I might have mentioned it, but in November we bought a Peloton Bike.
Honestly, if you'd told me a year ago I'd own a Peloton Bike I would have laughed in your face.
This time last year I'd just starting a free trial of the Peloton Digital membership and was absolutely loving it (I wrote a review of Peloton Digital here) but I had absolutely no interest in the bike. I never even taken a spin class - why would I want a bike?!
But fell in love with Peloton Digital last year - I wrote that post back in January 2021 after only using the app for a few weeks. I ended up using the app to train for my 9th half marathon back in September, stacking 60 minute marathon runs with other classes every week to hit my long run mileage and using the 30 minute classes in the week. With the exception of my weekly parkrun runs, I use the Peloton classes for every single run I go on. I've been running for over 8 years now and honestly, sometimes it does get a bit boring, but using the Peloton outdoor or Tread runs to guide my runs has given me a whole lease of life with running.
I also love the other classes too - every Wednesday night I do an evening workout with a mix of strength classes from the app, and I've also regularly done yoga and cardio classes too.
So the decision to take the next the step and buy a Peloton bike wasn't completely impulsive - I'd spent the previous 10 months completely absorbed in Peloton - meeting the instructors, enjoying the music, appreciating the range of classes and falling in love with the idea of connected fitness.
I'd spent at least a few months joking about buying a bike, but in October 2021 we started to talk about it seriously.
Let's address the elephant in the room first - yes, it is expensive. It's definitely an investment. At the time we bought the bike it had been reduced by £400, costing £1350 instead of the previous £1750. I think that additional price cut was what made us start to look into it.
There's also the fact that on top of the bike purchase you need to pay £39 a month for membership. For me, I was already paying £13 a month for the Digital membership so splitting it with Phil it was only an extra £7 a month for me. We'd also made the decision in January 2021 to take a break from British Military Fitness (for which we were both paying circa £35 a month), so between us the Peloton membership still worked out cheaper, but it is an additional cost to consider. You can also choose to pay monthly for the bike over a period of up to 3 years rather than pay for it outright.
I think I first started talking seriously about getting a bike when I was looking ahead to winter exercise. I hate running in the winter. I hate how cold and dark it is when I go out at 6am for my morning runs in the week. I hate worrying I'll get to the end of the road and it will be too icy to run. But I love getting up early and getting in a workout before work. Winter is off-season for me too - I usually start training for my May half marathon in February, and my October half marathon in July, but most of November to February is a chance to take a break from running, so it made sense to start thinking about something new.
I started out by asking around - I knew my boss at work had a Peloton, and I asked Emma of Miss Pond hundreds of questions before purchase. I wanted to know I would use it and I would enjoy it and it would be worth it. I read loads of blogs, watched YouTube videos and got really into the Peloton reddit forum, trawling questions and comments and reviews.
The next step was to book a showroom visit. We're fortunate that our local John Lewis has a Peloton show room, so I booked an appointment to try the bike out in real life.
If you're thinking of getting a Peloton Bike (or a Tread), I cannot recommend going to a showroom more. It was so great to see it in real life (we were like, oh god is it too big?!) and actually try it. Sarah at John Lewis Cheadle was fantastic. She spent over an hour with us, showing us around the bike, helping us to clip in and out (it's hard!) as well as giving us a chance to try the bike. Because we'd used the digital membership we knew quite a lot about the classes, but there was loads more to the bike that we didn't know. We were given the option to try both toe cages (which go over your trainers) and clip-in shoes (which we preferred and are recommended) to use the pedals, but there was no hard sell at all, and we finished the session booking in for a phone call and being given plenty of time to make our decision.
Purchase and Delivery
Spot the towels soaking up the water from the leaking radiator!
I spent the few days following the session in John Lewis doing research into what accessories to buy through Peloton and what to get elsewhere. We decided to get a package which included the original bike, the bike mat and a pair of shoes each. We liked the shoes we'd tried in the showroom, wanted the mat for the floor and didn't want to risk getting a cheap one, but we decided to get an alternative Heart Rate Monitor and cheap weights rather than adding those to our package. We also had a referral code to get £100 off thanks to Emma, which paid for a pair of shoes (I've recently discovered I'm not allowed to share my code publicly, but please drop me a message or a DM on twitter if you want to use it!).
(I'll also note here that we bought the bike right before Black Friday and we were worried there would be an offer, and a few days before it arrived there was an offer on accessories. I contacted customer services and also John Lewis, and within a few days we were refunded the difference we paid!)
