Triple Threat Test: A Review of the New Peloton Gym App Feature in Three Different Fitness Environments

Hi!  I’m Nikki–a Peloton enthusiast since 2016, a NASM certified personal trainer, and a writer here at The Clip Out.  I’m also just wrapping up a multi-state move, which created chaos in my life, and especially in my preferred (at home) Peloton workout routine.   Lucky for me, Peloton introduced the Gym feature on the new and improved App to coincide with my move.  I’m not saying that they did this specifically for me, but I’m not not saying that either.  The timing was awfully convenient.  Just kidding, they obviously did this for everyone, but it certainly felt like a personal favor at the time.  

Not willing to give up on fitness entirely while this move upended my life, I decided to use this as an opportunity to put the Peloton Gym app feature to the test in three distinct fitness environments: my at-home fitness room (equipped with a Bike+, a Row, and various dumbbells up to 55lbs), a surprisingly well-appointed hotel fitness center (equipped with various cardio equipment as well as a full set of dumbbells up to 70lbs), and a very well-appointed gym on a Navy base (equipped with everything you could possibly need). Join me as I dive into the ins and outs of this new addition to the Peloton App, exploring its effectiveness and versatility across a variety of workout scenarios.

Members will find that additional equipment beyond dumbbells will be required for several Peloton Gym classes

First things first

I hate gyms. They’re very….people-y and, I don’t enjoy people-y gyms.  Between crowded weight rooms, waiting for dumbbells to free up, limited floor space, germs, and Gym-Bros who can never seem to stop themselves from “helpfully” gym-splaining to me, I really just prefer the privacy of my own home.  Additionally, I love to crank up my music and sing when I’m working out and, well, that gets weird at the gym.  

So, at first blush, I was skeptical about whether Peloton Gym would be a good fit for me, especially since I don’t, you know, go to the gym. However, our very drawn-out military relocation had the real potential to take a toll on my workout routines, so I was eager to have something (anything!) that felt close to normal.  And, as someone who thrives on routine and enjoys learning from others’ fitness approaches, I appreciated Peloton Gym’s ability to provide guided workouts amidst the chaos, so I was actually really excited to explore this new feature.  Was the Peloton Gym going to be enough for me to loosely maintain my schedule, when I otherwise might put fitness on hold all together? I was certainly hopeful and eager to find out.  

Getting acquainted

With that in mind, it was time to get familiar with this innovative new feature! Right away, I found it easy to scroll through the selection of classes to pick what I needed to meet my goals for the day. At the top of the screen, workouts are broken down into categories–Upper Body, Lower Body, Full Body and Core–and, while there currently isn’t an option to filter for time or instructor, there are only a handful of plans within each subheading so finding your preferred class isn’t time consuming at all.  Each class provides detailed breakdowns of both the exercises and the blocks of work, so you can decide which class fits your needs best before hitting Start.

Important Note:  These Instructor-created workouts are meant to take you beyond what you would typically do in an Instructor-led Peloton class, and, as such, you may find that you need equipment beyond a basic set of dumbbells.  For instance, a bench, or chair, wil be necessary for Lateral Step Ups in Callie’s 30 minute Glutes and Legs class, and a pull-up bar is required for Pull Up Holds in Tunde’s 20 minute Arms & Shoulders class.  The need for extra equipment may make it difficult for people to fully use the Gym feature in some workout environments, specifically in-home or on the road in hotel fitness centers.

Up first, my home gym

Ahhh…my happy place.  This is the place where I’m the most comfortable working out, so I knew that if Peloton Gym was going to feel like a success, it would be here.  I’m familiar with my equipment, I’m by myself, I have the freedom to just be myself without worrying about anyone else in my space.  I love it here.  My gym is a typical home-fitness space; outside of my Peloton equipment, I also have a wide selection of dumbbells, resistance bands, and booty-bands, as well as a workout bench, and various other fitness accessories.  So, I felt reasonably prepared for whatever the Instructors would throw at me.

This was the week that my house was being packed up, and, while I had to choose shorter-than-usual workouts in order to fit them in, I was able to keep my routine as close to normal as possible (until the movers took my things away, anyway!).  Despite the looming moving mayhem, I was able to get four full workouts in (plus, Anna Greenberg’s A Self-Care Retreat, too.  Read my full review here.):  Callie’s 30 minute Glutes and Legs, Jermaine’s 20 minute Upper Body, Tunde’s 20 minute Glutes & Legs, and Logan’s 20 minute Full Body.  

My reasonably well-equipped home gym….that the movers took away from me

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed all of these workouts.  They were solidly programmed and allowed me to lift as heavy as I wanted to, and at my own pace. I also really liked that, as there is no audio at all included in these sessions, I was able to select my own playlists.  This gave me a lot of freedom to explore a lot of various playlist options, ranging from 90s Hip Hop, Green Day and Stadium Rock, to Logan’s personally curated playlist on Spotify.  I love good music during a workout, and the ability to crank the tunes and jam out really elevated these workouts for me. 

