In Review

Is Peloton worth it? Why a £2,000 exercise bike could be your best – and last – home fitness purchase

Dubbed by Men’s Health ‘the best cardio machine on the planet’, Peloton is much more than just a spinning bike

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One of the most common excuses for not doing exercise is lack of time. As The Heart Foundation says “Between kids, commuting, work and other responsibilities of life, our modern 24/7 lifestyle often leaves us feeling like there is just not enough time in the day to fit in a workout. Exercise becomes a low priority in our already crammed schedules.”

For some people, the solution is finding a gym that is close by, but even then, after signing up (which most commonly happens as people turn over a new leaf in January), gym drop-off rates are huge.

According to the Fitness Industry Association, almost 22% of people who join a gym will have thrown in the towel after 24 weeks. A further 20% will disappear before December. According to estimates, as many as 630,000 across Britain could be paying for gym memberships they do not use.

So how do you kick-start your workout regime?

One solution is Peloton, an in-home exercise bike and streaming fitness classes system which Men’s Health dubs “the best cardio machine on the planet.”

In a nutshell Peloton is a high-quality exercise bike with a tablet attached to the handlebars. But the device is a gateway to a near-limitless library of live and pre-recorded spinning classes. This means you get a personal trainer in your own home – which makes it that much harder to make excuses for not working out.

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If you opt for a live session, you might also find yourself being encouraged by the trainer, who calls out names during each class, urging riders on. But even if you are doing a class on catch-up, motivation comes in the form of a running leader board showing you how your performance measures up against everyone else’s. It is a simple but compelling feature that certainly brought out the competitive streak in this reviewer.

Another motivating feature is the competition with oneself. Peloton records all your previous performances, meaning that every time you get on the bike you will see how your current session stacks up against your previous performance – driving you on to beat your previous personal best.

copyright SHAWN HUBBARD

Peloton also comes with a mobile phone app that gives access to a whole world of classes, from meditation and stretching to yoga and running – all to a soundtrack, either energetic or soothing.

The workout system has been available in the US for years, but has made the leap to the UK at the beginning of this year, employing two instructors in its new London studio, Benjamin Alldis and Leanne Hainsby. It isn't cheap, however - the system costs £1,990, and then another £39 each month for a subscription - which acts as the equivalent of a gym membership. However, unlike most spin studios, where you can pay up to £20 or £30 per class, a Peloton subscription gives access to unlimited live and on-demand classes.

So is it worth it? It is certainly expensive in terms of setup costs, but for convenience, quality of equipment, high-level instruction and the freedom to take classes at your own pace and on your own timetable, Peloton is difficult to beat. 

After trying the bike out, The Week Portfolio caught up with British instructor Ben Alldis to ask him how his move away from a career in finance to working full-time at Peloton is treating him so far.

What led you to become a Peloton instructor?

I’ve always been into fitness and played different team sports from an early age, including football, cricket and rugby. Following university, I was working in the City as a private equity investment analyst but my passion for fitness remained strong and so I started teaching classes at a boutique studio. On an average day, I would teach two classes before work and then head straight to the office. Last summer I was introduced to Peloton and decided to make the move to a full-time career in the fitness industry. It’s the best decision I’ve made. I love sharing my passion for fitness and helping others achieve their personal goals. I spent the summer training in New York City with Leanne Hainsby, who is another UK Cycling Instructor. We then began teaching classes in November 2018.

You began your career in finance, before switching across to fitness. Are there common skills that served you well in both industries? Are there parallels between the two worlds?

Both require hard work and commitment. It takes a strength of mind to push yourself beyond your limits. To be the best, you need to know your subject, whether that’s financial models or optimum power-zone training techniques. Most of all, to be truly successful, you need to engage with your clients. So, I can see many parallels between both worlds.

What does it take for someone who is currently out of shape to get in shape?

First, find something you enjoy doing whether that’s indoor cycling, bootcamp style classes or running. I’m a big believer in small habits and behaviours, whether that’s committing to three training sessions a week or never missing a Monday workout. Find what works for you and try to think of improvement as getting better by one per cent every day. Small, but meaningful build-up is a powerful tool. One of the things I love about Peloton is that it lets you know your personal best for each ride, so you can compete with yourself and set achievable goals to improve.

In your view, is it diet or exercise that is more important to improving one's health? And why?

I like to take a 360 approach. Diet and exercise are both important, but so is overall wellbeing. I’m a huge believer in exercising both your body and mind during a workout. Balance in life is also important - I’m all for a cheeky burger once in a while.

Peloton offers people the chance to get fit in their own home. Apart from Peloton classes, what exercises can people do to stay fit without having to join a gym? 

Peloton provides members with access to thousands of live and on-demand workouts. In the UK, you can access class content through the Peloton Bike and Peloton Digital. If you don’t have access to Peloton or a gym, there are many ways to incorporate activity into your every day. For example, walking and giving yourself a step target to hit (get off the bus one stop earlier), outdoor running (or taking the dog for a longer walk) and circuit or HIIT style training, which incorporates bodyweight exercises.

When people hit a wall in their workouts, or feel they are plateauing, what can they do to break through and keep progressing?

The most important thing when starting out is to set achievable goals. Don’t think about what you need to achieve in three weeks, instead, think about what you need to achieve in three months. Make major changes regularly (shake things up completely every couple of months to keep things fresh - new types of classes, target different muscle groups etc.) and minor changes often (shuffle the order of your workouts and add a new challenge to your weekly programme). Most of all find your squad. The fitness community is full of energetic and positive people who can help you stay committed to your goals. One of my favourite parts of Peloton is the community, who are great at not only inspiring one another, but me as well.

According to the NHS, obesity affects one in four people in the UK. In your view, what is causing this problem and what can be done to bring the obesity rate down?

I don’t think there’s a simple answer to this question. However, in terms of what can be done, I think that any steps taken to make exercise more accessible and convenient can help. Peloton is designed to be as convenient for our Members as possible. Similarly, to a boutique studio, you can plan your workouts however there’s no limit on sign-ups or cancellation fees and you can take the classes from the comfort of your own home.

You have been an athlete for your whole life. What are your own personal fitness goals?

My personal fitness goals have varied across the years. I have been through the team sporting phase, the marathon and ultra-marathon running phase, the bodybuilding phase but, right now, I am focusing more on my overall wellbeing as opposed to a specific fitness goal. This includes improving my rest and recovery, and my mental wellbeing. People often forget that mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness.

Where would you like your career to be in another ten year’s time?

My focus right now is to become the most successful Peloton instructor I can possibly be. I am excited to see where this opportunity takes me and am very lucky to be fully supported by Peloton. The future, who knows, but I am certain I will be a key part of the growing fitness and wellbeing industry in the UK.

Peloton costs £1,990 (includes delivery fee) + £39/month subscription for unlimited live and on-demand classes. The bike can be financed for £56/month for 36 months (not including the subscription). For more or to sign up, visit onepeloton.co.uk/shop/bike

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