Lisa Whitney, a registered dietitian in Reno, Nev., Came across a lifetime deal about two years ago. A gym is about to discontinue business and sell its equipment. She scored an indoor gym bike for $ 100.
Ms. Whitney soon made some additions to the bike. She puts her iPad on the wheel. She then experimented with online cycling classes streamed on YouTube and on the Peloton app, an internet-connected fitness equipment maker that offers similar fitness classes. cooperation.
Ms. Whitney doesn’t want to upgrade to one of Peloton’s $ 1,900 luxury fitness bikes, which includes a tablet to stream classes and sensors that track your speed and heart rate. . So she further modified her bike to be a homemade Peloton, buying sensors and indoor cycling shoes.
Total: about $ 300, plus $ 13 monthly subscription to the Peloton app. Not cheap, but a substantial discount for what she could have paid for.
“I’m happy with my setup,” said Ms. Whitney, 42,. “I really don’t think the upgrade will do much.”
The pandemic has shut down many gyms, causing many people to flock to luxury items such as Peloton’s bicycles and treadmills so they can exercise at home. Taking advantage of this trend, last year, Apple released Apple Fitness Plus, a fitness guide app provided exclusively for Apple Watch owners, that requires an iPhone to work.
But all of that can be expensive. Apple Watch and iPhone minimum prices go up to $ 600, and Apple Fitness Plus costs $ 10 a month. Then, to stream classes on a big screen TV instead of a phone while exercising, you need a streaming device like the Apple TV, which costs around $ 150. The full Peloton experience is even more expensive.
With our economy in a slump, many of us are trying to tighten our spending while maintaining good health. So I experimented with ways to minimize the cost of training with video tutorials at home, talk to tinkerers, and evaluate pros and cons.
Here’s what I learned.
Pros and Cons of Free
To start a cheap home workout experiment, the first question I address is whether to sign up for a fitness app or stream classes from YouTube for free. Both large sections provide videos of instructors instructing you on how to practice.
So I bought a $ 8 yoga mat and a pair of adjustable $ 70 weights and turned on my TV, including the YouTube app. I then subscribed to three of the most popular YouTube channels with free content for home exercise: Yoga With Adriene, Fitness Blender, and Holly Dolke.
One immediate downside is that there’s almost too much content – usually hundreds of videos per YouTuber – making training difficult. Even when I finally chose a video, I learned that I had to prepare myself for some quality issues.
For example, in the channel Yoga With Adriene, I chose the video “Yoga for When You Feel Dead Inside”, which feels relevant to the era we live in. Videos are beautiful but sometimes the instructor’s voice is muffled.
The production issues are more clearly shown in the Holly Dolke channel, which has a collection of intense exercises that you can do without any equipment. When I tried the video “Muffin Top Melter”, an instructor in the back demonstrated how to do a harder version of each exercise, but another instructor, in front, kept blocking her.
Then there are the advertisements. When I lifted weights while watching a 10-minute fat-burning workout from the Fitness Blender, YouTube snapped off the video to play an ad for Dawn soap. That made me hold a dumbbell on the back of my neck while I waited for the commercial to end.
Those issues aside, I was able to do all the exercises shown by these YouTube users, and they drenched my sweat. As for the free cost, I can’t complain much. Most importantly, Yoga With Adriene has succeeded in making me feel less stuck.
What you get at checkout
To compare the free YouTube fitness videos to the paid experience, I subscribed to Peloton and Apple Fitness Plus on my Apple TV decoder box. I have been practicing using both products for the past two months.
Peloton and Apple Fitness Plus have solved many problems related to free fitness content.
Workouts are first organized into categories according to exercise type, including yoga, strength and core training, and then by difficulty or duration of the exercise. Take a little time to choose an exercise.
In both Peloton and Apple Fitness Plus, the video and audio quality was clear, and the exercises were shot at different angles so that we could clearly see what the instructors were doing. The Fitness Plus rewards are my heart rate and calories burned displayed on both the Apple Watch and the TV screen.
In short, paying those subscriptions is more convenient and polished, leading to a more pleasant workout. I conclude that Peloton videos are worth $ 13 a month. And $ 10 a month is reasonable for Apple Fitness Plus, but only if you already have an Apple Watch and an iPhone.
So what about fitness equipment like spinning bikes? If you want the tech frills of a Peloton but don’t want to spend on equipment, there are two main approaches.
To go the cheapest route you can use a bike that you already have. This is a place where home repairers can be particularly cunning and resourceful.
See Omar Sultan, a manager at Cisco networking company. He’s modified his long-distance bike with a few add-ons: a training bike, which protects the rear wheels and bike frame and costs around $ 100; a $ 40 Wahoo rhythm sensor that tracks his speed and pedal output and transmits data to a smartphone; and a chest-strap heart rate monitor, such as the $ 90 Polar H10. He then uses his streaming device to watch Peloton classes on his TV.
“Setting up DIY is 80% of the way there,” said Sultan.
The more expensive option is to buy an indoor exercise bike and use your tablet or phone to stream cycling classes via YouTube or the Peloton app, as Ms. Whitney did. For example, the $ 700 IC7.9 includes a metronome and a stand for your tablet. You can then buy a heart rate monitor and a pair of $ 100 indoor cycling shoes to clasp on to the pedal.
But if you use your own bike or a modified spin bike and try out Peloton’s app, you won’t be able to participate in the so-called app’s leaderboard, which graphically displays progress. account against other Peloton users online.
With a homemade bike, it can also be difficult to figure out how to shift gears to simulate when the instructor asks you to increase drag – like when you pretend to ride up a hill.
Nicole Odya, a Chicago-based nurse practitioner who modifies a premium indoor bike, the Keizer M3i, says there are major benefits to the DIY route. Using her own iPad, she has the flexibility to choose whichever fitness app she wants to use, such as Zwift and mPaceLine. It also gives her the freedom to customize her bike, so she swapped stock pedals for better ones.
“I don’t want to be locked into their platform,” she said of Peloton.