What I’ve Learned From 100 Peloton Rides
“You got this, boss.”
When I clip into the pedals of my Peloton bike, those four words get me going. But I can’t take credit for them. As my fellow Peloton riders know, that motivational phrase is courtesy of instructor Ally Love. And regardless of whose class I’m taking on any given day, I get on my bike like a boss.
It was the boss in me who decided to go for 100 rides by the end of 2018. The countdown (or countUP, really) started in mid-July, and I reached my goal just slightly behind schedule, on Jan. 2.
That’s 100 rides in about 170 days.
Now, as I work toward my new goal of 200 rides in 2019, I’m taking what I learned from the first 100 with me.
It’s a Community
My biggest worry about the bike was that I would miss the feeling of riding with other people, sweating together in the same room, deriving energy from our shared experience. Would I feel isolated? Would I lose out on some essential group ride vibe? Could an instructor on a screen actually motivate me?
As it turns out, there’s a community aspect to Peloton that completely surprised me. It’s partly thanks to the leaderboard, which lists the user names and locations of everyone else taking the ride. You can give an electronic high five to other riders and/or request to follow them. I like to give high fives to anyone celebrating a milestone ride, my fellow Chicagoland riders, and people near me on the leaderboard.
It might sound silly or insignificant, but getting a high five from someone is always an inspirational moment that reminds me I’m not riding alone.
Then there are shout-outs from the instructors. I actually shrieked when Ally Love said she liked my user name during a ride. Yes, she was thousands of miles away in New York City, but it truly felt like she had walked into my home and told me I was the number one boss.
And let’s not forget the Facebook group. With 154,000 members and counting, it’s a place to ask questions, encourage other riders, celebrate accomplishments, and put faces to user names. Subgroups, like the Official Peloton Mom Group, PeloPets Page, and Pelo-Foodies, mean you can find your own personal cheer squad.
It’s a Challenge
I saw a Reddit thread once from a hater who scoffed at the idea that riding a stationary bike could be physically challenging. Well, buster, I’ve got news for you. Peloton rides are freaking hard! Certainly there are beginner rides, intro rides, and low-impact rides, but if you’re coming to the bike for a serious sweat session, you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve been a several-time-a-week gym spinner since 2007. I consider myself to be in decent shape. And yet, Peloton rides routinely kick my butt. After huffing and puffing my way through my first sprint-interval-packed 20-minute ride, I realized that shorter classes can be as difficult (if not more difficult!) than 45- or 60-minute rides.
The old me wouldn’t have believed that I could get a solid workout in 20 minutes. The new me knows better. Which brings me to the third lesson.
I assumed that setting up a Peloton bike in my bedroom would make it super easy to exercise at home. But proximity doesn’t always mean results. After all, I have a gym in my building that I hardly ever use. And my previous attempts to do at-home workouts never lasted long.
Peloton is different. I can’t wait to get on the bike every day. Part of my joy is a direct result of having a one-year-old daughter. After she was born, my regular gym routine went kaput. I went from five days a week at the gym to once a week, if I was lucky. I missed going to spin class, but by the time 6:30 pm rolled around, I was exhausted, not to mention fully enmeshed in my daughter’s evening bedtime routine.
When my husband surprised me with a Peloton for my birthday, I nearly cried tears of happiness. The bike has been a total game changer for both my physical health and my sanity. Now, as soon as our daughter goes down for a nap, I jump on the bike. I’ve learned to make the most of my time (will she sleep for 45 minutes or two hours?) by taking 20- and 30-minute rides, 4-5 times a week. As Ally Love always says: “Let’s hit it, quit it, say we did it.” Amen sister!
It’s Competitive … If You Want it to Be
The former college athlete within me thrills at climbing the leaderboard, but it’s not always my primary goal. After all, some days are meant for recovery or just dancing on the bike (thank you, Cody Rigsby, my favorite groove-ride instructor!). The leaderboard can be hidden or ignored.
When I’m in the mood for competition, however, the leaderboard is key. I always filter my fellow riders by age and gender so I’m competing among my peers. Then I set a personal goal to finish in the top quartile of those riders. I really appreciate the filter function because aiming for, say, the top 20 out of 80 riders feels more doable to me than striving for the top 500 out of 2,000 riders.
Occasionally I click on one of the usernames ahead of me on the leaderboard to give myself an extra nudge. Can I match their cadence, output, and resistance? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But it’s always there as an option.
My biggest competitor is myself. The leaderboard shows your personal best for that length of ride, and there’s nothing like being close to a new PR to make me push. I’m also motivated by other metrics and badges: daily and weekly streaks (I’m at 33 weeks as of this writing), monthly mileage challenges, highest output in a ride, etc.
And, of course, total number of rides. There’s nothing like seeing instructor Robin Arzon pause mid-pedal, shout, “Hold up!”, shake her head in awe, and announce that someone is celebrating 1,000+ rides. “I salute you,” she’ll say. “Daaayum!”
With Peloton’s community by my side, its plethora of challenging classes, unmatched convenience, and competition pushing me to my personal bests, there’s a decent chance that Robin will be talking about my 1,000th ride one day. I sure hope so.