in one workout and speed in another, as far as I can tell, Peloton is a mixed bag in combining them. Probably not a bad thing, as left to my own devices, I’d probably be inclined to always do the speed workouts rather than put in the hard work of tackling inclines 🙂
Peloton has about twenty instructors across the cycling and running classes (and maybe more in yoga / meditation, which I haven’t tried?). I’ve been asked by a few newbies who my favorites are; here’s my rundown.
Jenn Sherman – I took classes in person with Jenn at Flywheel before she moved to Peloton, so riding with her is a bit nostalgic for me. She was hired as Peloton’s first instructor, and it’s no wonder – she knows her stuff! Very no-nonsense and straightforward rather than gimmicky, and she does a lot of 45 minute rides that follow the Flywheel format of 8 songs of riding, 1 song of arms, and 1 more song of riding before a cool down. Make sure you check out her awesome Billy Joel ride!
Hannah Marie Corbin – Hannah is one of the first instructors I tried, and she remains a favorite. I love her sunny personality, and her music tends to be top hits (sometimes pop, sometimes 80s / 90s, sometimes country) which make for easy listening where I can sing along in my head.
Alex Toussaint – Alex seems really trendy and cool (way cooler than to be friends with me), and I like that riding with him makes me feel like I’m a part of that trendiness 🙂 Great songs (I think my analysts say I’m supposed to call them bopz or beats? Haha), and a combo of tough love and inspiration.
Matt Wilpers – Matt is generally regarded as one of the more serious instructors. This isn’t to say he doesn’t crack jokes, but he teaches a bunch of the “power zone” rides aimed at serious road cyclists. I like his style a lot – very straightforward and tells it like it is. He comes off as very friendly and approachable, and a little bit dorky… which I like 🙂
Denis Morton – Denis is a pretty no-nonsense instructor, and until recently, he and Matt are the only two that teach the “power zone” rides aimed at serious road cyclists. I like that he doesn’t coddle you, but tells it like it is. (That’s generally a trait I look for in all my favorite instructors.)
Kendall Toole – I had just started getting into Peloton when Kendall did her first class, so I kind of felt like I had been with her from the beginning. Her classes are always well-planned, and she does the toughest arm workouts of anyone – they’re always boxing-based, and I find I need to trade my weights down to 3lbs from 5lbs to make it through. She is really active on Instagram, and has sent me a bunch of encouraging messages from there, which I absolutely love. It’s nice to feel like even at home the instructors care about me 🙂
Tunde Oyeneyin – Tunde started at the same time as Kendall, and she will push you hard! I haven’t taken as many classes with her as some of these other favorites, but I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve taken with her. After meeting her in person yesterday and discovering she’s a sweetheart, I’m eager to take more!
My Century Ride at Peloton Studio
And that’s a really nice segue into my experience getting to do my 100th ride in studio yesterday!
A few weeks ago, I scheduled a work trip to New York… and I realized that if I could time my classes well, I could probably ensure that my 100th ride would be when I was in New York and could do it in studio. (Yup, Peloton is kind of cult-ish in that it inspires people to book trips to New York just for their milestone rides. As I was talking about with one of my Peloton Reddit friends, we’re in the Peloton cult… and we love it!) I didn’t want to resort to anything silly (like taking six ten-minute rides instead of the 60-minute ride I’d normally do), but it ended up being perfectly timed – the only thing that really wasn’t what I would have done anyway was that I made sure to do a ride on Wednesday morning (before I flew to New York) even though I was already planning to work out in the evening.
I flew into LGA last night and got in 90 minutes before my class, which left me just enough time to stop by my hotel to change and head to the studio. I was so relieved my flight had been on time! If I hadn’t made it to the evening class, I was going to go the next morning anyway, but I really wanted my 100th ride to be with Kendall. I was there early enough to catch the meet-and-greet that Tunde did after her 8:30pm class. She was super sweet and chatted with me for a bit; it was also helpful to get an idea of what to expect after the 9:30pm class, when I’d be exhausted.
After waiting around a little bit longer, the doors opened and we all headed into the studio for Kendall’s 9:30pm hip hop ride. This was my century ride, and I was super pumped! Kendall immediately recognized me, as I had told her on Instagram I was coming, and she gave me a bunch of shoutouts in the pre-ride for coming straight from the airport. I figured that would be it, but she also shouted me out a few times during the ride! I think it helped that I was on bike 6 (front and center), and probably also that I was grinning like crazy the whole ride… I was so excited to get to do this in person!
As you can see in the above pic, the in-studio display is extremely different from the regular bike / app display. My only disappointment with last night’s class was that the studio bikes don’t allow you to high five – not anyone else in the studio, nor anyone at home. Bummer, because I knew a bunch of my Peloton Reddit friends were riding with me and high fiving me throughout! I felt really bad that I couldn’t see that / high five them back.
While discussing how the studio bikes are different, I found that they were much harder than any of the regular bikes I’ve ridden. I would estimate that if you take a studio class, you should subtract 6-10 from what your resistance is normally. I tried to keep up with my normal resistance last night, and I was so hyped up on adrenaline that it pretty much worked! But in the class I took this morning I was so far below where I normally am.
