I have a slight addiction to exercise equipment. When a new gizmo or workout type comes along, I’m anxious to be a guinea pig. I sign up to pay the four easy payments of $19.99 and I begin to fantasize about how great my life will become once my new exercise regiment alters my life.
Yes, exercise becomes an idol to me. Sigh. I’m working on it.
And, then I see the Peloton commercial. Seriously? I taught spin classes for over a decade. The idea of a virtual spin class that doesn’t require me to leave the house? Amazing.
I went to the Peloton store at the mall near my home and tried the bike. Even more amazing. As I moved my legs smoothly around the pedals and started drifting into my exercise fantasy land. . .I paused to ask the price.
Then I fell off the bike.
At this point I fell off the bike and rolled onto the floor, I curled into the fetal position while the chirpy clerk told me about the payment plans.*
Through my tears, I whispered just three words, “Still. Too. Much.”
Bye, Bye, Peloton. We could have had something special.
(*Okay, I may have exaggerated the way that all went down. But this is what happened in my soul.)
A few months after my dream had shattered, I googled “Peloton”—just to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood the pricing.
I found this blog post on how to do it cheap . . . All the feels came rushing back.
How is Peloton for Women Who Wrestle Body Image & Comparison?
I’ve done over seventy rides in the last six months and generally, I’m pleased by my pseudo Peloton experience. Yet, there are a few things I’ve learned that I wanted to share with you (and warn you about.)
Here’s what you need to know if you are thinking of doing Peloton or the poor man’s Peloton (my version):
First: If you aren’t getting a “real” Peloton bike, I’d advise making sure you go to a spin class or talk to someone who knows how to set you up properly on a spin bike.
I knew that my seat needed to be high enough for there to be just a slight bend in my knee when my leg was fully extended. I also knew how to make sure that my knee was in the right place (over the widest part of my foot) when your pedals are level. If you don’t set up your bike right, you risk hurting yourself, which will make you never want to do spinning again, which will turn that brand new bike a coat rack by the end of the month.
Bottom line: Get help.
Second: If you’re going to do it solo, learn something about spinning first.
Without the Peloton “official” bike you won’t know your cadence or “output” as they call it on the rides.
You can buy cadence trackers if you like. (Though for free you can also just hold your hand over your knee and count the number of times you hit it in a minute. Not convenient, but really cheap.)
Neither will you know how much resistance you have on the bike. For this reason, make sure you aren’t trying to use an exercise bike with less than a 40lb. flywheel. Mine weighs 49. (It’s unclear how heavy Peloton’s is but their entire bike weighs 135. )
You can exercise by the rule of what “feels” good, but you do run the risk of taking it too easy and cheating yourself or even hurting yourself. I say, err on the side of “too much” resistance and then back it off as you need to. That’s the safest way to ride.
Note: If you aren’t doing official Peloton with an official bike, you won’t be able to race other riders or get shout outs if you do live rides. I decided that for $12.99 a month I could live without all that. But, if you are looking for virtual community, you’ll need to pay the big bucks.
Third: Beware of Many Words You Don’t Want Your Kids to Hear!
Some of the instructors have potty mouths and some of the songs they play have really awful lyrics. On the app you can block explicit workouts. (I found this out five months in!) Generally, I found a few clean instructors I like and I stick to their rides. Matt Wilper is my favorite instructor because he plays clean music (97% of the time) and is more fitness coach rather than a “dancer on the bike” (Cody Rigsby’s rides are like a dance party–which can be fun, but I prefer a workout).
Fourth: Beware of your body image!
Here’s the simple truth.
If you struggle with body image and comparison, spending forty-five minutes staring at a perfectly sculpted spin instructor (with firm abs exposed) may leave you feeling worse than you did when you got on the bike pre-workout.
I like some of the female instructor’s styles and song choices, but I don’t like fighting the temptation to compare myself to them during the entire ride. For this reason (and the one above), I stick mainly to Matt Wilper’s rides. I feel good when I get off the bike and I don’t do mental gymnastics over my body image while spinning. You have, literally, thousands of choices on the app so you can see which instructors encourage you and which don’t.
So, should you try Peleton?
If you can afford the real thing—I’d say go for it! They’ll set you up, you get the cool bike with the screen, weight holders, and shoes, even.
If you can’t shell out the $2,000 plus monthly fees, but you like spinning or indoor cycle, then try it my way. Just be safe and get help if anything feels weird or you have pain (other than muscle or butt soreness) after you ride.
And, if you’ve never done anything like spinning before—don’t invest until you’ve tried a class at a local gym. Most gyms will give you a free week to try it out. This is a good chance to get set up properly on a bike and see if you like it! Your butt will hurt. The seat will be the most uncomfortable thing you’ve ever sat on. But, for most it does get better. Then you can venture into the land of Peloton cycling . . . Or, if you hate it, check out the new Peloton Tread program instead.
But, if you’re planning to do Peloton to “fix” your body image issues, I have bad news for you. It won’t do it. You may lose weight, you may feel better, physically. But, body image issues can’t be fixed with the right exercise program. I talk more about that here.
Or, read my new book for the secret.