The classes are ripe with the right type of encouragement. Comments along the lines of "All we can do is bring our best" are peppered throughout every ride, and it doesn't feel at all cheesy, despite how it may look written down. I have found a favorite instructor in Cody Rigsby, an all-smiles, Men's Health cover type who constantly refers to the audience, without a hint of irony, as "boo." That said, his peers all deliver engaging and motivating classes.
While they give you recommended cadence, resistance and sometimes power output metrics to aim for during the routine, you're often reminded that whatever you can manage is good enough. Whether the inherent reverse psychology to this is intentional or not, I'm unsure, but, me being me, I often try to best the suggested figures.
Therein lies another source of motivation: the stats. Your current work rate is always on screen as a tangible representation of the effort you're putting in -- as is your heart rate if you have the optional monitor wrapped around your chest. Off to the side you can see your total output measured against other riders. There's an all-time leaderboard, but it's more fun to look at how the people currently doing the same class as you are getting on. You can also track how far they are into their ride if it's an on-demand routine, to assess whether you're keeping pace. Surprisingly, at least to me, I've never started up a rerun and seen an empty virtual studio.
I'm quite happy to compete against myself, though, so the figure that's always been most meaningful to me is my total-output personal best. Through the bike's display, the Peloton website or the Peloton app, you can revisit prior workouts and look at your stats in plain or graphical form. Personally, I'm not that into the numbers aspect, nor have I felt at all compelled to climb the leaderboards. There are key metrics that still interest me, though, purely because I want to know whether I'm getting fitter, or better, or at least trying harder.
Apparently I am. My last workout was statistically my best, with a total output of 213 kilojoules and 482 calories burned, and that doesn't even account for the arms sections, which ran for roughly a third of the class length. I'm not some kind of spinning master now. In fact, despite feeling like I had established some kind of regularity to my Peloton use, the stats tell me I've completed only ten classes -- not including the one I gave up on when I was really just not in the right frame of mind. Still, if you count the time I've been out of town for the holidays, CES, etc., that's roughly one workout per week I almost certainly wouldn't have done otherwise.
I've barely scratched the surface of what the Peloton subscription offers. The ability to jump on the bike whenever and load up an on-demand class means I haven't tried doing it live -- even after Peloton added a couple of UK-based instructors in mid-November to better cater to users in my time zone. The strength and cardio workouts, stretch routines and meditation and yoga classes, as well as the audio-only outdoor running guides available in the app, have all passed me by, too.
I couldn't personally justify the expense of the Peloton bike and subscription. If I were a gym nut, I also wonder whether I'd even want to be able to do all that at home. I imagine that for many people, there's a social aspect to working out, or that the mere need to carve out time to actually visit a gym or fitness class is fundamental to their motivation. But since I've worked from home for years now, it's in my nature to be borderline agoraphobic.
It seems on-demand exercise is expensive everywhere, and Peloton's bike is, at least, cheaper than its new treadmill. Alternatives like Echelon, Tonal and Mirror range in price, but you wouldn't call any of them cheap, and then there's the monthly subscription to make the best use of them. If I had that kind of money, though, I think it'd be better spent at home than on a gym membership I'd never use. And trust me, I've walked that road before.