After hearing horror stories from people who had ordered during lockdown and waited months for their bike, we were thrilled to get a delivery slot only 2 weeks after our order was placed. Sarah also assured us she was on-hand if we needed anything, and we had 30 days to try the bike and if we didn't love it, they'd collect it and refund us.
I was sooooo excited in those two weeks waiting! I read everything, I got a Scosche Rhythm + Heart Rate Monitor from ebay and looked into padded shorts. We measured and remeasured the space we'd chosen for the bike to make sure if would fit, and cleared the space for the bike's arrival.
Our delivery slot was 8-10am on the day (I really recommend taking the day off work if you can), and an hour before arrival they called to say they were on the way. We actually ended up with a leaking radiator in the room the bike was going in (not what we needed!) so we had to place it in the middle of the room for the first few days but we were able to move it into its proper place between us.
When the guys arrived they were so so so helpful. They got everything set up and plugged in and gave us plenty of time to test the bike and check everything was working, and they helped me to set the height and handlebars and set up our wifi and accounts. They showed me around everything on the bike again and made sure we were happy before they left. It's one of the best delivery experiences I've ever had.
Using the bike - First few weeks
When the bike actually arrived, I was just starting out with the absolute monster cold I got at the end of November so I didn't use it as much as I would have liked to in those first few days.
On the first day I did a beginners class with Matt Wilpers who is one of my favourite running coaches on Peloton. It was great to have a familiar face and the beginner class was excellent for learning about the bike.
Getting used clipping in and out of the bike is tricky at first and definitely takes some getting used to. You also have to remember you can't just jump off the bike if you need to when you're clipped in!
I will be honest, the classes themselves are really hard! If I'm running parkrun or a race I tend to be in the top quarter of women but I've had to get used to this being a completely new sport for me (I'd never even taken a spin class before we got the bike) and I'm usually right near the bottom of the leaderboard. The instructors in the classes will call out the ranges for the cadence (how fast you pedal) and resistance (how hard it is to pedal) at different points during the class and I am pretty much always at the very bottom end of the call outs (sometimes even lower than that). But I've definitely gotten better over the last few weeks. One thing I have found useful is using a Heart Rate Monitor which displays my heart rate live on screen- that way I know even if it feels like I'm way below the callouts I can see I'm still working hard!
When it comes to choosing classes, to start with I mostly went off the playlist for the class - there's a really cool feature where you can search by artist or song to find classes which include them, so I've saved all the pop punk and rock rides obviously! I also stuck with a lot of instructors I already knew, and tried mostly beginner or advanced beginner classes to start with.
I was intimidated by live classes at first and didn't do my first one for weeks, but I actually loved my first live class (especially because I love high-fiving people on the ride and as soon as I join any class I high five as many people as I can who are there live). For me, the timings of the live classes aren't great cause I mostly work out early in the morning around 6am and the earliest live classes are at 7.30am most days. I do hope they add more but the on-demand classes are just as fantastic (and with on-demand classes the metrics the instructors call out are shown live on screen).
Lots of people said they had a lot of erm... bum pain in the first few weeks, and I read loads of recommendations for padded bike shorts to use while you got used to the saddle. This is only my personal experience, but I didn't struggle with that at all, and even during a 45 minute ride now I don't find any pain. Also to prevent pain and injury it's really important to figure out how to set the bike up for you but thankfully it's really easy to adjust - Phil and I both share the bike and it's so easy for me to adjust if he's been on it last. Lots of people recommend this video for getting your bike set up right.
Phil and I also use the bike in different ways - he's super competitive so he loves using the leaderboard, where you can compare yourself against everyone else who has ever done the ride, and also compare against yourself in similar rides. I personally hate this and I hide the leaderboard once I've given out my high fives!
To give myself some direction and get used to the bike, after a few days of trying different classes, I signed up to the Mastering the Basics program to get me started.
Using the bike - Mastering the Basics program
After a couple of days of getting used to the bike we both decided to start the Mastering the Basics program, after reading quite a few recommendations on the Peloton Reddit group.
Mastering the Basics is a 6 week program with about 4 classes a week, which is meant to get you used to using the bike.
There's a range of class types and instructors, and after the first few weeks it integrates some additional classes outside of cycling, such as yoga and strength, to encourage you to utilise all the classes the membership offers, as well as complementing your cycling.
