Last year when gyms were still closed, my family watched with intrigue from our windows as Peloton bike delivery trucks stopped by different houses on our block. Of all of the workout options that people had, why invest in an expensive bike, plus a subscription to access its content? What was all the hype about? We figured that with nothing else to do, we had to buy one and find out.
The bike arrived like all the others on our block: in a big truck and lugged out by two masked delivery people. My father and brothers carried it upstairs and as soon as it was set up, I was off on my first ride. I had never taken a spin class before, so I had rather low expectations on the workout ahead. To my surprise, I finished the first class feeling like I had entered into a new world. Not only was the beginner ride difficult but it was transformative. I’ll never forget my first virtual instructor Ben Alldis, who made me sweat while also making me reimagine what it means to be present. He constantly reminded riders to be in the here and now, follow the rhythm of the music and make adjustments to our cadence and resistance. He went into his own story about how he first got into fitness, making me excited about my own spin journey ahead.
After only one ride was when I understood the hype. I understood why spin programs like Peloton and Soul Cycle have a cult following. I understood that beyond exercise, spin gives riders a new state of mind to better themselves mentally beyond physically on and off the bike. What Peloton and its competitors offer may explain why it is so expensive. Bikes cost a few thousand dollars in addition to monthly or annual memberships for their corresponding virtual programs. And even if you do not end up buying a bike and opt for going to an in-person class, that can be over 30 dollars for just one class. You may be asking yourself if that is worth it so it may be helpful to point out some benefits to this kind of exercise.
First and foremost is what I have discussed above: the instructor. Many instructors are performers more than they are fitness experts. We already know all the physical benefits to exercise, but these spin programs come packaged with motivation and energy too. Also somewhat unique to spin classes is the sense of community that riders feel. In fact, research has shown that group exercise can improve emotional well-being, reduce stress levels and build social connection. For in-person classes, you are surrounded by riders who are giving their all and motivating you to do the same. And even in virtual classes, Peloton has a leaderboard of riders who are riding at the same time as you and have a feature where you can send them virtual high-fives.
The New York Times said it best: “Though we are isolated in our homes, we are bound together through a shared tactile experience with the product: thousands of legs twirling at the same pace, thousands of fingers twirling the knob just so.” It is evident here that spin classes are so much more than just spin classes, but it is up to you to decide whether it is a good investment for you.