As I mentioned above, equipment beyond just dumbbells is necessary for some of these classes.  In Callie’s class, I used my bench for Lateral Step Ups and her hip bridges called for a barbell.  A barbell is one thing I don’t have in my gym and, while I could’ve subbed in a dumbbell, I opted to use a booty-band instead to ramp up the burn.  I did find that, while these workouts have an estimated time that it will take to complete them, rest between sets and circuits is neither built in nor specified.  It’s up to you to decide how much rest you’ll need, and that will affect how long it takes you to complete the workout.  For example, with Callie’s 30 minute class, I opted for 30 seconds of rest between sets, and 45 seconds between circuits, and my overall workout ended at just over 30 minutes at 31:28.  Which leads me to my next point.  I don’t love having to rely on my phone for workouts, mostly because I lack self-control.  So, some of that “rest” was me being distracted by my phone.  That might just be a me-problem, however I have a feeling I’m not the only person who can’t quite resist the temptation to scroll during rest between sets. So, just be aware that you’ll need to build in your own rest periods, and you’ll need to practice some will-power so your 30 seconds doesn’t turn into 2 minutes and 30 seconds of watching Reels on Instagram.

How do you feel about EMOMs and AMRAPs?  

Because these workouts (most of them) have at least one of those, if not both and that brings me to my biggest gripe about Peloton Gym.  As I mentioned above, there is no sound with these classes, which means that there are no, and I mean zero, audio cues for anything.  For the majority of the workout, that’s fine, but when it comes to timed exercises, like EMOMs and AMRAPSs, it can be tricky to continuously check your phone to make sure you’re accomplishing things in the allotted time.  Nevermind the fact that there are some instances, like the Tricep EMOM and Tabata section in Jermaine’s Upper Body class, where you’re on your back and you can’t even see your phone, which makes tracking the time in those sections particularly challenging.  Is this a reason to avoid these workouts?  No, definitely not.  Is this an area that can, and hopefully will, be improved upon?  Absolutely. 

All in all, the four workouts I chose for my home-gym worked, and worked well, for me and for my schedule.  And, while not every class requires additional equipment, someone with a basic setup of just dumbbells will find that they need to be creative subbing things in, ie. a chair instead of a bench, in order to reap the full benefits of some of these classes.  

Up Next:  Full Body in a Hotel Gym

Between packing boxes, loading our moving truck, and driving to our new state with kids and pets in tow, I only had one day to workout this week.  So, I opted for efficiency and chose a Full Body class.  Even though my whole week has felt like a full-body marathon of activity, I was grateful to feel like my routine still existed a little bit (even if I had to be patient to find the time for it). 

Armed with a towel from my room for a barrier between myself and the floor, I decided to go with Jess Sims’ 20 minute Full Body class for two reasons:  it fit into my schedule and it had the least amount of time spent on the floor (because no one wants to be on the floor of a hotel, ever). And, as I’d already explored pairing playlists with the workouts last week, I used this as an opportunity to catch up on the latest episode of The Clip Out podcast (which pairs nicely with these workouts, if you were wondering).  

With access to two rooms of equipment, the hotel fitness center was a welcome revelation!

The Peloton Bike at this particular Hilton family hotel was not affected by the seat post recall

The hotel fitness center (Homewood Suites by Hilton) was a revelation.  Based on my previous hotel fitness-center experiences, I expected a modestly-appointed facility and what I walked into was a really well-appointed gym.  It had loads of cardio equipment, including a Peloton Bike that was not affected by the seat post recall, and a full complement of dumbbells up to 70 lbs–Andy Speer would probably be psyched to make the acquaintance of so many new friends.  It even offered several yoga mats to provide an extra barrier between me and the floor.  Aside from a low ceiling height in the weightroom, there weren’t too many cons that caught my eye.  Additionally, this fitness center was quiet.  With the exception of a hotel employee diligently cleaning equipment, I was the only one using the space and had free-range of all of the equipment, which meant I wouldn’t have to share any of the equipment.

As far as the workout itself goes, it was my favorite so far.  The sets and reps flowed nicely into one another and it was well-paced.  Because I personally felt a little pressed for time, I took minimal rest between sets and circuits and finished right at 20:01.  This particular workout features two back-to-back AMRAPs at the end, which make up a good chunk of the workout itself.  You are upright for most of it, so you can track your time reasonably well but, again, audio cues would be helpful here.  While it didn’t necessarily add additional time to the length of the class itself, I did find myself stopping to check the timer more often than I’d have wanted to, which did feel like an interruption to the flow of my workout and gave me a bit of a mental speedbump.  That said, this workout was very easy to accomplish in a hotel fitness center environment and travelers who want to maintain a workout routine while away from home would be able to fit it into even the most pressed of schedules.  

