T Tries: The Hype and Hyperbole of Peloton

To find out if the much talked about home training system lives up to its reputation, T Australia puts it to the test.

Article by Lucy E Cousins

Peloton launched in Australia in July 2021. Courtesy of Peloton.

I’m a master at excuses. Especially excuses for avoiding exercise. Sure, I’ve written about health and fitness for the best part of a decade, tried every new fitness class and practiced more downward dogs than I care to remember, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to fit in a sweat session between life and sleep.

So, when US-based fitness empire Peloton launched in Australia recently, I wondered to myself would this be the device that would fall in love with. Would it end up being the kind of obsession that I would turn off Netflix for? Would I join “the tribe” and find “my trainer” through Pelton’s seemingly omnipresent digital footprint?

Well, it turns out the answer to those questions is yes… and no.

As a company, Peloton is a giant in the fitness world. When it launched way back in 2013 with its first bike through crowd-sourcing website, Kickstarter, Peloton was for the truly committed. With a price tag of $1500 US dollars, the offering was a bike that would “bring the community and excitement of boutique fitness into the home”. For most people entrenched in their monthly gym membership, it was probably a hard sell.

However, Peloton was in fact accurately predicting a new fitness trend that was about to hit: connected fitness. The growing company wanted to create a connected eco-system of workouts, trainers and community that could be accessed at any time from your lounge room. No gym and no commute need.

These days the cost of Peloton’s bikes is almost double, but then so is the offering. There are two bikes to choose from; I trialled the Peloton+ bike, which retails for $3,695 in Australia. The sleek machine features a huge touch screen, which can rotate 360 degrees so you can use it for yoga and stretching. In terms of features, the four-channel audio is impressive as is the ability to sync my Apple watch, and the range of classes on offer is prolific.

To access classes, there is an $59 a month membership which gives you unlimited live and on demand workouts, as well as scenic rides (Big Sur is a highlight), stretching classes and guided meditation.

The Peloton Bike+ features a screen than can rotate 360 degrees so it can be used for a variety of workouts. Courtesy of Peloton.

Having synced up my Bluetooth earphones, I’ll admit that sneaking off to do a quick 20-minute ride was pure pleasure. There are scheduled classes and on-demand ones, with a range of trainers to choose from. And while there are some charismatic (and ridiculously fit) trainers to love, I tended to choose the workout by the music. My go-to choices? Usually 90s RnB and 2000’s pop. I’m a simple girl at heart.

Apart from the catchy music and almost too good-looking trainers, the one thing I thought would turn me off (connecting with other riders) was actually the most addictive aspect of each ride.  During each session, a tally informs you of your position on the leaderboard, and from there you’ve got the ability to high-five and connect with the others riders around the world. It sounds like an inconsequential feature, but the moment you get a high-five from someone in London, or Chicago, you can’t help but smile. Trust me.

Halfway through my trial though, I needed a change. So, I switched to the yoga classes, which I loved, and then focused on meditating. That’s where I really began to understand the attraction of these all-in-one training systems. They offer up everything you’ll need to get fit.

Well, almost everything. They can’t offer you one thing you really need. Motivation.

While I absolutely love my Peloton bike because it truly is an inextricable part of my fitness routine, it has made me finally understand what trainers the world over instinctually know. Health and fitness need motivation, and that is something no machine or programme can give you. You need to find that internally. And after two years of uncertainty and change, motivation can be hard to come by.

So is a Peloton worth the hype? Absolutely. Will you find your tribe and your trainer? Affirmative. But will a Peloton bike increase your motivation and reduce your screen time? No, that part is still firmly in your court.

As for me, just looking at my Peloton bike can excite me about working out to Destiny’s Child today… or it can remind me that I haven’t sat on it in a while. And the bottom line is, whether I climb on and start spinning depends on the day I’ve had, the time I have spare, and sometimes what is on Netflix right now.