Smart bikes ride into homes

Virtual cycling classes become popular within the community


Caroline Runnebooma | WITH PERMISSION

Sophomore Ella Runneboom rides her Peloton in the guest room in her home. She participated in a 20 minute workout led by instructor Ally Love, the ride featured 90’s music.

Kassie DeJean and Ella Noblin

With reduced access to gyms and fitness centers due to COVID-19 shelter in place,  a new generation of smart bikes are popping up in bedrooms, garages and basements, transforming the way many people are accessing and engaging with fitness. 

While there are many different brands of smart bikes on the market with a wide range of price options and features, the Peloton bike has become popular for its signature live and on-demand exercise classes led by fitness professionals. The wide range of classes include cycling, core and arm workouts, strength training and yoga classes, allowing many people to find a class that fits their exercising needs.

“I have tried many different kinds of rides since joining Peloton,” sophomore Ella Runneboom said. “My favorite types of rides are either artist-focused rides, pop music themed rides, Tabata which is a type of high intensity interval training ride, or arms and intervals rides,”

The Peloton bike starts at $1,895, or $49 per month, and the all-access content membership runs at $39 per month. Cyclists can choose classes based on their duration, instructor, format, content or music genre.

“I find that music motivates me the most when I am doing a bike ride, so I normally choose rides based on the kind of music that will be playing,” freshman Zara Kirk said. “I mostly choose pop music or upbeat music because it energizes me.” 

In addition to cycling classes, most smart bikes offer other forms of workouts such as core, upper body, lower body, barre and yoga. These classes allow for a wider range and more balanced set of exercises for the body as well as more options for users.

“I do not do the off-bike workouts such as boot camp or core because I don’t have enough space around where my bike is located, but I do participate in lightweight classes along with some post-ride stretching,” Runneboom said. “I find these two types of classes to be really beneficial as an add on to my workout and they are often in short amounts of time, so I can finish them quickly and move onto other parts of my day.”

Convenience is important when it comes to working out, and cycling allows those with busy schedules to get a workout done at any time of the day without having to leave the house, according to senior Lisel Anderson.

“My favorite part about the bike is that I am able to do a workout right from my house,” Anderson said. “It makes me want to work out more given it requires minimal effort, whereas going to a class would require me driving over.” 

Stationary bikes are a great warmup activity and are a safe way to exercise, according to athletic trainer Justine Li. Indoor cycling provides flexibility, no matter what the weather or air quality is outside. 

“In general, it’s not a compressive type of exercise like running that oftentimes hurts,” Li said. “If you have an overuse injury, it’s a really great non-body weight workout that you can use as cardio and as a really good warm-up.” 

The experience of an in-person class versus a virtual class can feel a lot different for many users, who in a live studio class would most likely be accompanied by an instructor, surround-sound music and energized participants.

Despite not being in-person, users find that they are still able to stay motivated and inspired by the instructors on the screen in a virtual setting, according to Runneboom. The instructors speak directly to the cyclists in an online class, and the concept of the leaderboard is appealing to her. 

“My absolute favorite part about the bike is the live classes and the instructors on them,” Runneboom said. “I find live classes to be so fun because you can actively participate in a leaderboard and really see yourself climb that leaderboard throughout your ride. The instructors are super motivating and curate the most exciting playlists that are so fun to listen to while riding.”