In-Depth Review of the Peloton Digital App

I joined Peloton Digital back at the very end of November 2019; three months to be exact! I signed up originally for the FREE 30-day trial to see if I would be motivated enough to workout at home with their digital videos, as I was searching for an alternative to crossfit.

With the Peloton Digital App Subscription, you do not need to own the Peloton Bike, Tread, or any of their branded equipment. It’s a “bring your own” type of service and the instructors are great at giving you cues that’ll work on any equipment you have.

When I originally signed up, I was using an old iPad (version one). Peloton worked fine on the old device. It was priced to be $19.99 per month after my trial ended when I started. At the time, they didn’t offer Apple iWatch support, Chromecast, AppleTV or any other streaming support. I already had at my home a used treadmill, workout mats, and free weights (not yet a bike).

Prior to joining a local crossfit box, I had worked out at home for a number of years. Albeit, not consistently. I did video workouts such as Insanity, T25, and considered P90X and others. I enjoyed the workouts. I was committed to working out regularly for various periods of time, but watching the same videos over and over became boring and no longer motivating.

I did various outdoor running training programs over the past 17 years, and eventually signed up for crossfit to try to push myself into a regular routine of 3-4 days per week. Crossfit was great, but the intensity was a bit too much for my body to handle, so I started to search for alternate options last fall.

Alternative to Crossfit?!

I visited local gyms, several of whom I had been a member years prior throughout my fitness journey the last 17 or so years. Any gym would be far less expensive than crossfit, but I had to have the desire to show up to their facility. I already owned a used treadmill (that never became a clothing rack! #win!), so I was searching for a way to use what I had, without committing to a new place I needed to go to, pay for a year, etc. Leaving the house was sometimes difficult with young children, and Chris still does crossfit classes that add to our coordination of schedules.

Peloton enters my world!

Enter Peloton! The first week using the Peloton Digital App… I was hooked. I found I truly enjoyed the trainers and thought the workouts were great. I started out my first workout with a 45 minute intermediate run on the treadmill. Whew! That was wild, and really good. I was impressed that I was able to do it, and complete it. From there, I felt confident I could handle many of their workouts and built myself a schedule.

Inside of three weeks, I was using the app 4-5 times per week for treadmill workouts and strength workouts. I really wanted to try their spin classes, but I didn’t have a bike. I thought long and hard about cycling, did tons of research, and bought a lower cost spin bike that I absolutely love! Prior to their classes, I’ve never taken a spin class (and I wasn’t huge on bike riding outdoors).

6-Week Intro to Cycling on Peloton

Since mid-December I went through Peloton’s 6-week “Intro to Cycling” course and completed all of the workouts. I learned a lot about cycling, form, intensity, the types of workouts offered, instructors who I connected with, and improved quickly on how well I could handle tougher workouts. I learned about how to adjust my personal spin bike’s resistance to match instructors as my bike has “8” turns on the knob to their 1-100% numbers. Now I have a good range of what feels right based on what they call out.

My tush went from being numb and sore in the first few minutes to being easily able now to handle a 30 minute ride without “out of the saddle” movements no problem.

I kind of am obsessed with getting on my bike!

Kate

I miss it when I do treadmill workouts and I’ve found a few instructors I absolutely love: Ally Love, Emma Lovewell, Jess King (she’s tough!), and Tunde Oyeneyin. Jenn Sherman has been good, too!

I am looking forward to the spring weather and seeing how well my cycling has improved to make outdoor bike riding more enjoyable. Especially since I’ve made it through the phase of getting your tush used to riding. I never was able to go long periods of time on my bike before.

Digital App Subscription Price Decreased!

Since my 30-day trial in December, Peloton had lowered the monthly subscription rate to $12.99 per month at the end of December. They’ve also provided support for Apple iWatch integration (Chris bought me one for Christmas!), Chromecast and a variety of other stream-to-tv options.

