I haven’t been a believer in Peloton. Though I took a few rides on the communal Peloton Bike in my apartment building’s gym, and even reviewed the standalone Peloton App thanks to the famous 3-months-free promotion, I never quite understood the hype.
But it turns out Peloton might not be the culty workout fad I thought it to be. Ahead of the new Peloton Studios opening in New York City, I took an in-person class in a space that will soon be available to and abuzz with Peloton members. While Peloton’s live class schedule and extensive class backlog will remain available to members at home, Peloton Studios revives the option to ride, run and more in a group class format.
Upon arriving at the studio, I found a locker to stow my gym bag and set out to explore the new space. The best way I can describe the Hudson Yards building is if an Apple Store turned into a spa, complete with high ceilings, lots of light and modern fixtures. The more I explored, the more luxurious the studios felt, right down to the Dyson hair dryers in the locker rooms.
Peloton Studios created a space to just not workout, but to prep, recover, clean-up, shop and connect. It’s these pre- and post-workout nuances that make me love belonging to a gym or signing up for studio classes. I miss these small moments when working out with the best home gym equipment in my living room. But perhaps I didn’t know just how much they elevate exercising until I was there, strapping on cycling cleats, filling up water bottles and making introductions with fellow class-goers.
The Peloton Studios preview schedule included several times and workout styles to choose from, but when I saw a live ride with Cody Rigsby among them, my decision was made. I might not be an active Peloton member but even I know about Rigsby’s spunky dance moves and comedic mid-ride quips. Peloton’s cycling director happens to be a bit of a celebrity on TikTok.
With the countdown to Cody Rigsby’s 30-minute Live DJ Pride Ride on, I was ushered into the cycling studio (which is one of four total studios in the space) and assisted in setting up a bike for class. I usually have a sense for my ideal seat and handlebar height, but it was nice to have someone else to check and be available if needed.
Unlike the Peloton Bike or many of the best exercise bikes these days, the studio bike didn’t have a large screen. Instead a small monitor for cadence and resistance could be used for class cues. It also doesn’t pair to my Apple Watch like the at-home bike, so I had to start the indoor cycling workout manually on my wrist. This wasn’t really a complaint, more of a further observation that taking an in-person Peloton class isn’t like taking one at home.
In fact, I got to see a bit of behind-the-scenes of how the classes are produced for those at home. Cody Rigsby took starting cues from a producer, while an array of spotlights turned on and off around the studio. As a bonus this Pride Month-themed class had a live DJ, DJ John Michael, which cultivated a energic, party-like atmosphere.
Despite burning quads and sweat dripping from what felt like every pore of my body, this was one of the most enjoyable cycling classes I’ve ever experienced. Observing and engaging with a Peloton class in-person showed me the company is ready to cater to members craving social connections. While Peloton Guide is the company’s latest piece of equipment encouraging virtual training, Peloton Studios is prepared to serve those sick of working out solo.
Of course, Peloton Studios has its caveats. For one, it’s in New York City, and I can’t imagine people will travel far with any sort of regularity to take in-person classes. But as a city dweller, I could imagine bringing a friend from out of town there as an activity.
Also, in-person classes come at an expense, though it’s not yet known what the fee will look like now compared to the Peloton All-Access Membership, which costs $39/month. As a reminder, Peloton did have in-person classes back before the pandemic. At the time, the first class cost $20 and single classes cost $32. Class packs brought the price per session down slightly, while an unlimited membership cost $400 per month. As I learned, you do not need an active Peloton membership to take classes, just an account to sign into the equipment.
And that’s why I might be a believer in Peloton after all. Though the company has faced very public ups and downs, it did give swaths of people a way to stay in shape while stuck at home. It didn’t click for me in this format, but the in-person class provided a different way to bond with the brand that better suited my exercise preferences. I’m not sure how many other home gym equipment companies have comparable solutions (or the resources) for people who are ready to return to communal work outs.