The Peloton app review – is it worth it? 

Peloton is best known for its exercise bike, but the app offers an awful lot more.

Peloton is one of the big names in the world of at-home workouts. And while probably best known for its exercise bike, the company offers a lot more than just spin classes. The Peloton app is one example of the brand trying to branch out to be a complete home fitness offering.

I’ve spent the last few months trying a variety of workouts on the Peloton app, to see how good it is. The home workout space is incredibly competitive, with offerings from the like of Apple Fitness+, Les Mills and myriad others. Does Peloton do enough to compete with its rivals? 

After several months, here’s whether I think the Peloton app is worth it.  

An over the shoulder image of a Peloton customer, following a bike workout, with the Peloton instructor on the bike screen.Credit: Peloton

The Peloton app explained

What is the Peloton app?

The Peloton app is the company’s effort to offer users a gym-class experience from the comfort of home. Much like Apple Fitness+, the app offers thousands of different workouts, including yoga, strength training, cardio, running and cycling, among others. 

I signed up for a three-month free trial. But roughly halfway through my trial period, the Peloton app was revamped, creating a new series of membership tiers, including one tier that is free to use. While this limits the content you can try, it’s a great option for people who want to test the waters before making a financial commitment. 

Beyond this, membership tiers cost from £12.99 a month (or £129 for a year when paid upfront) for Peloton App One membership, up to £39 a month for the all-access membership, which provides content exclusively for Peloton equipment. It means that depending on what sort of workouts you’re interested in, you might be able to pay a bit less. 

At £12.99, the cheapest paid-for membership is considerably more expensive than the £7.99 Apple Fitness+ charges. But, on the other hand, there’s no free membership tier on Apple’s service.  

Picture of three different screens on the revamped Peloton appCredit: Peloton

Setting up the Peloton app

It’s easy to set up the Peloton app, and it’s compatible with a wide range of devices, including both Apple and Android phones and tablets, plus a range of smart TVs. I used an iPad and had no difficulty downloading the app (iOS|Android), creating an account, and getting everything ready to work. 

When it comes to home workouts, the big appeal of them is that you can exercise at a time that’s convenient to you. You aren’t reliant on someone else’s timetable, and there’s no travel time to factor in. Peloton has clearly worked hard to make it accessible to first-time users as well.  

During the setting-up process, I was asked to choose the type of workouts I enjoy, the intensity I like to workout at and how long I tend to exercise for, so that the app could then make suitable recommendations. The app offers a lot, and it’s easy to get lost in the sheer variety of classes on offer. Answering a few questions to potentially make it easier to navigate and find suitable classes, made a lot of sense. 

Top tips to get the most out of the Peloton app

This provides a comprehensive overview of what the workout involves, including any equipment you’ll need, the music you’ll be hearing, the specific exercises you’ll be doing, and what muscles you’ll be working. This helps you to choose workouts that meet your needs.  

The new pricing structure of the Peloton app means that there is something for everyone. But there’s no point in paying for the more expensive memberships if you aren’t going to get the benefits. You may not have the right equipment to justify the all-access membership, or maybe you have no interest in using an exercise bike, for example

The Peloton app offers a wide variety of workouts. While you may be drawn to some more than others, it’s well worth exploring options you may typically ignore. You might surprise yourself by developing an unexpected appreciation for boxing, for example.

Shorter workouts aren’t necessarily easier. The class filter lets you search based on things such as length of workout, the instructor, the body parts you’ll focus on, music style and even the difficulty. If you’re a beginner, this can be invaluable in making sure you choose workouts that are suitable for you.

The Peloton app home page on an iPad Pro, lying on a blue backgroundCredit: Saga Exceptional

What I liked about the Peloton app

Peloton positives

Peloton has worked hard to offer a comprehensive fitness platform, and there’s plenty that it does well. There are thousands of workouts, so you can (in theory) never repeat a workout.

Even in the free membership tier, classes are regularly changed, so you won’t be stuck doing the same few classes repeatedly. Some are as short as five minutes, while others can be as long as 90. This means there’s something for everyone, regardless of how pressed for time you might be. 

The coaches are clearly well-trained, and I appreciated how often they reminded me to focus on my form, to ensure that I was performing exercises correctly. Good form is essential to avoid injury, and it’s crucial that the coaches explain what good form should look like. This is even more important in an at-home workout because the trainer isn’t there to correct you if you are doing it wrong. 

Workout previews are detailed

I also liked the level of detail that is available when it comes to previewing a workout. Having foresight of the equipment you’ll be using, the type of moves you’ll perform and the muscle groups you’ll be using can ensure you are choosing suitable workouts.

For example, if you need to avoid working a certain muscle group due to injury or because you’ve already worked it that week, the preview can help you find something suitable. 

Finally, the fact live workouts are available is a nice touch, although these are only available if you pay for a membership. But if you’re someone who enjoys the live element, which does bring with it a bit more interaction compared with a recording, you’ll potentially get a lot from this. 

Having tried a wide range of workouts, I found there is plenty of challenge, and whether you’re a beginner or already work out regularly, you’ll almost certainly find something suitable. I liked how clearly the moves were explained and demonstrated, and modifications were often available if a particular move was potentially too difficult.  

There’s lots that the Peloton app does well, then. But it isn’t perfect. 

What I didn’t like about the Peloton app

The Peloton app does have a few drawbacks

When I tested Apple Fitness+, my single biggest problem was the lack of structure, and the Peloton app has a similar issue. I’m a great advocate of at-home workouts. I like how easy it is to get started. It’s relatively affordable compared to a gym membership and there’s often far more variety on offer. However, in my view, at-home workouts are at their best when they provide a clear workout plan for an extended period. 

