Your First Peloton Ride: What to Expect (COVID Update)

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Get prepared for your first Peloton ride (and be ready to drink the kool-aid). In June 2019, I wrote a review of the Peloton bike. My conclusion was that it was not worth the money and I would not buy one. WOW have things changed!

In a COVID world, a Peloton bike was absolutely worth it to me, and I am so incredibly happy I got one.

I’m updating my thoughts on Peloton, and providing some additional insights after having had the bike for 7 weeks and completing 50 classes.

Find me on the leaderboard as moorebalanced!

The Basics

With Peloton, riders can choose from live classes or one of the past live classes.  Peloton a really large variety of options. On my first Peloton ride, I was surprised by not only how many classes there were available, but how many people were doing the pre-recorded class I chose at the same time as me. Even knowing how popular Peloton is, I didn’t expect about 35 members riding the same ride as me. Peloton has a huge user base, even larger than I expected.

While Peloton is best known for their at-home cycling programs, they also have running (outdoor and treadmill), walking, cardio, bootcamp, strength, yoga, meditation, and stretching programs.  The strength classes are between 5 and 30 minutes, with a lot in the 10-20 minute range.  I have done the yoga, meditation, and stretching classes, and they’ve all had excellent options.

When choosing a class, riders can filter by length, class type, instructor, and music genre.  It will take some trial and error to figure out which class type and instructors you really vibe with. Peloton offers a quiz to figure out which classes you might like best, and it’s worth taking while you wait for your Peloton to arrive.

There are 3 ways I access the classes: the bike’s touchscreen, the Peloton iPhone app, and the Peloton app on Roku. The bike has a better search option where you can type in a search term instead of the filtering menus, so I can search for my EDM, disco, and tabata classes easily. From the bike I can also screen mirror to other devices that support Miracast (like my Roku and LG smart TV). A benefit of screen mirroring versus using the native Roku app is you can leverage the search functionality on your bike to choose your class with the bike.

While I can filter by class type (beginner, metrics, pro cyclist, low impact, power zone, intervals, heart rate zone, rhythm, live DJ, climb, theme, or groove), if I go to a random class, it’s not clear which filter category it’s a part of.  For instance, a 45 min Pop Ride with Denis Morton I took is just described as “We dare you not to dance through this pop music theme ride focusing on all the best from the pop music charts,” and listed some artists that were played. There’s nothing indicating how I should filter to find similar rides, but you’ll get a better idea through trial and error.

Looking for more details on the classes? Jump down to the Peloton Bike Classes section!

The Peloton Delivery

Scheduling Your Peloton Delivery

After you place your order, you can schedule your delivery. To my knowledge, there’s not a way to see available delivery slots before you order, though you may be able to call to see what they currently are. I hate how they do this but understand why they do this. From the customer perspective, though, you’re so excited for your bike and hoping you’ll get it soon, only to find out it will be 8 weeks later.

When I ordered mine on May 3, 2020, I was able to schedule a delivery on June 20 (7 weeks later). Over the summer, I’ve had friends who had to wait 8 weeks. A friend who purchased her bike at the end of July got a delivery 9 weeks later, while a friend who purchased a few days later got a delivery date within 4 weeks. You can call Peloton to see if there are any available delivery slots that are earlier. I don’t think they like you doing this, but they don’t automatically move your delivery earlier if a spot opens up, so it’s fair game.

My initial delivery did not happen, and I was not happy about it. On my delivery day, I checked my emails in the morning just to make sure there weren’t any changes to the delivery, and I looked to be in the clear. I waited waited waited, and then once I was nearing the end of my delivery window, checked my email again and saw that they had to cancel my delivery. The good news is that by the time I had seen their email, they had already rescheduled it to 3 days later.

In my case, they gave me a $250 credit towards my payment for the inconvenience. Getting an 11% discount for waiting 3 days helped heal it some…but not completely. It sounds completely materialistic, but having this bike coming was one thing that really kept me going during isolation. I was looking forward to it so much, and then I couldn’t even have that go right. I was devastated, and then I was devastated that something like having to wait 3 days for my luxury exercise equipment would devastate me so much.

