How dare you Peloton? How dare you invent one of the most significant and successful pieces of exercise equipment in recent memory. How dare you put trainers and spin instructors at risk by giving exercisers a fun, effective, and inspiring option at home. How dare you charge over $2000 dollars for a quality indoor bicycle with a never ending supply of qualified and energetic trainers at the rider’s disposal. The horror! It’s not surprising then that Peloton’s most recent holiday advertisement has people up in arms.
But now they’ve gone to far! How dare Peloton have this misogynistic husband give his skinny wife a Peloton for Christmas! How dare they imply that she is overweight and only an expensive piece of exercise equipment can hope to save her. How dare they imply that her value and self worth be saddled to her daily labor on this torturous machine. How dare they paint this macabre picture in a beautiful house with a pure snowy backdrop. How dare they imply that only the rich ruling class can hope to afford such a tool for self correction!
I’m sure all of this and more came to mind when watching the video.
If it did, you’re an idiot. Carry on and go about your life. Nothing I say can help you. If it didn’t, congratulations! You just passed one of the easiest sanity tests ever given. You’re not an idiot, and don’t have an abundance of personal and societal hang-ups, prejudices, and fears.
You may very well be so enlightened that you understand that daily exercise of any kind, but especially an activity you enjoy, is like chicken soup for the body, mind, and soul. Exercise isn’t all about losing weight or changing your physical appearance. Regular exercise can have an extraordinary impact on our overall wellness and make all aspects of our life easier, more manageable, and more rewarding.
I’ve been thinking about writing a review of the Peloton bike for some time now. What better time than when the snowflakes are out in force to bash an innovative company and an excellent product. I have had the “privilege” of having daily access to a Peloton Bike for just about 2 years now. And no, I don’t own one. You know who does? The gym where I work. Go figure. One of my coworkers owns one though, and he’s not rich. I know, I’m his boss. They aren’t cheap of course, starting around $2250. It appears they can be financed though for around $60 a month. You know not unlike how many people finance the outrageously expensive phones they have in their pockets. Phones they should likely spend less time on. These “woke” folks should do themselves (and me) a favor and put down their phones, stop posting stupid stuff on social media, and get themselves a Peloton Bike. In the interest of full disclosure though, the Peloton bike requires a monthly membership fee as well. Last I checked that fee is $39 a month. So in total you would be looking at right around $100 a month for the bike and all the classes you could possibly want. Cheap? No. Prohibitively expensive? Of course not. In this day and age that’s likely half of what you pay for cable TV each month. It’s all about priorities. If you need the exercise and you want to take spinning classes from home, cut the cord and get yourself a Peloton.
So for the last couple of years I have been riding the Peloton about once a week. Why not more you ask? Because I hate it. I hate that I get such an effective and efficient workout. In short, I hate how it kicks my ass every time. The Peloton is designed to motivate in a variety of ways. The choice of instructors is abundant and varied. Anything from cheerleaders to grit-your-teeth road warriors. Pretty much something for everyone. Music to inspire your ride? Select a ride based on the genre of music you enjoy if you so choose. Rides can last from 20 minutes to an hour and practically speaking, anything in between. You can pick a live-streamed class going on that very moment or choose from literally hundreds of classes on demand. The number of choices is almost daunting. If you’re lucky you may even get a shout-out from the instructor on your birthday or a high five for your 100th ride during a live-stream class. If you want to get a good stretch on after your class, you can dial that up as well. What motivates and pushes me so hard on the Peloton though is the metrics. The bikes are designed to promote competition both among the community and individually. Cadence, resistance, distance, total output are some of the metrics you can measure your performance with. And of course, there is the dreaded leader board. Showing whoever may be currently taking the same class as yourself as well as the all-time leaders. Compare to others or compare to your own previous rides and you have a recipe for some real athletic challenge. And for those of you that don’t think competition is good for you, even competing against oneself, you didn’t pass the previous sanity test. They will even send you an email every month to tell you how you’re doing.
As a club manager I am uniquely positioned to review the Peloton bike not only from the standpoint of functionality but also from the standpoint of reliability and durability. They are one of the most popular pieces of equipment in our facility and literally get abused by people of all shapes, sizes and experience levels. They are generally well built bikes. Heavy (as they should be) and solidly constructed. They inspire confidence in and out of the saddle. As any avid cyclist knows, a bikes frame needs to be stiff to insure that the power generated at the pedals is applied directly to the wheels. Nothing wasted. The Peloton inspires confidence in this regard. The bike also has a good number of adjustments to fit just about any rider. Besides the height of the seat, the seat can also be adjusted forward and back allowing for comfortable positions for those riders with longer or shorter torsos and arms. The handlebars can be adjusted up and down as well, giving the rider the option of a more upright or bent over position. Overall the bikes have held up well.
Unfortunately, the Peloton’s adjustability is also one of its weaknesses. I have replaced the seat post on each of our bikes several times. Fortunately while they were still under warranty. The crux of the problem is not necessarily the fault of Peloton. To make these adjustments the Peloton uses a bolt that is screwed into a collar that applies pressure to the seat post as an example. These collars work reasonably well and don’t require very much pressure on the knob to hold things securely in place. The problem is that people crank down the knobs anyway. Human nature. What works well tight will work better tighter right? The result unfortunately is quite a few cracked collars and damaged seat posts. I have literally embarked on a campaign to educate gym members on the proper way to adjust the bikes. From my many conversations with Peloton support this is a known issue and something I’ve been given the impression they are working on fixing. Peloton support by the way has been exceptionally good. The good news is that this issue is manageable and likely non-existent with proper use and moreover likely not an issue at all for an individual rider in a home setting. The other noteworthy issue I have had with the Peloton is also likely unique to a club environment. The Bluetooth connectivity to wireless headphones can be very finicky at times. I suspect once again that this is an issue unique to a club setting where there are potentially many devices interfering with an individual riders wireless headphones. It can often take a few minutes or more to make the connection. More often than not I use wired headphones to skip this potential frustration.
You could say I have a love/hate relationship with the Peloton bike. I always get an excellent workout and have never felt bored or disengaged while doing so. I have at times attempted to make a concerted effort not to get carried away by the metrics and crush myself in an attempt to beat my last ride by a single kilojoule or tenth of a mile.I almost always fail though. I will turn off all of the metrics on the screen, willing myself not to let them determine my intensity. Inevitably about two-thirds through the ride I will take a peek and find out I am on pace to break a record or meet a certain threshold, and I am off to the races. I have a near obsessive goal of staying in the top 10-20% of the all-time leader board. Exactly why I sometimes turn it off. And while that may sound impressive, the riders in the top 10% are sometimes doubling my total output. Without fail there is always a puddle of sweat under my bike. Without fail I always get a good workout, whether it be for 20, 30 or 45 minutes. Without fail I am happy to get off and be done.
So would I buy a Peloton bike if I didn’t have access to one already? Likely not. It’s an excellent compliment to the many different activates I participate in, but I would have a hard time justifying the expense in my case. I can easily understand why someone would buy one though, and have no qualms about recommending it. As much as I might joke that it has the potential to put spin instructors out of business, you can’t fault Peloton for making a quality piece of exercise equipment that can give the user the feel of a real spin class in the comfort of their home. If that’s your thing then by all means go for it.