The Peloton Bike! I saw the commercials and was hooked. Over 10,000 on demand group spinning classes right in the comfort of my own home? You mean I never have to find someone to watch my kids, get in a car and drive to the gym? A dream come true – sign me up! (Plus, I am assuming that it must come with a housekeeper because everyone’s homes seem so neat and tidy.)
Then I saw the price tag…originally, almost $3,000 right off the bat when you add the delivery, special shoes, etc. plus a $468 yearly subscription ($39 per month). Yikes! I wish I could afford it – I really do but I already have a graveyard of exercise gadgetry and workout DVDs in my house (do P90X and Insanity ring a bell to anyone?). I didn’t want to splurge on a Peloton bike only for it to gather dust in the corner like my old treadmill.
UPDATE: The price has come way down and you can now get the Original Peloton Bike for much less.
So many questions ran through my head:
- What if I didn’t like it?
- Will I get bored of spinning after a few months?
- If its screen stopped working – would I have to return the whole bike?
- How jealous am I going to be when they release a new model and I want the upgrade (they follow the Apple phone upgrade model…) ?!
For me and my track record, it was too much of a gamble and I needed to dip my toes back into exercise with a less expensive bike.
So what did I do?
I created a Peloton hack. After loads of research (Amazon reviews, fitness blogs, etc.) I created my own Peloton experience by using the Peloton App with my own bike, a Sunny Spin bike, and some simple add-ons like Wahoo cadence and speed sensors. It saved me almost $2,400. So far it works great and I am really enjoying my Peloton workouts. I celebrated over 500 rides on my Sunny before upgrading to my Keiser. This is how I did it…
Step One- the Sunny Spin Bike
All reviews and research pointed to this wonderful Sunny Health spin bike:
Sure, there are cheaper bikes and more expensive bikes out there but this seemed to check all the boxes. It is a good-looking, sturdy, easy to assemble bike (I did it myself) that is fairly quiet to use. Plus it has “dual access” pedals meaning that you do not need to spend big bucks on special clip-on shoes. You can use your regular sneakers and slip them into the cages on the pedal as you would at the gym. But if you want to use clip-in-shoes, you can just use the other side of the pedal. Brilliant! Plus with Amazon Prime you get free shipping which saves you $250.
Tip: If you are on the fence, stick it in your cart and set the notification so that you get an email if there is a price-drop!
Here I am in action
We had previously converted some empty space in our basement into a home gym (I wrote a blog about my home gym, too). Interlocking rubber floor tiles, a drop ceiling, a little bright yellow paint (which I am second-guessing), and a cheapo TV bought on Black Friday. We simply put the bike in front of the TV. Another bonus is that I don’t need to plug the bike in so there is no extension cord for me to trip over.
I also considered this other good looking Sunny Health spin bike but I wasn’t sure if it was worth the extra cost.
Combined Savings: Around $2,000
Step Two – Peloton App
How to get the Peloton On-Demand Classes
I downloaded the Peloton Digital App from iTunes for $12.99 per month. Update: Its still $12.99 and event less for veterans and students. It is also now available for Android. This made more sense to me than spending $39 per month to stream the same content to the video console that is attached to the Peloton bike, especially as that device can only be used for Peloton classes! (This didn’t make sense to me – what if Peloton is not around in a year or two or if you have a problem with the software? What if better online classes come along? You never really know, right? I remember buying my 1st BlackBerry at a Radio Shack next door to my local Blockbuster near the Sears…).
Live Classes and Pre-recorded Classes
From the Peloton app, I can choose from over 10,000 pre-recorded classes or access up to 10 live daily spin classes. What’s great is that you can filter the class selection. For example, you can choose class lengths from 20 minutes to up to 120 minutes (I usually do a 30 or 45-minute class). You can also choose the theme of music you want to spin to – Country, Pop, Hip Hop, Rock, 80’s, 90’s, Live DJ (which is kind of funny), Y2K, Broadway, Lizzo, etc. What I really like is that you can select your favorite instructor – my current favorite is Emma Lovewell. She rocks. I find that the spin classes are far more intimate than the classes at the gym and with over a ten classes recorded every day, there is really something here for everyone.