Peloton Delivery Day

This time, I checked my emails incessantly to make sure it was on schedule. The two delivery specialists arrived, rang my doorbell, and introduced themselves. They told me they would be setting up the bike in the truck and bringing it in, but the screen would not be attached.

With COVID, Peloton is only doing threshold delivery. They brought the bike in past my front door, but they didn’t set it up in my spot like they did before COVID. The specialists were very professional and efficient. I asked them their suggestion for how to bring it upstairs, and they demonstrated how to hold it. It is heavy and needs two people to be brought upstairs, but is on wheels if you are putting it on the same level that they deliver it.

I have heard mixed things about Peloton threshold delivery for condos/apartments. One friend in a large complex had them bring the bike into their unit. For another friend in a smaller building, they only brought it to the door of the building and not even up the steps to her unit door. If you are concerned about your particular situation, I would reach out to Peloton to confirm (and get their response via email that you can refer back to during the delivery).

Once you have your bike where you want it, you’ll need to install the touchscreen and plug it in. Assembling the touchscreen has excellent documentation and is easy. What wasn’t so clear was installing the arm for the touchscreen. I would suggest asking the delivery specialists how to install it. It is pretty straightforward, but you want to make sure you get it right. I’m not sure if my delivery specialists were supposed to do that or not, but my arm was not attached.

To assemble the touchscreen arm, you’ll be inserting it into the hole and tightening it. It doesn’t click into place or anything like that, you just put it in with the arm angled up, put the bolts through, and tighten.

You’re almost ready for your first Peloton ride!

The Bike

Most spin studios I went to have a Schwinn bike, or something very similar to it.  The Schwinn bikes tend to feel more fluid overall.  It’s not that the Peloton bike isn’t smooth–it’s very smooth.  Even at zero resistance, though, the pedals don’t move as easily as Schwinn bikes or the Flywheel bikes, which makes it a different feeling when riding.  It’s a tiny bit similar to the Expresso bikes (which I hate) in this regard, but not nearly as bad.  I got used to it very quickly and now it feels like the default.

If you haven’t rode before, you can walk through the basics on setting up your bike.  I recommend this–they’re quick videos, and they give good tips. If you feel like you know the best settings based on your past experience, it’s pretty straightforward. The first time connecting my AirPods was more confusing than I expected and I had to google the steps. It took about about 5 minutes figuring it out (hint: this post explains it).

The handles only adjust up and down, not in and out. There are rumors that the new yet-to-be-released premium Peloton be able to adjust the handles. I think this

The bike feels a bit cheap in places. The water bottle holders are very flimsy, and the adjustment levers feel like they would break pretty easily. Although you are paying a lot for the bike, it’s not made with the same quality as the bikes in a spin studio, which makes sense–the spin studio bikes are meant to be durable enough to be adjusted and used every day for the entire day.

Setup for Your First Peloton Ride

You’ll want to get your shoes set up first. You’ll need shoes with Delta/SPD-SL clips. These are the clips that look like triangles instead of the SPD clips that look more like straight lines. If you haven’t already, screw in the slips to the bottom of the shoes.

Next, log in or set up your account. This will also guide you through the Peloton 101 videos. If you need to find the setup videos later, go to the … menu and click on Peloton 101.

You will need to adjust your seat height and depth as well as the handlebars. Go through the videos on this, test it out, and adjust as needed.

Now it’s time to pick your class for your first Peloton ride!

Peloton Bike Classes

Choosing Your First Peloton Class

Peloton has a wide variety of class styles and music for you to choose from. Which one you choose for your first ride is completely up to your personal preferences.

If you’re looking to start from scratch, check out the Mastering the Basics: Cycling program. This program is a series of beginner rides to help you to build your skills and get used to riding

If you’re looking to dive in with a spin class similar to SoulCycle with choreography, check out a Groove ride.