Using a program is great because you don't have to decide what ride to do every time you get on the bike, and it's a great way of trying different kinds of classes and instructors, but it can be quite restrictive. You can't move on to the next class until you've either completed or skipped your current class, and once you've skipped a class you can't go back, so you have to complete all the classes in order.
I really liked having something to work to over the first few weeks. I loved trying out different instructors and classes, and I found the instruction helpful in the more beginner-focused classes. It was also fun because Phil was doing the program too so we could compare notes after each class.
However, the way the classes are organised is far from great. Instead of it being a program of classes specifically made for the program, it's a bit of a bizarre mishmash of existing classes. Some of the classes are way too difficult to be in a beginner program (with some classes rated 8 or more out of 10) and you are asked to ride out of the saddle within the first few weeks with no explanation on how to do this safely. A few times I found it quite demoralising to not be able to hit calls outs in a class which was meant to be for beginners!
As I got towards 4 weeks in (especially as this was getting to be near Christmas for me) I started to find the program a bit restrictive and specific. I wanted to enjoy doing more live rides while I was off work and had more flexibility in my schedule, and it was around this time I started to skip some classes in the program.
I also found after 4 weeks I was getting into a bit more of a rhythm with the bike and I wanted a bit more freedom - I like to use the scheduling and stacking functions which aren't an option with programs, and I like to add a warm up, cool down and stretch to each class which I couldn't do either.
For me, it was a great intro to the bike for the first few weeks, but overall a bit too chaotic to feel like a real beginner program. Just this week Peloton has introduced a new beginner program called You Can Ride, which lasts only 3 weeks and seems to introduce different class types and techniques - I haven't tried but this sounds much more beneficial to a beginner rider than MTB so definitely try that it you want a short beginner course.
This weekend I finished the program, completing 25 of the 28 classes (1 class short of receiving the "gold" badge for the program, which is kind of annoying) so now I'm ready to explore more of what's available!
Using the bike - Beyond the basics
So what's next for me? For the next few weeks I'm planning on taking lots of classes I saved purely for the music - I have loads of pop punk, country and pop rides lined up to do.
I'm currently cycling Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, but I'm planning to reintroduce Sunday longer runs as I've got a 10K coming up in a few weeks, then from mid-February I'll start training for my May half marathon. I plan to still add in a few cycles a week on top of 4 days a week of running, and I also want to add in more strength training (something that's dropped off a cliff for me while I've been enjoying the bike). We recently purchased The Pivot from Top Form Design which allows you to swivel your monitor (similar to the functionality available on the Bike +) so being able to adjust the screen will be great for strength training.
Wednesdays are always my "evening workout" nights so I've been really enjoying booking onto whatever the 6.30pm class is every week. More recently they've all been with Bradley Rose who is one of my favourite instructors which has been perfect. Next week I'm doing an 80s ride with him, then the following week he's doing Broadway which I can't wait for!
I'm also hoping to carry on seeing improvements in my riding and keep working on my technique. I'm still always hitting the lower end of the call outs, and I really struggle to hit higher cadences out of the saddle (I always just crank up the resistance loads instead so I still push myself!) but I'm hoping to learn that as I go. I also want to keep trying to hit more PBs when I'm riding in the evenings and weekends (PBs are an absolute no-go when I've just rolled out of bed at 6am!). I'm also just in general hoping to keep having fun with the bike!
I think it's fair to say, I love the Peloton bike. I honestly wish we'd bought it sooner, and it's perfect for this time of year when I don't always fancy a cold, dark, rainy run (and especially great when we had a COVID scare after Christmas and couldn't go out). It is a big investment and time will tell how often we use it, but we've both been on it nearly every day since we got it so far, and it just makes working out fun.
I've learned a lot already since we first got the bike - there are loads of instructors I thought I would hate (Bradley Rose and Ben Alldis specifically) who are now my favourites, and there are always so many new classes to try you just can't get bored. My other favourite instructors are Cody Rigsby for the vibes and chat and Kendall Toole for the music.
I'm currently on 65 rides and I can't wait for my century ride in a few weeks.
There are so many things here I haven't gone into detail about - how the leaderboard works, badges, live shout outs, streaks, scenic rides, stacking, scheduling... so much more! But there are loads of other places online where you can find out more about that and if you've got this far into this 3000 word essay, congrats!
Please drop me a DM if you want to ask me any questions (or if you're thinking of buying, make sure you let me know and I'll send you my refer a friend code for £100/$100 off your purchase!) and if you're already on Peloton, my username is ccantillon.
Hope to see you on the leaderboard!
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