A new fitness concept is about to hit the UK... but at £2k is the Peloton worth it?
It has gained cult status in the States, but is a new connected home exercise bike actually better than a live spin class? Liz Connor hops on board and goes for a ride
Generally speaking, it's not the torturous sit-ups, the towel-bitingly difficult squats or the bootcamp-style humiliation that makes me think twice about virtuously booking a gym class. No, what often leads me to continue to lay on the sofa rather than do exercise, is the thought of getting up and having to tackle the journey to my favourite fitness studio on the other side of town.
So, I was intrigued to hear about a new home fitness concept called Peloton that promises to give as good a workout as some of the UK's most in-demand boutique studios.
Not to be confused with a road bicycle race, Peloton is the moniker for a new type of connected exercise bike that links you up with live-stream spinning classes from Peloton studios in New York, and soon London too.
The idea, dreamt up in 2012 by CEO John Foley and eventually launched in 2014, was to provide the same high-octane spin experience as the likes of Boom Cycle and Digme at home.
The cult of Peloton has already caught on with celebrities like David Beckham, Joe Wicks and Rita Ora.
It's also proving to be highly lucrative.
Last year the company reported $400m in sales, and it's not hard to imagine how, when you factor in that the bike costs from $2,245 in the US, with a monthly subscription to unlimited live and archived classics costing $39, and then there's accompanying apps, shoes and an activewear range too.
So, is it actually worth splashing out on?
On first inspection, Peloton looks the same as your average spin bike - a carbon and steel frame with a weighted flywheel at the front to add or decrease resistance - the big difference being it has a 22-inch touch-operated screen perched on the handlebars.
I mount the saddle, clip my cleats into the pedals and start scrolling through the menu. There's a serious amount of choice on offer; each bike has a library of over 10,000 on-demand classes, as well as a rolling timetable of up to 14 daily live classes you can add to a personalised schedule.
You can filter your choices, specifying everything from length of ride to type of class, difficulty and even the mood you're in - there's a spin class for every music taste, from classic rock and indie to hip hop and trap. As well as spinning, there are also "beyond the ride" floor workouts such as stretching and yoga. Overwhelmed, I plump for the safe option: A 30-minute ride with instructor Cody Rigsby, soundtracked to Britney, Lady Gaga and Madonna.
Peloton's fitness instructors are all toned, enthusiastic and impossibly beautiful, and many of them have become overnight Instagram celebrities in their own right. Head instructor Robin Arzon is so popular her indoor cycling class has attracted a record 35,000 Peloton members, a class big enough to fill London's Olympic Velodrome five times over.
As well as being a smoother ride than other bikes I've tried, Peloton is a data lover's dream. During my class, it displays all sorts of helpful stats including my speed, distance, how fast I'm pedalling, the calories I've burned and the resistance I'm on.
These stats are all recorded so I can try to beat my scores on future rides and set myself monthly goals.
There's also a leaderboard that pits you against users that are cycling alongside you in real-time, and an all-time leaderboard to fire up some friendly competition. FYI: Apparently Michael Phelps competes under an alias to keep his fitness up now he's no longer swimming.
Rigsby regularly shouts words of encouragement over the top of Britney, while giving handy pointers on when to turn up the resistance. On live classes, the instructors often look into the camera and call out your name, encouraging you to pedal harder and making the experience even more intimate than going to a regular gym class.
The quality of the sound and audio really makes it feel like you're at the front of the studio, but because you're spinning in private, there's no self-conscious fears about how well you're performing.
The 30-minute experience flies by with the same energy you get from a live spinning experience.
As my session ends I'm covered in sweat, struggling for breath but feeling euphoric.
There's no denying that Peloton isn't cheap: it's aimed at the type of busy working people who don't have the luxury of drifting to the gym at their leisure, but still want to enjoy keeping fit.
That being said, it's both temptingly convenient and highly addictive.
If you don't live near a cycling studio that can deliver a high-octane spinning experience, or you feel uncomfortable getting sweaty in a public class, this could very well be the generous Christmas gift to yourself you didn't know you needed.
The Peloton indoor cycling studio bike launches in the UK on September 25 and will be priced £1,895, plus £39 per month for unlimited class subscription.
Customers in the UK can register their interest at onepeloton.com and also sign up for exclusive trials ahead of launch.