UPDATE 1: The Peloton app now has awesome workouts like yoga, running, strength, boot camp, stretching, abs, HIIT cardio, core, meditation, cardio dance, and toning. There are so many classes to choose from. Really awesome stuff.
Here are screenshots of some of the Peloton App On-Demand Choices:
Running, Bootcamp, Yoga, Strength, Cardio, Running, Stretching, and Outdoor
Savings on Annual Subscription Fees: $312
Step Three – Display the Peloton Classes
To display the classes, based on all my research I considered two different options. As my Sunny didn’t come with a tablet holder, my first idea was to buy a tablet holder/mount for my iPad and attach it to my handlebars. There are many to choose from but this was the one I had my eye on:
But, I didn’t buy the mount.
Instead of mounting my tablet to the bike, I decided to simply stream the classes from my iPad to my flat-screen TV via Apple TV. You can also mirror classes to your TV or connect your device to the TV with one of these fancy Apple Lighting Adapter + AV connectors or an Amazon Firestick. That way the class is on my big screen mounted on the wall instead of my 10” iPad screen. I turn the lights low and blast the music. You almost feel like you are in the studio with the rest of the class. It’s awesome. A very immersive experience. The various methods each have pros and cons – I suggest seeing which one works best for you. Plus see my update below.
Plus, I occasionally like to catch up on my educational TV shows (OK, the Bachelor on Hulu) while exercising. You can’t do that with the Peloton bike’s built-in display – you can only watch Peloton content. This was a big deal for me; I didn’t want to be locked in. I imagine that at some point if this all takes offer that competitors like Soul Cycle or Apple Fitness will launch similar apps that I may want to try. Having the TV is also better for all the “off the bike” classes like yoga, abs, HIIT and boot camp.
(Alternatively, you could purchase a spin bike that already has a tablet holder attached like this Sunny 1805 but it is a bit more expensive. I like the TV better.)
UPDATE: I can now access the Peloton classes directly from my TV (just like Netflix) and I no longer need to stream from my iPad or iPhone. This is a very similar experience to when I stream from my iPad, however, I lose the ability to manage my account, e.g., viewing upcoming live programs, learning about the challenges, etc. I don’t know why – it’s just not there. I also no longer see the list of other riders and cannot give high-fives. As far as I know, the Peloton App can now be accessed from Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Roku TV. Despite the cons, I like it better and I never gave high fives anyway.
Savings: Well, I already owned the iPad and TV so no additional cost for me!
Step Four – Cadence
During class, Peloton instructors yell out what your “cadence” should be. This is a fancy word for describing how fast you are pedaling. For this, you need a cadence sensor. Cadence is king. I bought a combination Wahoo cadence sensor and speed sensor, attached the cadence to the arm that attaches to the left pedal (called the crank), the speed sensor to the front wheel and downloaded the free Wahoo app to my iPhone. The Wahoo app tracks your workouts, calories burned, miles biked, etc. You can even link to MyFitness Pal if you use that app to track calories. It took about 10 minutes to set up. You could also just buy the Wahoo cadence sensor without the speed sensor for a little bit cheaper.
Update 2021: Sunny now produces bikes with built in cadence sensors like this Sunny Synergy B1879. That is great, however, I’ve learned that the very basic onboard computer cycles through speed, distance, time, cadence (RPM), pulse, and calories-burned every 6 seconds which would be super distracting for me when trying to achieve a certain cadence. I wouldn’t do it.
The sensor transmits your cadence via Bluetooth to your phone. As long as your phone is visible you are good to go. I bought this MaxMiles mobile phone holder and attached it to my bike’s handlebars for ease of visibility. More on this below.
Here is what the Wahoo App looks like in the phone holder.
Update 2: With the recent update to the Peloton App, you can now display cadence and heart rate directly right to the Peloton app using your Wahoo cadence and heart rate sensors. This works great if you are using a mobile device, mirroring to your TV or using an Apple Lighting Adapter + AV connectors or an Amazon Firestick. If you stream like me, the cadence and HR not display on the TV. So long story short, I still need to use my cute phone holder.
iPad to TV by Mirroring (metrics)
iPad to TV by Streaming (no metrics)
Update 3: A reader asked that I post pictures of what the Wahoo Speed & Cadence sensors looked like on my bike. Here you go:
Cadence sensor (a bit of a tough angle for the picture):
Step Five – Sports Mat
There are now even Peloton sports mats, too.
