By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
During the pandemic, Peloton exploded in popularity as homebound people explored ways to get fit and stay active.
The exercise equipment manufacturer makes not only exercise bikes but also programs to keep users moving and motivated.
The combination of equipment and programming proved so successful during the pandemic that the company struggled to keep up with demand.
But does Peloton live up to the hype?
For around $2,500, the bike comes with a rotating screen so that users can participate in cycling on the stationary bike and in non-biking classes. Peloton also makes a treadmill (around $3,500) and a rowing machine (around $3,100). In addition to the equipment, users can sign up for a separate membership for $44 a month to access all the Peloton programming, accessible to the entire household.
“I’d never say no to people who want to do something active,” said Randy Sabourin, owner of Metro Fitness in Syracuse. “It’s a great supplement to going to a real, live class or gym where you meet real people. The instructor will coach, instruct and challenge you but won’t be in front of you. If you stop, you won’t feel as accountable as if you have people pedaling in front
of you. There’s strength in numbers. You’ll always try your best when your effort contributes to the team. You feel that energy in a class. You get more out of it with people around you.”
He fears that without the in-person group or in-person trainer accountability, “it will become a coat hanger.”
Tuning into a live session can offer real-time feedback and a measure of accountability. Or users can select pre-recorded sessions. Its programming includes classes in yoga, stretching, walk, running and resistance.
Another layer of anonymity may provide a protective buffer, but it also forces users to rely solely upon themselves to feel motivated to participate and to participate fully once involved. There’s no one to check in on them if they do not show up or to monitor form and progress as they participate.
Peloton offers a rental option and month-by-month program option.
“It’s worth it if you use it on a regular basis,” said Jill Murphy, certified personal trainer and co-owner of Mission Fitness in East Syracuse. “The return you get on any exercise equipment or investment will be contingent on whether you use it or not.”
“The good thing about it is the membership adds more opportunity for you than just having the bike or treadmill by itself,” she said. “Most exercise equipment comes with only a few programs.
The Peloton has limitless programs for you to choose from.”
Unlike an in-person class, it can be difficult for people with limitations to use recorded or virtual classes.
“My client who has Peloton and has some back issues,” Murphy said. “When she uses it, it exacerbates those issues.”
An in-person trainer would be more able to modify movements and offer moment-by-moment guidance on them to help someone with an injury avoid further aggravating it.