Spin your way to fitness
Spinning may be the exercise for you if you’re looking to improve your health without leaving your home. Using a stationary bike with an efficient flywheel you can work on your strength, endurance and cardiovascular performance. Spinning sessions are intense and demand an effort that gives you a full body workout.
Peloton adds a layer of technology and a vibrant community to revolutionise the sport and keep you pedalling through the pain barrier. They are quite expensive though – not everyone can afford such a premium piece of equipment. Don’t worry, there is another way… Just build your own and use the app to enjoy the same interactive Peloton session on your phone or tablet!
What equipment to I need?
You don’t need much to get started:
- A spinning bike
- A connected device – phone or tablet
- A phone or tablet holder
- The Peloton app and a monthly digital subscription
- A bluetooth Cadence / speed sensor
- A rubber or foam floor mat to iron out bumps and vibrations
Realistically, how much might it cost?
For a quality set-up you could spend anywhere between £300 and £500, compared to £2000 for a Peloton. You can spend less – Spinning bikes start at just £150, but keep an eye out for quality – there is such a thing as too cheap.
Right, lets get started building our Budget Peloton Beater!
The bike is obviously the most important part. You sit on this during your workout so it has to be comfortable and suitable for the job. There is a difference between a spinning bike and an excercise bike. Spinning bikes usually have a large wheel at the front, connected to the pedals by a belt or chain. Excercise bikes are usually smaller and the pedals may be connected direct to the spinning wheel.
For the best results don’t use a normal folding exercise bike – it must be a spinning bike with a large flywheel. This is a big, heavy wheel that provides the resistance that makes spinning such a challenge. When you pedal the flywheel faster and faster, hence the name. The larger the flywheel the more it can challenge you as you exercise.
The flywheel on a Peloton weighs around 17kg, while some start at 5kg. For your DIY Peloton a flywheel weight of 13kg or more is a good target. Amazon lists a range of spinning bikes that are suitable. Try this search on Amazon to see the whole range.
The cadence sensor tells your phone or tablet how fast you are pedalling so the Peloton app knows how fast your virtual bike is travelling. You need a cadence sensor that measures rpm, and is compatible with your phone via bluetooth.
There are lots of different versions and models, but we are going to cheat and just tell you a brand that we know works well, and receives good reviews.
Wahoo cadence sensors are used by a lot of DIY spinners and come in a range of prices and specifications. We have listed two – a rpm sensor and a deluxe version that reports both rpm and speed. The cadence sensor attaches to a pedal, while the speed sensor goes near the spinning flywheel to measure your speed.
For the full experience consider adding a heart rate monitor as well. Wahoo make a full range of bluetooth heart monitors.
Phone / tablet holder
A lot of modern spinnign bikes come with a tablet holder built in, but if you’re using your phone you might need to add your own. Luckily Amazon has you covered: bike phone and tablet holders.
Phone / tablet
You probably have a perfectly good phone or tablet that you can use so we’re not going to dwell on this too much.
As the aim is to create a budget Peloton we aren’t going to tell you to go and buy a new one.
The Peloton app is available for iOS and all recent versions of Android so if you bought your phone in the last 5 years and you have space to install the app you’re good to go.
Rubber / foam mat
We’re going to trust you on this one – you just need something to protect your floor and soak up vibrations.
But is it as good?
If you are building your very own Peloton spinning rig on a budget then thge experience won’t be the same as an official Peloton bike, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be as good.
When you specify and build your own set-up you can tailor it to meet your own requirements. That could mean making the bike easier to fold up and store, or installing a more comfortable seat. Plus, of course, you can make it fit your budget as well as your living room.
Do I have to use the official Peloton app?
Nope. Peloton might be the most popular but there are a lot of alternatives on the Android Play store and iPhone AppStore. The Zwift app is very well thought of and hs a vibrant community to help you along as you exercise.
Am I tied into the subscription?
Because you are only subscribing to digital content you don’t have to commit to a long term contract. If you don’t plan to use your bike for a while, or perhaps want to try another app, simply cancel your subscription and renew it when you are ready to continue.
What if I want it all done for me?
Don’t worry, Peloton don’t make the only bike that comes nearly ready to go! Take a look at these spinning bikes which come with all the sensors built in. Just add your own phone or tablet and you’re good to go.
What type of workout do I get from a spinning bike or Peloton?
Spinning on a home-made peloton is a work-out for your whole body. Spinning strengthens your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, chest, and core muscles, as well as your arms and shoulders.
The increased resistance develops more muscle than a conventional bike, so heavier flywheels yield the biggest gains.
A quick reminder. Spinning is intense and physical so you’re going to perspire. A lot. It’s a sweaty business, spinning.
That means you need to stay hydrated to get the most out of your workout. When you’re hydrated your blood flows smoothly throughout your body, but as you sweat out fluids your blood thickens, making it more difficult for your heart to pump blood around your body. Drink water before and during your workout to stay safe and healthy.