Last But Not Least, the Fully Equipped Gym

What even is a schedule anymore?  In, what feels like, the never-ending transition into our new home, we moved out of the hotel and into a townhouse on the Navy base that we’re relocating to while we wait for our actual home to be ready for us.  As such, I lost access to the (nice, quiet) hotel fitness center, but gained access to a wonderfully well-equipped gym.  If you’ve ever been on a military base, you’re well aware of how nice the fitness facilities can be.  If you’ve never been on a military base, I promise you, base gyms are VERY nice.  And very well-equipped.  I would have everything I needed in this setting…equipment-wise, anyway…so, I threw caution to the wind and selected an upper- and a lower-body workout, knowing that I would have access to anything “extra” that I would need, beyond the basics of dumbbells.  This week was a little more low-key in terms of my time commitments–our home wasn’t yet ready and our household goods were still in transit–so I was able test drive two Gym workouts this week:  a 20 minute chest and back designed by Adrian and a 30 minute lower body class that was built by Jess Sims.  Side note:  There is a typo in the description of Adrian’s class; it says 45-minutes but it is most definitely only twenty.

An Andy Speer-worthy rack of dumbbells

At the beginning of my chest and back class, there were zero people in the gym, and I felt awesome about that.  By the time I finished the warm up, there were 4 people in the gym, and I felt less awesome about that.  Right away, that proved to be too people-y and, even though there was a large selection of dumbbells, I still had to wait for several to free up, along with the accompanying benches and floor space.  The Peloton Gym app feature allows you to pause your workout without penalty, but even so, this added time to my workout beyond what I would have added for rest periods.  It did provide time to take an extra emotional lap or two, though, while I waited (although I think the person using the equipment mistook that for impatient pacing…oops!).  Between the wait times and the rest, I finished this workout at 22:16 and, while an additional two-minutes and change didn’t make or break my day, anyone pressed for time knows that extra time spent doing anything other than what you need to be doing can be a problem.  I also felt myself compensating for those wait times by rushing my rest periods, which created a little bit of a mental hurdle throughout the workout.

Later in the week, I returned to the base gym for my final class of this series:  Jess Sims’ 30 minute lower body class.  Again, the gym was empty when I arrived (I purposefully chose an off-hour so I could actually get my workout in), and it stayed that way for the entire time I was there, with the exception of two lovely retirees who stuck to the cardio equipment.  This allowed me to lift very heavy and very slow, comfortably controlling my pace for the entire workout.  It was a truly enjoyable experience, both with the class that Jess created and in the gym environment.  This class also features an EMOM, however it is so well-built, that you can add adequate rest while still finishing near the 30 minute mark (I ended the class at 30:12).  And, because I was able to lift heavier and slower, I felt this workout for days.  So, if you’re worried that you won’t get in a quality workout while using this feature, let me assure you that you have absolutely no reason to be concerned.  Soundtrack-wise, I revisited my favorite 90s hip-hop and Stadium Rock soundtracks and only found myself singing out loud one time before quickly catching myself and returning to my inner singalong.  

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is a great feature!  It’s as close to a traditional lifting program as it gets on the Peloton platform and is the ultimate You vs You workout.  Instructors have designed the classes, but you decide the weights, the rest, the pacing, etc. and it translates well into multiple different fitness environments. Though not prohibitive to beginners (beginner classes are included in each category), having a working knowledge of strength training and gym equipment is going to be very helpful if you’re using Peloton Gym in a traditional fitness center environment.  And, no matter where you choose to use the Gym feature, being comfortable with self-direction will help you manage your time through these workouts.  You should also make it a point to scroll through the entire class before hitting Start to familiarize yourself with what’s in store, and to make sure you have all of the necessary equipment available to you.  

While people who prefer working out at home, and especially introverts, may not enjoy this app feature in a gym setting at all, it can easily be adapted for home-use as long as you’re able to provide yourself with extra equipment or make appropriate modifications.  Music lovers, take note: it may seem like a small thing, but people (like me) who enjoy singing along to music during workouts may find that not being able to do so impacts how much they enjoy the workout.  That was certainly the case for me.  And, while I wouldn’t skip these workouts because of that factor alone, I did miss being able to jam out during my workout. 

Annnnnd, it probably goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: these classes will be a drain on your phone’s battery.  Due to the nature of the workout, your screen needs to be on the entire time so you can keep track of time and swipe through the workout blocks.  So, if you are in a travel situation where you can’t easily access a charger throughout the day, take that into consideration. 

Looking Ahead  

Since its release in May, Peloton has added 5 more Instructor-designed workouts from Jermaine Johnson, Selena Samuela, Rebecca Kennedy, Cliff Dwenger, and Matty Maggiacomo and, while the ability to filter is still not available, it remains very easy to scroll through and find the workout that suits your needs.  Additionally, we do expect the Gym feature to continue to be improved upon as time passes.  Improvements that I personally hope to see are the addition of audio cues for timed blocks like AMRAPs and EMOMS, and the ability to track weight progression within the app (perhaps with a graph feature to track progress as workouts are repeated).  

Peloton Gym is a free feature available to all Members in the Peloton App, on every tier and you can find it under Workouts.  Want to workout with me?  Find me on the Leaderboard at #MySprtsBrasStuk 

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