I primarily use my iPhone 7 to do my workouts connected to my iWatch for HR. My Sunny SB-1805 is awesome and quiet, and I’ve added the Wahoo Cadence Sensor which has been spot on and connects to the Peloton Digital App. The only thing with my setup I do not have access to is the competitive side of the “Leaderboard”, and distance on the bike since I bought one without an onboard computer (on purpose). I do see who else is working out and can high-five people!

My Equipment Lineup

Here’s the gear I use for Peloton in a nutshell:

  • Used Pro-form Treadmill (0-12 incline, 0-12 speed)
  • Sunny SB-1805 spin bike (magnetic resistance/belt drive)
  • Wahoo Cadence Sensor (added to the bike)
  • iPhone 7 / iPad v.1
  • iWatch series 3 for HR
  • Dumbbells 2lbs – 15lbs
  • Workout/Yoga Mats
  • 36 inch Foam Roller
  • Towels, water bottles
  • Other equipment from my time at crossfit:
    • WOD jump rope
    • DIY pull-up bar outdoors via Chris
    • Go Ruck! Rucksacks w/weights
    • Running packs, etc.

Preload Option

On iOS, I’ve taken advantage of the “preload” feature to download workouts ahead of time. This isn’t the same as “offline” they say, as you need some wifi to use it. Some mornings I’ve had my internet trip up a bit mid-workout, so the preload has been solid.

* Side note * From what I’ve read and experienced, it appears Peloton only needs wifi to sync at the start of your preloaded workout to prove membership before playing the workouts. (Not confirmed yet with their support.)

I tested this out for outdoor workouts as I don’t have unlimited data on my phone and it’s worked perfectly if I start it at my house on wifi and then it re-syncs the data when I’m back on wifi at home. The stats, GPS, etc all load show up in my workout after, while I have access to the live data during and on my watch. I’m curious to try this out when I’m at a hotel in a few weeks that might have limited wifi to see if I can get access to a preloaded workout with just a tad bit of wifi to start!

I have done a few live rides, but I like to know ahead of time the difficulty level of workouts before I do them. Each on-demand ride offers some insight for like-ability (which I ignore) and difficulty 1-10 from other riders. I rely on that feedback from other riders based on my plans for the week and I share my experience as well at the end of each workout. Live rides have at times cut out via my wifi, which can be frustrating mid-climb!

Building My Own Program: Listening to My Body

I build my weekly schedule by preloading workouts ahead of time for the week so I can make a plan (with a few lighter walk options if needed) and know each night before what I’m going to do the next morning.

Mid-January I wanted to really kick my workouts up a notch and make them an important part of my day. I felt so motivated and encouraged by the instructors, that I decide to shift my lifestyle back to being a morning exerciser (I did this pre-babies a decade ago driving to a gym at 5am).

This means that I get up at 5am Monday thru Friday (6 or 7am on weekends) and workout right in my home. Sometimes I’m tired, so I’ll just do stretching and take it easy. I don’t have to drive in the dark/cold either!

It’s time for myself; it has been a major start to my day. I feel more confident, energetic, and have lost a little more weight. I am doing for myself before I spend the day doing for everyone else (my day job is a LOT of giving of myself). It’s also encouraged my children to want to be more active, trying out the treadmill or the bike on occasion. I like that they see me taking care of my body and hope it encourages them to be more healthy as they grow.

For February, I started their “Intro to 5k” program (and printed out their Intro to Marathon schedule), although I think I need a little more prep to get my body able to handle the harder runs in the mornings.

I’ve been alternating those workouts with walks, hikes, cycling classes, or stretching/foam rolling. I’m still adjusting to more intensity at the start of my day, but each week it’s been easier to commit to myself. I am loving the “bedtime” feature on my iPhone which I never used before. It wakes me so gently, but usually my dogs now are up before the alarm!

I’ve also given up on the hot yoga passes I previously purchased. I think I injured my hamstring at a class, the rooms are always over full and stuffy. It not relaxing at all when people are knocking into you inches away. The classes are 75 minutes long and just don’t fit into my schedule so easily (I kind of like the Peloton yoga better!). I have a few passes left, but the cost to workout ratio I got for the passes I paid for and used already is pretty inexpensive even if I don’t use the rest… #facepalm.

