The success of the Peloton bike isn’t just down to its pedal power. With the New York-based cycling club having recently launched in London, Suzanne Baum goes for a spin with its two new UK trainers
Although this is the first time we have met, I feel like I know cycling instructors Leanne Hainsby and Ben Alldis from head to toe – literally. It’s not only their voices I recognise but their huge smiles and chiselled features are so familiar I feel like we hung out yesterday.
In fact, we did, or should I say I have (virtually) been seeing them every other day for the last month and as a result, I am almost six pounds and a dress size down.
I’m almost six pounds and a dress size down in just a month
They, however, have never seen me which is rather lucky as I don’t look particularly attractive in my lycra spinning shorts and sports bra.
This is just one of the many reasons I have become addicted to my new Peloton bike.
How does a Peloton bike work?
I can exercise in the comfort of my home without having to worry about anyone else catching a glimpse of my flabby tummy and thighs – which miraculously are starting to shrink, thanks to my new love affair with spinning.
Since the Peloton bike became available in the UK last year, there is no doubt that it’s on its way to replicating the cult-following it has amassed in America. Particularly when the Covent Garden studio opens its doors next year.
As well as being able to wear what you like, there is so much more to Peloton. The convenience of being able to take a studio cycling class at home any time you want, combined with motivational instructors and a supportive community of users has created a devoted following of fans.
As well as being a smoother and quieter ride than other bikes I’ve tried, Peloton is a data lover’s dream. It displays all sorts of body stats during your class enabling you to see calories, speed and distance you have covered. In fact, unlike other spinning classes Peloton has a digital resistance control on its bike, so there’s no more cheating by not turning it up when you’re told.
There’s also a leaderboard that shares with you other cyclists in the same class if you fancy a bit of competition.
Getting to know the Peloton instructors
Running (or spinning) the show are Peloton’s instructors, recruited from top fitness studios around the world. In New York, Peloton’s instructors are megastars with their own vast media followings.
I have no doubt Leanne and Ben will soon follow suit.
For 31 year old Leanne, the first female in the UK to be recruited by the brand, the ability to inspire people to exercise is what she loves most about her new job. Toned, enthusiastic and extremely beautiful, the former dancer is so passionate about her job – which she was headhunted for last year – that her eyes shine when she talks about it.
‘It’s the best job as you are motivating all sorts of people to exercise, from beginners on the bike to athletes,’ she tells me. ‘I get my energy from knowing that I’m helping people get the best out of their fitness.’
With a strong background in dance and teaching back-to-back classes in boutique fitness gyms, Leanne is used to working under pressure. Being filmed in a live studio does not faze her, despite the fact it can often involve a production team of 20 people.
The studio, with cameras and lights placed amid the stationary bikes, creates the sleek videos that can be seen via live stream or downloaded on-demand by Peloton bike-owners.
It’s here where the instructors are encouraged to break the fourth wall by looking directly into the camera and talking to the at-home riders.
This is something both Leanne and Ben are brilliant at, with words of wisdom and encouragement shouted out at regular intervals.
‘The stories we here from our members are so humbling, from losing weight to riders getting back into exercise after an injury, it’s incredible,’ says Leanne.
‘At the end of the day whether fame comes with the job or not we will remain grounded as we are professional fitness instructors and just doing the job we love helping people to feel good about themselves.’
In fact, during our interview in the Peloton Kings Road showroom, one visitor looks ecstatic as she spots Leanne and enthusiastically thanks her for helping her get her body in shape post-birth.
‘Its stories like that that I love,’ enthuses Leanne, who first met Ben last summer when they arrived in New York for a two month training course with Peloton. ‘We just clicked straight away.’
Although Ben also comes from a strong fitness background, he needed slightly more encouragement to join Peloton – aware that it was a huge leap from his full-time job working in finance.
‘I was told joining Peloton would change my life,’ he recalled after one of the New York instructors attended a fitness class he was taking. ‘At first I was like I don’t want my life changed but it has worked out for the best. It’s a total lifestyle change that has been amazing.
‘When I’m about to take a Peloton class I get a buzz – a bit like the pre-match nerves I’d get before playing football and rugby. It is such a privilege to have the responsibility to influence so many people. Sometimes up to 10,000 people have virtually been in one of my classes and that is immense.’
Advice from Peloton
As well as keeping up their fitness, filming their classes and planning new rides, the instructors spend a lot of time curating a playlist that is motivating for people.
‘As an instructor, you will have all kinds of people with all different stories who are there for many different reasons and music helps you connect.’
For me, lack of motivation has often held me back from exercising. What keeps me engaged over a 30-minute ride-throughout the class is that each instructor has their own words of encouragement for you.
When Ben, says ‘I just need you to be you’ during a particularly tough climb, I believe him. And yes, these words of encouragement are transmitted through a 22-inch screen, but I swear, it’s as if he’s talking directly to me. Suddenly, one more hill, (he does a great 20-minute hill ride) feels like it’s doable.
When it comes to her class, Leanne says creating connections through music is key. ‘I love mixing in sounds from all different genres – 80’s pop, club tracks and even garage music are some of the sounds that you’ll hear on the bike.’
Unsurprisingly, as a former dancer with S Club 7, I find myself singing along to one of the bands songs during her class, but I know I’m not alone. To the right of the screen, there’s a leader board that displays the names of all the other Peloton riders who are doing the class with me, connected from all corners of the globe via the internet.
There’s a couple of hundred of us on this spin class in the sky, and we’re all pedalling away like mad. Unlike with other exercise classes, I finish in a slightly semi-euphoric mood.
In fact, after my almost six-pound weight loss, I want to hug Ben and Leanne but instead decide to wait until I get home to give them a high-five. Yes – Peloton even allows you to do that virtually in a class – the equivalent to a Facebook poke, I suppose.