The at-home workouts I’ve got the most out of are those that create a plan over a period of weeks or months, telling you what workout to do and when. These often supply a well-balanced schedule, incorporating a mixture of cardio, strength training, and recovery days, which might include stretching, for example some beginner yoga postures.

By doing this, they make sure you get a full body workout while reducing the risk of overtraining, or focusing on one area too much. And it also means you don’t need to spend time trying to work out what workout to do, making everything as easy as possible. Unfortunately, this isn’t something Peloton really offers.

A glaring omission?

There are a few programmes (unavailable on the free membership tier) that are relatively short and tend to focus on one thing or another – strength training, for instance. But none of them are a complete workout plan.

And it means you have to spend time going through the workouts to find something that you think is suitable. This is fine if you’re experienced and know what your body needs, but for a beginner, I think this is problematic, as it runs the risk of you struggling to create a balanced workout plan.

To compound this, the number of classes available can be almost overwhelming. There is the filter I mentioned before to help narrow things down, but again, if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, it is still tricky to ensure you are finding the most suitable workouts for your needs. 

A Peloton coach demonstrating a move by holding a dumbbell next to his headCredit: Saga Exceptional

Peloton app coaching

A quick word on the coaches

The coaches are clearly well-trained and knowledgeable, and work hard to emphasise good form, not overdoing things and generally looking after you as well as they can in an at-home workout. There’s also a wide variety of coaching styles, depending on your preferred approach. 

Some are more, um, enthusiastic, than others, and it will be a matter of personal preferences whether you find them motivating or a little over the top.

There will almost certainly be coaches to suit your preferred style, it’s just a question of finding them. And while you can filter by coaches, this is only helpful once you’ve found someone you like. A filter for ‘coaching style’ could be a useful addition. 

What could they do better on the Peloton app?

Curation would be a great start

For me, the most obvious change would be to add more comprehensive workout plans. These could be based on a variety of goals to suit different needs and ability levels.

There’s already enough variety on the Peloton app. It feels like it would be fairly simple for someone to curate some of those workouts into meaningful schedules. Whether that’s 30, 60 or 90-day plans, it feels like an obvious step to support its users. 

Peloton app results

Will the Peloton app get you fitter?

There’s plenty of variety, and most people are likely to find something that suits them. So there’s certainly the potential to become fitter by using the Peloton app. 

The big concern, though, is that by trying to replicate the gym-class experience, it’s not supportive enough to keep encouraging people back to use it. And if you find that the app is frustrating to use, or it’s more difficult than it needs to be to find a class you want to take? It’s all too easy to stop using it. 

That said, the fact that the Peloton app offers a free membership tier now is a massive plus. It allows you to try a variety of workouts and get into a rhythm. And the best part is there’s no financial cost if you feel it isn’t for you. For many that could be just the encouragement they need to get started on a new health and fitness journey.  

Verdict

So, is the Peloton app worth it?

the Peloton app on an iPad Pro, next to a pair of green trainers and a black and red medicine ballCredit: Saga Exceptional

There’s plenty to like about the Peloton app. There are a lot of workouts to try and a wide variety of exercise types. The ability to filter your workouts means you can find something that really suits you. Peloton has tried hard to create an app that will have something for pretty much anyone. This is regardless of how fit you are, or how long it’s been since you last exercised.  

The app isn’t quite as polished as the likes of Apple Fitness+, but it’s still user-friendly, and there are plenty of tools to help you find what you’re looking for. 

I still have the same issue with the Peloton app as I did with Apple Fitness+. There just isn’t enough guidance in terms of knowing what workouts to choose. It’s easy to overtrain, or do workouts that work the same muscles over and over.

There are a few short programs to follow, but what I’d really like to see is curated, longer-term programmes that tell people what workouts to do on what day. This would provide a clear structure, allowing people to get a well-balanced workout that helps with strength training, cardio fitness, and rest and recovery.  

It’s fair enough that Peloton wants to recreate the feeling of being in a live class. After all, that’s what their entire company was based on. But at an actual gym, you’d often have access to personal trainers who can recommend what classes to take or help build a schedule for you to follow. Here, you’re left to your own devices. 

A free membership is to applauded

Finally, the changes that were made in terms of the different membership tiers are – broadly – welcome. The fact there is a membership tier that is completely free sets this apart from other workout apps.

Admittedly, it tightly controls what you have access to. But we applaud a company that’s willing to support people with their fitness goals, without charging for it.  

Of course, Peloton hopes you’ll eventually upgrade to a more expensive membership, but you aren’t forced to. You will, however, almost certainly get more out of it by paying for a more comprehensive membership and having plenty of equipment. At the very least, a free membership means you have nothing to lose by trying it. 

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Steven Shaw

Written by Steven Shaw he/him

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Steven Shaw has been a freelance writer for a variety of outlets, most notably TechRadar. His degree in Medieval History prepared him less adequately for his career than you might expect, but the years spent working in technology focused retail were much more helpful.

Outside of work, Steven is passionate about health and fitness, and particularly enjoys high-intensity interval training, weight training, and increasingly, spending time recovering. Steven loves reading, films and a wide variety of sports. A particular highlight was watching Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar batting together in an exhibition match.

He wishes he could travel more. He can also tell you a lot about the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Carolingians. Most of his non-work time is spent with his young children, who are the living embodiment of high-intensity training.