With all of the classes, you can check what other members have rated the difficulty level so you have an idea of what you’re getting into. You can also check out the class plan to see how much resistance and speed work is involved. You can also view the playlist to see if the music fits your current mood. If you want, you can also preview the class by clicking on the video instead of joining the class.

While you’re riding, you’ll be able to see others who are taking the class at the same time. Click on their image on the leader board to give them a high five!

You’ve been waiting for this bike. Do a class that makes you happy!

My Recommeded Class Types on Peloton

These might

Tabata: If you’re looking for something high energy that will push you to the limits, the tabata classes are excellent intervals. With a 2-on, 1-off pattern (ex., 30 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest), they help me feel like I’m increasing my endurance and being able to bounce back with a lot of power.
Recommended class: 30 min Tabata Ride from 6/30/2020 with Ben Alldis

Intervals: The intervals classes take different formats, so you might want to preview each class to see what the pattern is. These will push you, and give you some time for recovery between pushes.
Recommended class: 30 min Intervals Ride from 8/13/2020 with Olivia Amato (pyramid style intervals)

House and EDM Rides: The electronic rides are all about house, EDM, and other electro music and vibing with the beats. I love this to get completely consumed with the music and pedal in time.
Recommended class: 45 min EDM Ride from 8/1/2020 with Hannah Frankson

Disco Rides: Disco music you can dance and sing to on the bike. I love working out to disco, and love that there is such a big collection.
Recommended class: 30 min Disco Ride from 6/23/2020 with Leanne Hainsby

Christine’s Rides for Alternative: If I’m in the mood for some alternative music from the 80s and 90s, or Dave Matthews Band, Christine is where I go.
Recommended class: 30 min New Wave Ride .from 7/29/2020 with Christine D’Ercole

Ally Love’s Rides for Inspiration: Need a pick me up? Clip in for one of Ally Love’s classes for a feel-good experience.

Groove Rides for Choreography/SoulCycle: Incorporate push ups and tap it back in time with the music. If you like SoulCycle-esque classes, give these a try for a similar experience.

A Word About Power Zone

If you are training for performance with the aim to get stronger, focus on form, and improve your total output, I would recommend you check out Power Zone (PZ) training. Peloton offers a 4 week training program called Discover Your Power Zones aimed at helping riders of all levels increase their performance.

Regardless if you want to continue with Power Zone training, I absolutely recommend you take the Power Zone FTP test in your first week–at a minimum. I would recommend you do the first week of the Power Zone training program in your first week of getting the bike so you can learn the basics before taking your FTP test. Power Zone doesn’t have to be your first Peloton class, but again, I definitely recommend you taking the FTP test.

Why do I recommend taking the FTP test right away? Whether you do Power Zone training or not, you will improve as you get used to riding and get into your schedule. Having that baseline from when you first start helps you feel inspired and empowered as you see yourself improve over the weeks. When you take your next FTP test (not earlier than 4-6 weeks later), you’ll have improved in a tangible way.

Discover Your Power Zones Program

Peloton suggests the following rides for the Discover Your Power Zones program. I suggest at least doing days 1 and 2, but doing all days gives you an intro to the different PZ coaches and their styles so you can find who you like best.

Day 1
15 minute Low Impact Ride from 1/30/2020 with Matt Wilpers followed by 20 minute Power Zone Beginner Ride from 1/30/2020 with Matt Wilpers

Day 2
10 minute FTP Warm-Up Ride from 12/18/2019 with Denis Morton followed by 20 minute FTP Test Ride from 12/4/2019 with Denis Morton

Day 3
30 minute Power Zone Endurance Ride from 1/30/2020 with Olivia Amato

Day 4
30 minute Power Zone Endurance Ride from 1/30/2020 with Christine D’Ercole

If you end up loving Power Zone, check out the Power Zone Pack, a fan website that does regular challenges and works out together.

