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Is Peloton worth the money?

A woman on a bike works out

A peloton is defined as the main group or pack of cyclists that bunch together during a cycling race. There’s no doubting the company that bears this name has accumulated a massive peloton of its own.

What began for Peloton as a way to offer remote spin classes has exploded — surely buoyed in no small part by an ever-evolving need for engaging home-based exercise options — into a fitness empire spawning legions of devotees and competitors. Peloton’s famous commercials, replete with toned young bodies glistening with sweat and self-satisfaction, have carved out a controversial place in the public consciousness.

Since its inception in 2012, Peloton has been a cornerstone of the digital fitness age, now offering treadmill-based programs in addition to the familiar bike. According to some estimates, Peloton now boasts more than 3 million subscribers — a number expected to double in 2021.

That number speaks for itself, but it’s not the only such number in the mix. Whether bike or treadmill, Peloton requires a substantial upfront investment in equipment and an ongoing monthly subscription fee from there on out.

So, is Peloton really worth the money, or is it more sizzle than steak? Here’s what you need to know about this fitness phenomenon before you decide to take the plunge.

A woman does a home smart bike workout

How does it work?

Each Peloton bike or treadmill comes equipped with a computer monitor that streams a host of live or pre-recorded classes right into your living room (or wherever you exercise).

Classes are notoriously challenging, with instructors bent on motivating you beyond your normal limits. With a raft of classes and instructors, music playlists to explore, personal bests to surpass, and a leaderboard to measure yourself against the rest of the pack, there’s always plenty to help keep workouts fresh — that all-important key to a sustainable exercise routine.

So you could say that the Peloton program, and not just the workouts themselves, can be a great benefit for subscribers.

How much does it cost?

Peloton has seen controversy for setting price points beyond the reach of rank-and-file Americans. Equipment can cost $2,000 or more, with all-access subscriptions costing $39 per month on top of that.

Compare that to a gym membership, which averages around $50 per month with no equipment to buy, and the comparison is clear. And that’s to say nothing of the far lower relative costs of purchasing a non-Peloton treadmill or stationary bike. Peloton may get results, but only for those who can fork over considerable cash.

A woman works out in her living room
Yuliya Yesina/Shutterstock

Does it get results?

There’s no arguing that Peloton does what it claims to do: Motivate subscribers into a regular routine and new levels of cardiovascular fitness.

As with any exercise program, results can vary widely and differ from person to person. Everyone’s fitness and personal situations are unique, so it stands to reason that exercise preferences are no different.

There are no official Peloton stats on calories burned or total miles biked, so gauging its success becomes more of an anecdotal exercise. So, there’s no definitive way for the general public to make definitive judgments on the results Peloton actually delivers to its subscribers.

With that in mind, the internet is jam-packed with people who swear loyalty to their Peloton bikes and the instructors who have become fitness celebrities in their own right.

Users rave about Peloton’s cardiovascular benefits, with the lung-busting workouts a perfect option for people who aren’t willing or able to bike long distances outdoors or attend a spin class in person.

Is Peloton the answer to all my fitness needs?

Not quite.

Peloton classes are designed to impart motivation and cardiovascular training — something it does exceedingly well. But a well-rounded exercise profile doesn’t consist of cardio alone.

For example, strength training is another important component of any fitness plan. Ditto yoga and activities that improve flexibility and other aspects of our overall health and well-being.

Also, as diverse as Peloton’s offerings are, monotony can still become an issue. Experts suggest mixing in a swim or a run outdoors, if possible. This is particularly important for those looking to lose weight, as switching up activities keeps your body out of an exercise rut, which can lead to weight loss plateaus.

Bottom line: Peloton is a great investment — if it’s an investment you’re in a position to make. Plenty of subscribers swear by the service and its benefits.

But even if you take the leap, you may not want to drop that gym membership just yet if you’re looking to keep strength training and other fitness factors in the mix. And if Peloton is out of your financial reach, don’t forget that a veritable boatload of other equipment, activities, and experiences are readily available.

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