We all know the usual procedure for this kind of thing: you buy home gym equipment in January and leave it out for the scrap metal guys by mid-March.
But with 2020 being the year that staying in really did become the new going out, can a hi-tech exercise bike transform your health at home?
Peloton has now sold more than 500,000 exercise bikes, and over 55 million workouts were taken last year alone. It’s a fitness phenomenon based around a stylish Wi-Fi-connected spin bike and 22in HD tablet that streams live and on-demand sessions 24-7.
Shows have had as many as 20,000 riders joining in at one time – a figure most BBC4 producers can only dream of – and with more than 90 live classes a week, plus tens of thousands saved, there’s certainly no shortage of content to get stuck into.
Peloton’s adverts make for compelling viewing – you can have a spin studio and instructor in your spare room, whenever you want it. The bike is suitable for riders of 121- 182cm with max weight of 136kg – but how does the reality stack up?
My bike is hauled up two flights of stairs by professional PT instructors who set me up, explain how to choose classes via the touchscreen, and show me how to use cleats.
Yes, it comes with proper clip-in cycling shoes to help you use your leg muscles more efficiently – and, I suspect, partly to stop you escaping so easily.
The bike fits neatly into a spare corner, close to the bed to provide a daily waking reminder of its purpose… which, it turns out, is to make you sweat like you’re wearing a wetsuit in a sauna. But where to start?
I’ve been advised not to jump into a full class if I intend to walk tomorrow; instead, a how-to video and 20-minute introductory class seem sensible. Before long I’m a huffing, puffing, sweaty mess and I can’t unclip my shoes from the pedals. And I thought my instructor, Hannah, looked so kind.
I’m eager to get back in the saddle today (no, really, it’s comfy); and while I only manage a 30-minute ‘advanced’ beginner session, I spend ages browsing the classes.
Finding an instructor who clicks is a bit of a lottery, but experimenting is like speed-dating without the face-to-face humiliation – plus you get to choose music genre, duration and difficulty.
During a ride the screen displays all sorts of stats: ride time, current speed, distance covered, cadence, resistance, calories burned; and if you have a Bluetooth heart-rate strap, it’ll check you’re still alive.
The instructors are all unfailingly upbeat and I wonder if I’ll ever embrace the motivational mantras and well-meaning transatlantic whoops, but half an hour of hill climbs and sprints has flown by, my heart’s pounding and I’m drenched in sweat.
The classes are paced brilliantly, and the music fits the expected effort.
No way in hell am I getting on that effing bike. I hurt, and I’m not in the mood to be yelled at by Thor’s second cousin today. Not a chance.
OK, maybe just a quick 20-minute country music ride with Dennis…
There’s no denying the Peloton’s potential.
I feel fitter already, and there’s a real endorphin rush after a ride. I’m mainly concentrating on not collapsing in a heap, but you can compete with other riders in the live and recorded classes based on your power output.
Just remember to filter results according to your age and weight if you want to avoid being pummelled with the reality stick.
The interface is intuitive and you can view your stats and progress, or browse them later in the app; and there are even video rides through famous places in case you can’t face your instructor.
With 90+ weekly live shows, I’ve not even scratched the surface of what’s on offer here, but against my usual judgement I keep going back – and have even done a stretching session and guided run on my iPhone.
It’s expensive; but if you need something more challenging than Joe’s 9am PE lesson and can’t get to a gym any time soon, this is the way to go.
|Screen||22in HD touchscreen|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth for headphone and HR monitors|
A smooth app and hardware make this as good value as any gym membership
Amazing, motivating trainers
Cleats are stiff and can be difficult to limp out of