In my 30s I was crazy into triathlons which morphed into me being totally into cycling. I loved going for long rides with friends. My longest bike ride was the “Seattle to Portland Ride” with my brother — 204 miles in a single day. But I stopped cycling about 8 years ago due to safety concerns when I knew three cyclists hit by cars, one of whom was killed, within the period of a few months.
For years I’ve heard people rave about their Peloton bikes and tell me that I should get one. But I had zero interest in a Peloton. What I had loved about cycling was being in the open air, the scenery, the challenge of long, steep hills, and the camaraderie of riding with friends. I had ridden exercise bikes in the gym and found them boring and uncomfortable. Also, I didn’t want to be one of those people talking about which instructor they liked best, how they just set a new output PR, what their leaderboard ranking was, etc. Peloton seemed like a cult to me — one that I had no interest in joining.
Then in October, a combination of an old injury and new injury resulted in me not being able to run anymore (here’s a bit more detail about that if you are interested). I was very pouty about this — I love running. After about a month of me moping around, my wife bought me a Peloton Bike. While I appreciated the sentiment, I wasn’t excited about it. I had about zero interest in riding an exercise bike indoors. Early in December my Peloton arrived and I decided “what the hell” and tried it. Here’s what I think now . . . .
Peloton is a cult and I am now a card-carrying member of said cult, and I proudly drink the Peloton cult Kool-Aid. I LOVE my Peloton. Here are the reasons why:
1. The Instructors
The instructors are what make Peloton truly special. Each of the instructors has a great personality and they make the classes fly by. Their messages are motivating, not just for that class, but often for life in general. Here are some messages that have hit home.*
- There is no promise of tomorrow, only the road that got you here. So be here with me right now.
- Whatever you are bringing to this class today — it is enough. Who you are right now is enough. Don’t compare yourself to others, just be who you are. You do you.
- Many of you in this class may be going through a tough time. Over the past year of COVID we’ve all had struggles. Just know it doesn’t last forever. Showing up to these classes is training for taking on life’s challenges, preserving, and coming out on the other side a bit stronger.
- Let me check my watch — what time is it? — it’s “boss time” — you are a boss!
- Congratulations on completing this tough class. The most important thing you did is show up. It doesn’t matter what your rank was, how many calories you burned, or whether you set a PR. Showing up is the hard thing and is what leads to progress.
- What is important in these classes is “time under tension.” How far can you go without breaking down? This is training for life, because we’re often in situations where there are no breaks. Learning that you can do more and go further than you thought is what these classes teach you.
- “If Britney can make it through 2007, then you can make it up this hill.” (This, of course, was from Cody Rigsby.)
2. The Bike Itself
Lance Armstrong’s biography (published before his fall from grace) is titled “It’s Not About the Bike.” While that may be true about actual bikes, I disagree when it comes to the Peloton — it is about the bike. Here’s why:
First, It’s a very smooth, very sold feeling spinning bike.
Second, the bike has a huge high-res touch-screen monitor that makes you feel almost as if you are in-person with the instructor.
Both are great features, but what really makes the bike great is the integration of the bike hardware with the software. During the class the instructor suggests a range of resistance and cadence and that range shows on the screen along with what your current actual resistance and cadence is. Very cool. It shows your current and cumulative power output. The monitor also displays the leaderboard for the class (which you can minimize) and information about what song is playing (you can like songs, which I assume which builds your profile and affects what classes are recommended for you).
3. The Sense of Community
I’ve been sucked into the cult. I like discussing with others who have Pelotons what instructors we each like best. I like high-fiving other riders on the leaderboard. Plus, the overall experience makes it feel as if I am friends with some of my favorite instructors. Yesterday, instructor Ally Love said this to me in the class: “you chose me today as your instructor — so I am choosing you, you are on my leaderboard so you are one of my people.”*
I can’t 100% put my finger on why taking these classes makes me feel part of a Peloton community, but they do. And I like it.
4. The Variety of Classes and Music
While taking live classes is great, most often I choose a class from their huge library of pre-recorded classes. You can select classes by length (20, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90 min), type (beginner, low-impact, HIIT, Tabata, climbing, endurance, etc.), instructor, and by music. Most classes specify the music: classic rock ride, hip-hop ride, 2000s hit ride, 90s ride, pop hits ride, etc. I love the variability of the classes.
5. The App is Good Too
A Peloton subscription is $39/month ($12.99 if you just want the app without integrating with the bike). In addition to the cycling classes, you get a ton of other types of classes: strength workouts, yoga, meditation, cardio, running, bootcamps. I’ve sprinkled in some meditation and yoga classes and they are fantastic as well — again, I’ve found the quality of instructors across the board to be fantastic.
*Most of these are paraphrased – it’s hard to take exact notes while out of breath and cycling hard!