There is a lot of cool gear in the golf equipment world that doesn’t always fit neatly into Most Wanted Tests or Buyer’s Guides. You still want to know how it performs. In our We Tried It series, we put gear to the test and let you know if it works as advertised.
What We Tried
The Peloton bike.
Dave Wolfe – Though most of you know me from the putter corral, I am also quite fitness-focused, especially as I move into my second half-century of life. I’m keeping the body moving so the body will keep moving.
A Bike On a Golf Site?
I know this seems like a stretch to be talking about a home exercise bike on My Golf Spy but hear me out. Professional and serious amateur golfers know all kinds of fitness activities can improve their games.
COVID-19 and the Gym
You never know who’s on the Leaderboard with you. https://t.co/tbt6oFZKmI— Peloton (@onepeloton) December 2, 2020
2020 has forced many of us to redefine our fitness plans on and off the course. Under normal circumstances, I hit the gym for cardio and weights most weekdays.
“Normal” ended last March.
When my gym closed in March, I still needed to move my body. So my fitness plan became walks/jogs outside and whatever calisthenics I could remember from high school. While not the same as the gym, the new plan helped me to stay active.
The “COVID stay at home plan” was tolerable because I could still walk outside and occasionally play golf. When the persistent smoke here in California took the “outside” away, I needed to find some kind of exercise to do inside my house.
Why a Peloton Bike?
Initially, I was looking to buy an elliptical machine. After a few minutes of research, I discovered the models I used at the gym were beyond my price range. I also considered a treadmill but I’ve had one before and it was a very tedious exercise machine that didn’t get used all that often.
Somewhere in the search, I clicked on the Peloton bike.
Like many of you, I didn’t really have a good understanding of what Peloton was all about. Before my research, I had two thoughts about Peloton. First, I had a preconception that it was a cult-like thing for rich people. Second, I had a little laugh remembering the vitriol their “gift” advertisement generated. Nevertheless, since I was exploring home exercise options, I added them to my research list.
A few days later, I ordered one.
I mentioned that I had previously considered Peloton a product for the wealthy. At roughly $2,000 , it’s not cheap but it’s about $3,000 less than the elliptical machine I was using at the gym. Still, $2,000 is tough to find under the couch cushions at Casa Wolfe. “Less expensive” can still equate to “too expensive.” What made buying a Peloton possible for me was the financing option.
Peloton is offering 0% APR financing on their bikes. Depending on your choices, this works out to $50 to $60 a month for 39 months. Your monthly cost will be higher than that, though, as Peloton also charges a membership fee of $39 a month for their classes. All in all, it came down to about $100 a month which is about $30 a month less than our previous monthly gym membership costs.
Having previously shunned a home treadmill, I did think about bike longevity. Someday the pandemic will end and gyms will reopen. I had concerns about the Peloton bike still being a satisfying workout option when that happens. With the financing decision, all of our exercise budget for the next 39 months is earmarked for Peloton. It was a risk.
Throwing caution to the wind, I ordered one. Two months of rides in, I can definitively say that it is the best fitness purchase I have ever made.
The Peloton Bike Versus Other Bikes
Before ordering, I researched spin bikes from NordicTrack, Bowflex, Echelon and others. Most of the reviews singled out Peloton as the gold standard. The recurring argument for buying something else was that they were cheaper. The Peloton was more expensive but had more classes, better customer service, better durability and an overall better track record. For me, the zero-percent financing removed the price barrier so I went with the Peloton. We also added the family accessory package so we would have the necessary cleats and other accessories.
Then I waited six weeks for it to arrive. Obviously, I’m not the only one hooked by the financing and looking for a home workout option.
Riding the Peloton Bike
The delivery crew brought it in the house and got it up and running in about 10 minutes. It needed to be plugged in and connected to WiFi. After that, it was time to ride.
Before we get to my bike experiences, I want to make one important statement. Prior to the Peloton, I had never taken a spin class in my life. I saw the classes at the gym but was too self-conscious to try one. As such, that first ride on the Peloton bike truly was a first ride.
So Many Classes
Once you fire up the bike, you’ll see the huge catalog of classes that Peloton offers. Not sure what to expect, I initially avoided the classes and rode a couple of scenic rides. These are quite fun. Peloton has recorded someone wearing a GoPro riding a bike all over the world and you get a pseudo-VR experience as you pedal and watch the screen. I did two of these rides and then decided to try a class.
Like I said, I had never taken a spin class so I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, Peloton has structured their classes to help the new rider. The classes are categorized by length, instructor and type. I think I started with a 20-minute beginner ride. The instructor explained the basics of posture, resistance, cadence and output. Subsequent beginner rides taught me the proper techniques for rising out of the saddle, intervals, hills and so on. From there, I transitioned into the advanced beginner rides. After about a month, I was taking regular classes, somewhere along the way shedding my “beginner” moniker.
