Health

Quarantine fitness diary: Forming better habits with Peloton

It’s going to take a while before things really go back to normal and even beyond that, I’m happy having my personal trainers “with me” right here at home.

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I don’t think I can thank my Peloton bike enough for what it’s been doing for me during this pandemic. A few days before the German government called for social distancing, we’ve already decided to stay home and minimise contact with other people so as not to be unwilling helpers in spreading the virus. One of our concerns, of course, was to stay healthy and keep our mental health in check. My husband and I keep to these goals by making sure we use the Peloton bike or the app daily.

With the amount of baking we’ve been doing during this time, it’s rather imperative that I build a solid fitness routine, but it’s not as easy as fitness influencers make it out to be.

What’s a Peloton anyway?

In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll do a quick run-through. Peloton is — first and foremost — a fitness company. They’re about 7 years old now and have been producing exercise equipment you can use at home.

Their most popular product is their indoor exercise bike. The bike comes with a screen where you can stream spin classes and other exercise videos. They also have an app which makes working out when you’re away from your bike possible. Aside from spin classes, they also have strength training videos, yoga, meditation, and other cardio workouts.

The past few years, Peloton has evolved from being one of those fad-dependent fitness companies into a lifestyle for its members. It got so popular that the company went public last year.

Simply put — it’s having everything you loved about spin classes and having a personal trainer right at the comfort of your own home and without having to deal with other people. No more shouty classmates, no more sharing equipment. An introvert’s dream come true — or even an extrovert who doesn’t appreciate sweaty surroundings.

Getting the bike is easy, you just order it online as well as the accessories you might need. From the spinning shoes to even a heart rate monitor that can help track your progress if you don’t have a fitness band yet. The bike connects to a FitBit or Strava.

You get the bike delivered, sign up for the monthly subscription to have access to the workout videos, which are either live-streamed or on demand. These workouts can be accessed via the monitor with the built-in interface that your bike comes with or through the Peloton app. Sadly, the app isn’t available in Germany but reps tell us it’s already in the works. You can still access the workouts on your phone or laptop via your browser, though.

You create your profile on the Peloton network, follow your friends, and take classes with instructors who are literally fitness goals. There’s quite a lot of them that there’s one for every type of rider.

The interface is pretty straightforward and easy to use. Each spin class is ruled by three numbers you see on your screen as you pedal for your life. Your Resistance number indicates how gritty the ride will be, while Cadence is your speed. Put those two together and you have your Output score. I’m usually more concerned about my cadence and would normally complain when the instructor asks for higher resistance.

With all this information out of the way, let me go ahead and tell you how my four weeks in quarantine went with my new fitness BFF.

Week 1

I’ve had the Peloton since the second week of February. I don’t have lofty fitness goals, to be honest. I just want to get into a routine and lose a bit of the flabs I developed thanks to writing about food and having more excuses than usual to eat. I also want to gain just a bit more strength and produce more endorphins to keep me happy.

The first week of social distancing had me eating more than the usual but I tried my best to commit to working out every day to stop myself from gaining more weight. It’s already sad enough that I can’t go and meet my friends, so let me hold on to my Pop Tart habit.

Peloton offers various fitness classes that run for as little as 5 minutes up to an hour. This week, I’ve been doing lots of 15 and 20-minute spinning classes to ease myself into working out more. I do this in between work and spending time with my husband and our dog.

Since there’s no strict quarantine in Berlin, we still get to go out but we’ve limited it to walking our dog and just buying the essentials. I’m happy that I still get to add some steps into my daily routine while increasing my heart rate with the bike.

The anxiety over what’s going on and how it’s already affecting thousands of people everywhere is enough to dampen one’s mood. I find myself having to put more effort into peeling myself from my computer and getting on the bike.

“I need this,” is something I keep telling myself. Once I’m on the bike, however, I focus on the task at hand — meeting what’s required of me cadence and resistance wise — and forget about what’s happening even just for 20 minutes.

The first week, I just did the minimum when it comes to numbers as actually getting on the bike already felt like an achievement.

Week 2

A member of our extended family died after displaying symptoms of Covid-19. As someone who suffers from crippling anxiety, this was a huge blow to my mood.