After class, I got to meet Kendall and chat for a few minutes, then I also caught her on Instagram Live (which she does after every class, so that people get the chance to talk to her). It’s funny… I am so not a celebrity person at all. As a kid, I remember my friends talking about who had a crush on JTT vs Leo, and my response was always, “How can you have a crush on them? You know what you look like, but you don’t know them and their personality.” I’ve never been interested in celebrity gossip… and yet I still got kind of excited to meet some of the instructors that I’ve been riding with for so long.
It got me thinking… I wonder if it’s something about running / riding together that makes you feel like you really know someone? I’ve forged great friendships in running groups, or even just with someone I’ve met while running a marathon and we decided to run together for a bit. Of course it’s not the same connection when you’re in a class via video screen, but it still feels a little bit like the same thing. For that matter, I’ve made a few friends through the Peloton Reddit (and on the Orangetheory Reddit) where we chat about what we think about certain classes, how our running is progressing, etc. In general, I really like having a community to discuss workouts with after I do them, and I think it’s why I found it so easy to flip from Orangetheory to Peloton – both have that community aspect.
Anyway! This morning I headed back over to the studio for Matt’s 6am Power Zone ride. I was definitely tired, with only 6 hours of sleep in between the two classes, but it was neat to see things from a different perspective. This time, I was on bike 14 (back row, off to the side), and the experience wasn’t nearly as thrilling. I couldn’t see Matt very well (a little blocked by someone in front of me), and I found the energy wasn’t as good as a result. For anyone traveling into the studio, I’d say it’s definitely worth your while to make sure you log in to register early enough to get a front row seat. Otherwise, I think it’s far preferable to take the class at home, because the cameras make you feel so much closer to the instructor. Plus, the instructors do an awesome job playing to the camera – in person, it was really clear how much of their job is performing vs just teaching a class! I was very impressed.
I also took advantage of the opportunity after class to finally try out the Peloton treadmill. It was really nice and smooth – a slat-style treadmill (like the Woodway) rather than a classic belt. I really appreciated that it goes up to 12.5mph, and still feels smooth while doing so. (Yes, I tested it at that speed, though I’m sure my PT would kill me! Haha.)
However, I really didn’t like the dial controls, which you roll forward and back to change the speed and incline. I found it much harder to roll them than to push buttons. I also found that the screen was awkwardly far away for me to touch it while I was running (e.g., in order to high five people). I had to move forward so much to reach it that I looked down and realized I was dangerously close to the front edge of the treadmill! Unfortunately, I don’t think that Peloton could really design it to be any closer, or else the giant screen would be right in your face while running.
Plus… did I mention the Peloton Tread is $4,500?! I am going to stick with my current setup of a regular treadmill with either an iPad or phone on top – I think having something smaller makes it more comfortable for it to be closer, vs the humongous Peloton screen being all up in my personal space.
The Peloton Community
After class, I put up a post on Instagram about the experience… and two of the instructors commented! In particular, Matt left a really nice comment saying how much “they all” enjoyed meeting me. Now, I am 100% positive that none of them talked about meeting me for him to make that collective statement… but I still thought it was really sweet 🙂 That kind of community is what makes me feel so engaged and passionate about Peloton… enough that I will go off on a rant to anyone who complains about this year’s holiday commercial about why I think it’s a great commercial and any negativity is more about the person watching it. (True story: I teared up the first time I saw this year’s commercial, because I thought it was so sweet.)
While I loved getting to do my century ride with Kendall (and get multiple shoutouts!), one thing I realized from going to the studio in person is how far superior I think the at-home experience is. When I used to live in New York, I took a bunch of spin classes at various studios. I had Peloton built up in my mind as AMAZING, but when I went in studio, I realized it was no different than those other studios – it really wasn’t elevated at all. Pretty much the only unique thing about the Peloton studio is that they have a spot for you to line up for a picture with the instructor after class if you want one 😉
The magic of Peloton is not the studio, and it’s not even the class formats or the other instructors. It’s the way you can be anywhere in the world and still get in your same familiar workout, and high five your friends. It’s the fact that the cameras are so zoomed in on the instructors, and the instructors are so excellent at performing and playing to the camera, that you can be at home and feel like you’re up close and personal with them. I realized that I had that magic in Kendall’s class (when I was on a front row center bike and she kept looking at me a bunch of times), but I didn’t in Matt’s class (when I was on a corner bike outside of his field of view and got no personal attention). To be clear, Matt is just as awesome an instructor as Kendall, but the magic comes from feeling like it’s a private class they’re teaching to just you. Of course you know there are thousands of others, but the instructors really do a remarkable job of making it feel personal, and like they know you. (And I love that they take the time to cheer me on when I post about my workouts on Instagram Stories!)
Maybe my job (consulting on digital tech and innovation) has biased me… but I am definitely bought into Peloton Digital and the amazing community it’s built around working out. Cheers to hundreds more classes!