Average Folk Welcome
That’s another of my misconceptions about the Peloton program. I expected the classes to be full of uber-fit cycling fanatics. They are not. Sure, I included a tweet of Usain Bolt on the bike above but does not represent the target audience. Once you take a class, you realize Peloton classes are for normal people. They offer classes of different intensities, lengths, musical themes and so on. It is very easy to find a class that fits your ability level. Easy classes, short classes, long classes and intense classes are all there.
The Instructors Are So Good
If I was to pick one element of the Peloton program that made me a believer, I’d say it’s the instructors. The instructors are amazing. They are supportive as you ride, entertaining, diverse in their backgrounds and approaches to the bike — basically the killer app of Peloton. Accuse me of drinking the Kool-Aid if you must but what gets me on the bike each day are the instructors. I have never had a more engaging fitness experience. Once a class starts, there is no checking the phone, watching TV or letting the dog out. For 30 minutes, I am locked physically and mentally to the bike.
There is a bunch of instructors to choose from. I have found a few who choose music that I like and design rides that I like as well. I spent a few weeks trying out classes from various instructors. Ultimately, I have a group of four that I check first for new classes. By the way, most of the classes are prerecorded but there are live classes all day long as well.
My favorite instructor is Cody Rigsby. He is motivating, funny, entertaining and you can tell he loves teaching his classes. Cody can coach me through the class, inspiring me to keep going. The instructors know where the hard parts of the rides are and they voice encouragement when you are in the thick of them.
After 30 minutes on the bike, I am a soaking mess. The Peloton bike workout is the best cardio workout I have had by a large margin. It is very time-effective as well. One of the things I realized is that 30 minutes on the bike would require at least 50 minutes at a gym if you factor in driving time. Now I can just put on the shoes and be rolling in a minute.
Badges, Music and Goals
The Peloton interface has a very game-like feel. You earn badges for feats like consecutive days ridden, number of workouts in a month or minutes ridden in a year. While these badges may seem trivial, they are motivating. I recently finished a 20-day streak and was going to take a day off. Now I’m on Day 25 because I want that 30-day badge. From there, I’ll likely target the 45-day badge and so on. I’m excited to hit my 50th-ride benchmark tomorrow.
If you are of a competitive nature, you can compete against other riders. Go head to head with others in live classes or try to put up an output high score on the overall leaderboard — whatever motivates you to do better. If you are chasing a personal best, the leaderboard compares your current output to that at the same time in your best ride. It’s like seeing the world record pace line during track meets. If you want your record, you need to top that pace.
The musical offerings are very broad. You can pick rides with pop, country, rock, hip-hop, 1980s … all kinds of music. The instructors do a great job of picking songs that match the efforts in the rides. Last night, my legs were burning in a cadence interval but the beats from OutKast’s Rosa Parks kept me going. All of the songs in a ride are listed for each class so you can pick a class based on what you want to listen to. There are even artist-focused rides where the whole playlist will be one artist.
Cody’s Lady Gaga artist ride has become my Peloton benchmark ride. The system stores all of your rides and all of your performance outputs. It’s a great way to see progress. Every other Friday, I take the Gaga ride and try to beat my previous output. It’s my own game but it’s motivating. When it comes to fitness, motivation is the most important influencer of success or failure.
No, This Is Not an Advertisement for Peloton
I am sure some of you think there is some sinister motivation behind me sharing my Peloton experience with you today. I assure you there is not.
My goal is to share my experience with the bike with those who are looking for a home fitness option. When I ordered the bike, I did not know another person with a Peloton bike and, like I said before, I had not even taken a spin class. My leap-of-faith purchase was devoid of supportive peers. I want to be that peer for you.
I do not feel one bit of buyer’s remorse. Instead, I feel immensely satisfied. Getting on the bike is something I look forward to each day. I know the Peloton has made a difference for me mentally and I believe I can also see some physical changes as well. Honestly, I even smile when I get the notice that the autopayment for the bike was processed. That’s an odd emotion for a recurring purchase but I mention it because no other bank draw elicits a positive feeling.
I mentioned above my concern about continuing to ride the bike once gyms are open again. After riding the Peloton bike for the past two months, I no longer have any concern. It gives me all of the workout I need in the comfort of my home. I may invest in a few more free weights and never set foot in a gym again.
If you want to stay fit this winter and for as long as this pandemic lasts, I can’t think of a better option than the Peloton bike. The available zero-percent financing makes it less cost prohibitive but, most importantly, the Peloton classes and instructors will help you to become comfortable on the bike and motivate you to clip into the pedals every day.
Find out more at: onepeloton.com