Ever since the global coronavirus pandemic began, the interest in working out at home has exploded, due to both the closing of gyms and fitness studies and the fact that so many people are staying home. Sales of all kinds of home fitness equipment, from weights to aerobic machines, have increased dramatically, and so has demand for virtual classes.
Personally, I miss going to the yoga studio, and have tried several virtual alternatives for home-based classes. For every kind of specialty – especially yoga – there are myriad competing apps, but I was already doing in-home cycling classes and have also been tinkering with meditation. There are fewer good apps that span all these different pursuits, and among these, some are free, but the better ones require subscriptions, and this is the classic case of getting what you pay for. Top quality instructors, high production values and a large library of classes don’t come cheap, and it’s hard to find good reliable ones for free.
That’s why I have increasingly used the Peloton app as my one stop shopping resource for whatever kind of workout I want. Admittedly, I already had a Peloton bike, so the app subscription is included in my membership. But it’s even cheaper if you just get the app than if you have the hardware subscription, and while Peloton makes excellent bikes (they were quickly sold out this spring) and treadmills, you can still get the great classes and use them on any brand of machines. There are also plenty of classes that don’t require any machines at all. In addition, if you were to going to any studio classes, the price pales in comparison – unlimited monthly classes cost far less than a single cycling or yoga or fitness session of any kind at most studios. If you do return to the gym or return to the road and hotel fitness centers, you can also use the app there on whatever equipment they have, though better hotels are beginning to stock Peloton bikes.
Peloton has been wildly popular since it began, and the company’s business model has always been to hire top instructors and make high quality, studio-filmed classes available to you both live and on demand. Over the years, the library has grown enormously and there are more than ten thousand classes, with more being added all the time. The instructors are generally excellent, but there are also so many in each discipline that you can find a couple of favorites and just stick with them, and conversely, if there is someone you don’t like, you never have to do another one of their classes.
Peloton has updated and expanded its offerings, which currently includes yoga, meditation, strength training, stretching, running, bootcamp, cardio, and outdoor running classes. All of this is in addition to the industry gold standard for indoor cycling. The outdoor classes for running are different from the treadmill ones, and while most offerings are video, the former are audio-only. Within each category there is a wide range of options for different abilities. In cycling that means classes of greatly varied duration and difficulty, specialties like hill climbs and intervals, even classes led by guest pro cyclists. In yoga it means beginner, intermediate and advanced levels in different styles such as yoga flow and power yoga, plus sub-specialties like restorative and prenatal yoga. The choices really are staggering.
In addition to all the classes, there are general fitness tools such as in-app metrics that let you track your fitness progress, monthly activity and workouts. There are also a lot of great little features built throughout the platform. For example, when selecting a cycling class, you can short by genre of music, and then within any given class review the entire playlist. If you are going to do a 45-minute classic rock ride, it might as well be to songs you like.
Just last month, well regarded tech website TechRadar.com did a ranking of the best home fitness apps, and Peloton was number one. The key factors they cited for rating it so highly were “Huge choice of workouts; Live and recorded activities; Indoor and outdoor options; Reasonably priced,” and they noted the wide range of supported platforms, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and AirPlay. I do the cycling classes through the bike’s built in monitor and the yoga and meditation classes on my Samsung Galaxy phone or a tablet. It’s only thirteen dollars a month – after the 30-day free trial. That’s hard to beat!