My athletic jam is wilderness backpacking in the mountains. I started taking spin classes as a way to increase cardio and leg strength for my backcountry trips. I’m now hooked on spin cycling. I think cycling, combined with nose breathing, is an incredible way for a flat lander to train for hiking at altitude. I started at my local gym last year, but in December they discontinued the classes at that location. I decided to cancel the gym membership and buy a spin bike. I really liked the idea of getting a Peloton bike, but just couldn’t do $2,200+ for the bike and $39/month for the online classes membership.
The features I liked the most about the Peloton bike is the numerical representation of cadence (how fast the pedals are going), percent of resistance (how hard it is to pedal), power measurement (combination of cadence and resistance), and on screen integration of a heart rate monitor. I’m very analytical so I love being able to measure my exercise and set goals to improve.
I’m also very motivated in a group/class setting and I love listening to music. Their classes were appealing to me. However, I just couldn’t justify spending that kind of money.
So, I did some research and found an awesome setup that gives me almost the same experience as a Peloton bike/membership for only $640 plus $15.50/month in subscriptions. My setup also includes an iPad, iPhone, and an Apple Watch which I already had so they aren’t included in the cost above. Here is my setup.
I bought a Sunny Health & Fitness (SF-B1805) for $600 on Amazon. It has a 44lb. flywheel, magnetic resistance, quiet belt drive, pedal straps, good seat, tablet holder, and it is rock solid/stable.
I started with a 30 day trial of the Peloton Digital App. After the free trial the subscription is $12.99/month.
The app has all of the same classes, even live classes, as the Peloton bike subscription plan. The only thing you don’t really get with the non-bike subscription are “shout outs” from the instructor during class. I’m ok with that. I don’t take the classes live anyway. I prefer the previously recorded on-demand classes so I don’t have to hit a specific time to take the class.
I bought a Wahoo RPM cycling cadence sensor for $40 on Amazon. This device attaches to the shaft of the pedal arm and measures how fast I’m pedaling. The nice feature is that the Peloton app picks up the WaHoo cadence via Bluetooth and displays it on screen.
I also started with a free trial of the FITIV Pulse app. After the free trial an annual subscription of $29.99 averages out to $2.50/month. This app installs on my iPhone and Apple Watch to track my heart rate. The Apple Watch streams my current heart rate to the iPhone so I can monitor it in real-time without constantly looking at my wrist. Additionally, FITIV Pulse includes heart rate zones. This way I can track my effort and keep it in a specific heart rate zone to match my goals.
The Peloton app will also pick up and display heart rate via Bluetooth, but my Apple Watch is too old. There aren’t any Bluetooth enabled heart rate monitoring apps that work on my watch and the Peloton app. As it turns out, I prefer my current setup because I can see a nice chart of my heart rate zones.
I just stack the iPad above my iPhone on the bike’s tablet holder. It all fits very nicely and is very stable. The bike doesn’t move or vibrate even while I’m pedaling at high RPMs or standing to climb that hill.
I’m very happy with this setup and feel like I would have had some buyer’s remorse had I spent $2,200+ on a Peloton bike.