My First Class

I was dripping sweat at the end of the 45 min Pop Ride with Denis Morton!  Honestly I did not expect to have as good of a workout as I did, or sweat as much as I did, especially because the room didn’t get as hot and humid as a class in a studio.  My first Peloton ride was a good workout, I felt like I got a quality ride with variety and similar to what you get in a boutique spin studio.  It was challenging and engaging, the instruction was clear, and I found myself laughing with the instructor.  The class is mostly just the instructor giving direction, although some pre-COVID classes have a full studio. 

Denis would give an instruction, and then it would show up on the bottom of the screen.  He gave a target range to hit for cadence and resistance.  When I am within that range, the range lights up in yellow.  I really liked this as a guide (similar to what I love about Flywheel), and the gamification of it did push me to do more. 

However, I am not an expert at spin, and I was at the middle of the pack for this class.  Even being middle of the pack, I still found myself pushing past the suggested ranges for resistance.  This tells me that most people disregard the suggested ranges and (probably) do more resistance than suggested.

When I pushed above the suggested range, it no longer showed up in yellow–which miffed me a bit.  I was going harder than what was suggested because I felt that’s what the ride needed, and wasn’t getting my instant gratification with the yellow. I like that the yellow basically gives you a “good job!” but couldn’t get that if I pushed harder.

Another thing that rankled me was that the instructor would give the target speed (let’s say 65 RPMs) that we should be around, which aligned with the music.  The range that showed up on the screen did not have that target speed as the mid-range, and instead had it as the low-end of the range (65-75 RPMs).  I’m someone who rides to the beat, and the beat is what keeps me going; it was driving me crazy to see my fall out of the range if I was still following the beat but at 64 RPMs. How realistic the range is varies by class and instructor.

Also on the screen are total output in kilojoules (a unit of energy) and current output in watts.  For cadence and resistance, it also shows my averages during the ride and if my average is increasing or decreasing with my current settings.  I liked the averages a lot, it helped me to benchmark within the class, and also added some additional gamification of wanting to increase these numbers.

During class, I could see where I rank (based on total output) with other people taking the class.  Before riding, I wasn’t sure how this would work for classes that aren’t live, but they accomplish this pretty well.  Everyone taking the class at the same time has their scores up on the board, with an indicator for how far into the class they are.  If I and other rider have the same score but they’re almost done their ride and I’m only halfway through, I know that I’ll eventually overtake them (and vice versa or people coming up behind you).  I didn’t really find that the rankings caused me to push any harder like the leaderboard in Flywheel does for this class because everyone was at different points in the class.

Calories

One question I was curious about is, “Do you burn more calories with Peloton or Flywheel?”  According to my Fitbit, for this Peloton ride, I burned 232 calories.  For my last Flywheel class, I burned 213 calories (also according to my Fitbit).  While the Fitbit may not be accurate, I think the comparison in readings is helpful as a gauge, since it’s a consistent method of measuring calories burned.  I burned about the same amount of calories with Peloton and Flywheel.  I will note that the 232 calories my Fitbit said I burned was significantly less than the 427 calories Peloton said I burned.  Flywheel’s estimates were much closer, saying I burned about 281 calories versus the 213 my Fitbit showed.

Ride Statistics

As someone who loves data and measuring my progress, I really liked the visualization of the ride after it was finished.  As a comparison, I definitely found it superior to the Flywheel metrics interface (bring back the 2015-2018 interface).  The workout dashboard includes my overall stats, and then breaks down the different metrics (output, cadence, resistance, and speed) over the ride.  What’s also really helpful is that across the top, I have the different portions of the ride so I can see what was going on.  In the below, the stages were warmup, ride, weights, ride, and cool down.  My output dropped with the weights part, and I love that I can see that.

I also like that you can see your friends’ statistics too. I like spying on my super powerful friends and seeing what resistances they’re using.

Keep Going!

There’s a ton to explore in the Peloton library, with more content being added every single day. Whether you’re looking for your first Peloton ride or your 1,000th, you can find something that suits you.

Don’t forget to check out everything else the app has to offer. Take the time to explore stretches post-ride, center yourself with some mediation, and try the strength programs.

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