The Peloton Digital Website

I wanted to share some screenshots of what the Peloton Digital Subscription looks like from a computer point-of-view. You can use their app on your phone, an iPad/tablet or the computer if you don’t have their equipment. The website and iOS phone app are pretty similar in layout.

The website and app have been greatly improved since joining just a few short months ago. The website doesn’t appear to have the preloaded workout options, but it’s simple enough on my phone to preload and find those workouts to use when I workout.

The main page when you sign-in is a list of currently upcoming workouts you can choose to “count me in” which gives you a little alert when they are starting and the category grouping of all the on-demand pre-recorded workouts.

Peloton offers strength, yoga, meditation, cardio, stretching, cycling, outdoor (walking/running), running, walking, and bootcamp classes.

Filtering On-Demand Workouts

You can access their various workouts by category or you can filter by your bookmarked classes, what you’ve taken, class lengths, types, instructors, music genre, and more. I typically sort for length when I’m prepping for my week ahead with preloading, or by instructor. I’m sure in time I’ll look for specific music, and I do bookmark workouts they have had that were fun around the holidays and seasonal events to do later. Best of the decade music rides anyone?

Live Class Schedule

The schedule page is what is upcoming on the schedule for the day and the week ahead. You can go through which type of workout and see what you might like to do live in the coming days. I don’t use this too often, as I use more on-demand, but it’s fun to see if any live rides are coordinating with my plans.

There are definitely a lot more cycling or treadmill classes more often than say bootcamp or yoga. It appears though more and more are being added and they are now offering international or other time zone rides. I cannot wait to try out maybe a British instructor’s ride!

Peloton App Challenges

Peloton apparently had challenges in the past for those who owned their equipment, but since I’ve joined they recently added Challenges to the digital app subscriber options, too! There is an annual challenge for “minutes” on the platform to reach 5,000 minutes (or 5k) for 2020.

Now, there are monthly challenges in addition to the annual. I’ve completed monthly challenges for how many days worked out with the app which gives you a low baseline of 5+ days, or I’ve had access to mileage challenges for 10+ miles each month.

I don’t have access to any cycling challenges, I’m guessing since I don’t have a way to track distance or output on my bike. With the iWatch I can track run/walk distance, so I’m assuming that’s why I see the running challenges show up.

Most recently, they threw in a “Leap into Action” challenge for 7 days in a row doing any workout. I’m sure most of these awards and challenges are to keep people motivated and keep retention higher for stock prices since they are a public company. Their current retention appears to be far higher than any gym facility membership rate.

I’ve found I’m oddly motivated by the little “awards” Apple Activity gives me for monthly challenges, and with these as well I’m excited to see where I can get to in the way of bronze, silver, gold, or hitting short weekly targets.

Digital awards are fun, and since I love to clean out clutter from my house, they don’t take up as much space as all of my running medals! Plus, my children ask about them all the time. Between Apple Activity and them wanting to see my circles, or if I recently beat a friend in a challenge, to looking at the medals for Peloton, they think it’s all a fun game!

Your Profile

In your profile you can see how many of each type of workout you’ve done on their app. You can also see a snapshot of your last 30 days of workouts. They keep track of streaks and other fun things there as well. You can see your list of followers or who you follow, etc.

What I’d like to see in the profile is the ability to review more than a 30-day snapshot. I’d love to pull out for a longer picture to look back at the last few months of workouts much like I could do with Garmin or now the Apple Activity app. The last 30 days is great, but more of a bigger picture can let me know how many days I’m using just this service as opposed to comparison with my watch data.

In addition, you can see your history of workouts, but there is no easy way to filter them. When you click “view workouts” you get a most recent list of workouts and then have to scroll down to see more. I would love to quick search cycling workouts, or instructors I’ve taken before, or look at the list of just “walking” workouts instead of “all.”

They do offer this information via filtering in the On-Demand workout section (you can filter by “taken”), so there is a way to see this. I’d just love to see this transfer over to another way to do the same via your profile section.

