Ride or Die: The Diary of a Newly Minted Peloton Rider
One thing I learned within the last year is that I really enjoy the advantages of doing things from home. Work? I can do that from my home office. Groceries? I can order those from my bed. Sweating on a stationary bicycle while coming face to face with my physical weaknesses? Definitely would 1000% rather do that in the privacy of my home. While I enjoy the hive-mind unity of an in-person cycling class led by a strong and inspiring instructor, more often than not I’d find myself wishing I could bust out a 30-minute workout without considering drive time, parking, scheduling and just generally going out in public. So, I did it—I succumbed to the targeted ads on my social media accounts and ordered a Peloton.
“Sweating on a stationary bicycle while coming face to face with my physical weaknesses? Definitely would 1,000% rather do that in the privacy of my home.”
On my bike’s scheduled drop-off day, two young, blonde Peloton representatives arrived at my house in a white van. I led Maquenzie and Tori to the room where they installed my bike. I chose my art room, next to a mural I made of the people who motivate and scare me the most—my mother and grandmother. After installing the bike and going through the basic usage instructions, they left a card with their names and an online survey for me to give feedback on my experience. I thought, “so far, so good,” as installation was essentially effortless and I didn’t have to break a single sweat … yet.
As a person who uses exercise to curb anxiety, my emotional scale tipped more toward fear than it did excitement when I was left alone with the bike. A few questions I had on my first day as a Peloton owner: What if my shoes don’t fit? Am I going to miss my cycling comrades? Am I going to lose interest because exercise is too accessible? Luckily, hopping on my bike for the first time eased many of these concerns. My shoes fit (lean toward a smaller size for snugness), classes come with a chat and leaderboard where you can receive and send high-fives to other cyclists taking the same class, and the classes offer a range of ease and difficulty, making the boredom trajectory a bit less steep.
“As a person who uses exercise to curb anxiety, my emotional scale tipped more toward fear than it did excitement when I was left alone with the bike.”
During my first few rides I tried to emulate the same experience I would receive in an in-person class. I signed up for HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes because, in all honesty, I didn’t know how to navigate to anything else, and the phrase “go big or go home” really stuck me in a corner—I was already home, so it was “go big” or “fuck off.” Many differences sparked a slight regret and a bit of longing for my beloved instructor Megan Tyrrell at Mcycle within me:
First, the virtual instructors don’t call you by the name of the week. Nothing gets me more revved up for my Wednesday than busting out some choreographed high-intensity cardio moves at 7:10 a.m. If you can muscle through that first thing in the morning, being called “Wednesday” just reminds you that you’re about to kick that day’s ass.
Second, no one hands you a cold wet towel spritzed with essential oils at the end of class—you are alone and no one gives you squat.
Third, it’s difficult to simulate the same type of workouts you receive from an in-person offering. Those classes consist of ab workouts, arm workouts, cardio and resistance. During virtual rides, it seems that you are only able to focus on one type of training, saturating the workout and making it difficult to get through.
Lastly, the instructors just simply can’t connect with you—you are staring at a screen and they are staring at a camera, which is, again, super lonely.
After a few days of HIIT classes, I decided to try something else. I made an investment in and commitment to my Peloton, and I knew I would never forgive myself if I just gave up, neglected the bike and let it become a coat rack. While I was already ready to run back to Mcycle, I knew I could find something within the Peloton-verse that worked for me. Other classes offered scenic rides, yoga classes, strength training, core training and more. Non-HIIT classes were more my speed and hit the mark for me in terms of what I am looking for in a workout. I made the easy choice to take a 10-minute (they go up to 45) scenic bike ride in Switzerland! This was great—I loved this. The experience was more like running on a treadmill. You can control your speed and resistance and set your own goals. Plus, they play some sick techno beats while you ride through Europe. Maybe I’m just travel-thirsty, but this was freaking wonderful.
“The instructors just simply can’t connect with you—you are staring at a screen and they are staring at a camera, which is, again, super lonely.”
I still have a lot of time to try everything that Peloton has to offer and can’t cast my verdict yet on whether or not it was worth entering into a 23-month payment plan for this. What I can say is that I know I won’t completely transition to Peloton only. I have my bike I purchased from Saturday Cycles that I intend on riding fervently this Summer. I also don’t see myself never going to an in-person cycling class again—so don’t worry, I’ll be back, Mcycle ;).