Step Six – Weights
Some of the Peloton spin classes include awesome arm and shoulder workouts that require light weights. The Peloton bike allows you to click two weights under your seat. The Sunny bike doesn’t have that and I couldn’t find anything to attach. So when I choose a class with weights, I grab them from the portable cart next to the bike. We already owned a bunch of weights so nothing new to buy but if you are going to buy some you probably do not need anything more than 5 pounds. I use 2 and 3-pound dumbbells.
We eventually also picked up this compact weight rack but I really pinch my fingers sometimes putting the weights away. The weights are also great for strength and boot-camp classes. And now there are Peloton weights!
Step Seven – Heart Rate Monitor
To track calories burned you need a heart rate monitor. I use the Wahoo heart rate monitor that is compatible with my free Wahoo app. At the end of my workout, I can upload the number of calories burned to MyFitness Pal where I track meals, calories, weight, etc.
There is also this Peloton heart rate band. I haven’t tried it but its new on Amazon!
Step Eight – Some Optional Items
Here are a few optional items that I bought to complete my “Peloton Hack” (as ABC news called my setup):
Cart. I bought a simple small metal cart with wheels to hold my weights, a towel and a place to put my iPad. I purchased the one in the picture below but any old table or cart will do. I’ve moved it to the front since taking the picture.
Clip in Shoes. I just use my regular old sneakers but if you want to clip in, people love these Shimanos.
[UPDATE]. Disinfectant Wipes. Even with a seat cover the seat begins to smell after a while (super gross!). I highly recommend these equipment wipes for the seat, handlebars, frame, etc. If you are going to get anything, get these – trust me.
Assembly. I assembled it myself but some opt to use Amazon Home Services to have it assembled, especially if there are a lot of stairs. For example, here is a picture of a Sunny bike delivered to one of my reader’s front door. Can you manage it?
My Total Cost
My total cost? About $469 for all of the equipment plus $156/year for the Peloton class subscription on iTunes. That is almost a $2,400 savings! Not too shabby and I’d much rather spend the money on some Peloton Apparel.
Is my Peloton hack EXACTLY the same? No. Here are some main differences as I see them:
The instructors will never shout out my screen name during a live class. For a $2K+ savings, I am OK with not hearing “Good Job MomJeans_73!” during class. Plus I only seem to take the pre-recorded, on-demand classes so it doesn’t really matter to me anyway. Also, with thousands of riders taking the live classes, it is difficult to stand out in the crowd.
BIG UPDATE: Peloton App users now have a chance at being shouted at during live classes! Here is a clip of my 250th ride shout out!!
You cannot see how you stack up against others during a live class. I’ll never be in the lead and seeing how far behind I am would likely be demotivating for me anyway. In fact, some instructors recommend that you turn it off.
If you have ever taken a spin class you will be familiar with resistance. It is how heavy your wheel feels. When going uphill the instructor will tell you to turn your resistance knob to the right – around 50-60 resistance. If you are on a straight road, 20-35 resistance. The Peloton bike displays your resistance on its screen. Without it, you need to get a feel for the resistance just like in a spin class at your gym. That is how spin classes have always worked and it is absolutely fine. I have found that on my Sunny cycle every turn of my resistance knob equals about 10. So, if the instructor tells you to add 10, that is one crank.
I also make sure that I am following the rhythm of the instructor. If they are slowly going uphill and I am cruising along, I turn my knob to make resistance more difficult. It is really easy to get the hang of it.
There are some spin bikes out there that do include the resistance but they are significantly more expensive. For example, the Keiser M3i that I bought after 500 rides on my Sunny displays resistance, cadence, heart rate, etc. on its built-in computer. A great bike but way outside of my budget.
My Results so Far
I have been cycling for five months (UPDATE: 4 YEARS!) with my own spin bike and the Peloton App. Both my husband and I spin several times a week. We shed weight, are sleeping better, and are enjoying our workouts. We especially enjoyed saving a load of money.
I’d love to hear how you are getting along and whether you found this review helpful. Please leave a comment!
Update 3: Peloton is now also available in Canada and in the United Kingdom! Welcome to the community, England and Canada riders, you are going to love it!
Big Update: I bought a disco ball and its amazing!
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