Milestones

At the bottom of your profile you can see your milestones. This is where people mention they are getting their 100th ride, or other big milestones. I’ve passed through a few already which is fun!

It isn’t perfect though. I did test out some videos to see what a “bootcamp” was like, without taking the class and my badge for my 1st bootcamp stuck despite deleting the workout shortly after skimming through it. That is frustrating, as I would love to preview a workout before committing to it, especially if it means it’ll be a milestone!

In addition, they have other special events throughout. So, while I wasn’t a part of Homecoming last year, I did do an archived ride from that time and earned a badge. It’s another fun way to track how much you’re accomplishing without having to do some specific race or otherwise. I find it a nice way to feel like I’m making strides in a healthier direction without the stress of an event on the calendar.

Speaking of events on the calendar…

Peloton Homecoming

I’m planning to go to Peloton’s Homecoming in May!

Homecoming used to be called Peloton’s Home Rider Invasion. It appears last year they changed it to Homecoming. To be honest, I had no idea Peloton even existed or that it’s a company that’s been around for more than 5 years. I’m glad I did find it at a time when I needed something that fit my lifestyle, my needs, motivated me, and offered me the option without special branded equipment to take advantage of ever changing fitness events and options. I feel like I found it at just the right time for me, and at the right time for the company to start offering and growing in new ways that fit what I needed.

I am excited and super nervous at the same time for Homecoming. I don’t know anyone who uses a Peloton, and I’m not really connected with anyone on the service. I don’t use FB (deleted it 8 years ago), so I have no way to connect with other riders directly (which is OK). I do lurk around the reddit for Peloton to see what others are talking about or to look for fun new rides/events coming up.

I’m hoping to participate in the full weekend of Homecoming events from the Community 5k, to checking out their warehouse sale and going to their workshops. I signed up for a live cycle or run in their studio, so I’m excited to see where that all falls. In the coming weeks I’ll know more about the schedule, and I’ve already booked my hotel! I’m hoping maybe I’ll make a new Peloton friend in the process.

In the end…

I truly do love Peloton and what they have to offer. I am sure over time the service will change, or instructors will come in or move on, but right now I am loving what they offer. I can understand how people have come to complete hundreds of rides or workouts, or use it for cross-training for other outdoor sports. I have yet to read a review of Peloton (usually of their equipment and catty comments about priciness of it all) where the reviewer didn’t say they were going to miss it or were already making plans to buy their own or sign-up for the service.

Peloton offers for me the convenience of working out at home, with a young family, at any time of the day. They offer a price point that easily fits my budget for the amount of use I get from their services (workouts are typically under $1!). I researched Peloton heavily before trying them out, as I didn’t want to join something I would later be disappointed by it’s shutting down or selling out.

I feel confident they are listening to members, growing for the Digital App streaming space, and while they may not make a ton of money from their branded equipment, the subscriptions alone should provide positive growth. Their business model works for me, for my personal needs, and for what I view as a good way to keep people invested and create a “community.” Crossfit offered a similar community, which I do miss, and this provides it on a much wider scale. Peloton challenges me in new ways. They are constantly offering new options (latest is sleep meditation), and give a great value for the money. The fact that you can BYOB is awesome!

I look forward to continuing with Peloton for the foreseeable future, and incorporating more outdoor activities as the weather warms up. Last summer I used my paddle board all of one time, because most days I needed to “save my energy” to get through my evening crossfit workouts or I was sore from a previous day.

With Peloton, I’ll be able to adjust my workouts to fit my needs, work more specialized areas of my body to compliment my current passions (running, cycling, lifting, cardio, yoga, paddle boarding, etc) and stay all around healthy. My goal is lifelong health and fitness, and so far since this new switch I’ve lost 18+ lbs (since November), adjusted my lifestyle and feel happier than ever about my decision. I hope you find the right fit for your fitness and health, too!

Maybe I’ll see you on Peloton or out on the water paddling.

Let me know if you use Peloton!