This post contains updates to my original “Peloton Alternative” post.
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…almost $3,000 right off the bat when you add 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. I didn’t want to splurge on a Peloton bike only for it to gather dust in the corner like my old treadmill.
So many questions ran through my head:
- What if I didn’t like it?
- What if I got bored of spinning after a few months?
- Will it come with an IT Dept.? What 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 (like I do with the iPhones..)?!
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?
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. Some call it a Peloton Hack, others a Poor Person’s Peloton. I don’t care what it is called – so far it works great and I am really enjoying my Peloton workouts. In fact, I just celebrated my 500th ride on my Sunny. This is how I did it…
Step One – Creating Your Poor Person’s Peloton with 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 $125+ 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 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. 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 doesn’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 about 14 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 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, etc.
What I really like is that you can select your favorite instructor. I find that the spin classes are far more intimate than the classes at the gym and with over a dozen 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.
Here are screenshots of some of the Peloton App On-Demand Choices:
Cycling, Running, Bootcamp, Yoga, Strength, Cardio, Stretching, and Outdoor
Savings on Annual Subscription Fees: $312
Step Three – How to Display the Peloton Classes
To display the classes, I 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, 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 off that competitors like Soul Cycle 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, 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.)
Savings: Well, I already owned the iPad and TV so no additional cost for me!
UPDATE: I can now access the Peloton classes directly from my TV (just like Netflix) and I no longer need to stream. 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 readers 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.
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.
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.
iPad to TV by Mirroring (metrics displayed)
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 Streaming (no metrics displayed)
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 for your Poor Person’s Peloton
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. The weights are also great for the rest of the strength and boot-camp classes.
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. You can also use Apple Health, etc.
Step Eight – Some Optional Items for Your Poor Person’s Peloton
Here are a few optional items that I bought to complete my “Peloton Hack” (as ABC news called my setup):
Bike Seat. I’ll admit it. My bum hurt after a few classes so I bought two seat cushions (a His & Hers for hygiene reasons). Occasional washing is required.
[UPDATE]. Disinfectant Wipes. Even with a seat cover the seat begins to smell after a while (super gross!). I highlight recommend these equipment wipes for the seat, handlebars, frame, etc. If you are going to get anything, get these – trust me. These also come in handy during a global pandemic.
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.
Clip in Shoes. I just use my regular old sneakers but if you want to clip in, people rave about these Shimanos.
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?
Total Cost of my Poor Person’s Peloton
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!
Is my Poor Person’s Peloton hack EXACTLY the same? No. Here are some main differences as I see them:
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. This does not bother me in the least.
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.
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!!
If you have ever taken a spin class you will be familiar with resistance. It is how heavy your wheel feels. If you are going uphill the instructor will tell you to turn your resistance knob to the right somewhere around 50 to 60 resistance. If a straight road, 20 to 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 he or she is going very slowly up a hill and I am cruising along, that means I need to turn my knob to make it 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 displays resistance, cadence, heart rate, etc. on its built in computer. A great bike but way outside of my budget.
My Poor Person’s Peloton Results so Far
I am about five months into cycling using the Peloton App with my own bike and both my husband and I spin several times a week. We have shed a lot of weight, are sleeping better and are really 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, so please leave a comment and let me know about your own ‘Poor Person’s Peloton!’
Big Update: I bought this disco ball and its amazing!
Disclaimer: My Sipping & Shopping blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
- Updated March 2020
- Original post November, 13, 2018