After a mini breakdown, I forced myself to get on the bike and take a 45 minute class with Cody since he’s the instructor who really gets me smiling — sometimes even laughing out loud — during the ride. It was a great distraction and I was in a much better mood after.

I also had a quick chat with Pete who manages the Berlin store and he advised me to try out the meditation classes. These can be accessed on the bike, on the app, or via a browser. They have different kinds – from energizing, healing, and even those that help you to be more empathic or kinder. I find it hard to shut my mind and with a dog running around the apartment, I always thought that meditation wasn’t for me but the classes dedicated to sleep were a huge help.

I also threw in some strength training — 10 minute arm or core exercises — especially on days when I end up taking a spin class that didn’t use weights. Sometimes, I forget to stretch and find that my feet and knees tend to ache if I don’t do this. So I made a reminder on my phone to remind me to stretch everyday.

For the classes on the bike, I tried going a little over the required resistance — maybe one to two points — passable output but nothing to write home about.

I also tried a couple more instructors and I really enjoyed German instructor Irene Scholz’ classes this week. I’m glad she’s got English classes! She’s one of the two Peloton instructors who conduct classes in German. She’s tough but her classes are also really enjoyable.

I feel a lot more energized these days and I love doing my workout right before going to bed. Showering after a good workout and going straight to bed also helped a lot in getting deeper sleep.

I tried a live class with my friend Nicole and we got to try the camera function. It was a little weird at first even though it’s basically just Facetiming but on the bike’s screen. It totally scared my dog but it was great seeing my friend sweating as much as me.

I used to go to spin studios a lot and while I wasn’t a fan of all the actual high fiving, the sweat flying around, and interacting with strangers while I’m dying on a bike, I must admit that I missed the feeling of seeing someone is sweating it out because the ride was difficult.  It was an Alex Toussaint spin class. He’s known for being one of the toughest instructors and someone you’d go for a ride with if you want to beat your last personal record for your output.

At one point, I decided to just let go of the numbers and enjoy. I got into the habit of hiding the leaderboard since the beginning of this week and I find that I have more fun this way.

Week 3

I tried dance cardio for the first time, another type of class you do off the bike. In these classes, you get two of the instructors teaching you dance moves.

This, however, is not your mom’s 80s-style dance workout. The steps are more modern and vary in difficulty. You also sweat a lot through the whole thing even if it seems rather easy.

I’m not a good dancer and I probably looked like a total loser but I had a ton of fun. It was just 20 minutes but it felt like such a good workout. Instead of low impact rides to recover from a tough ride the night before, I could probably stick to these instead.

Speaking of cardio, I want to give the running classes a try as well. I always found running boring so it was never my thing. However, their classes which you can do outdoors or on a treadmill might help in easing the boredom as it can feel like I have someone there with me, talking me through the whole thing.

I’m still wondering how people can have such high output scores. Are they pushing their legs much harder than I am? It’s so tough. A 30 minute Pop Ride leaves me so sweaty but at least I burn those Pop Tarts and baked goods, right?

I tried playing with the resistance knob by going much higher than expected on some rides. Still quite hard to sustain it but I noticed that I can now go for over 5 minutes without stopping to heave and wheeze. I smoked for a decade so I’m just happy I don’t need to completely stop to recover nowadays.

I gave more instructors a try and I’m really enjoying Hannah Marie Corbin’s classes lately. She’s the right amount of fun and positivity without being too perky — just a personal preference.

I’ve been wondering whether I should do multiple, shorter rides per day instead of one long ride. It feels like it’s taking forever for me to reach 100 rides. It’s a milestone that can earn you a shoutout from the instructor if you do a live spin class in time for it.

Next week, I’ll challenge myself to do more than one workout per day so hopefully, my schedule cooperates.

Week 4

The problem with working from home is that you technically never leave your “office”. So I must admit it’s been pretty difficult to squeeze one more workout in every single day. I have been trying, though – believe me.

I’d normally add a five-minute arm toning session or core workout after a ride if I have the time and energy left. Normally, I’d select the class I want from the Peloton bike’s monitor and choose the option to cast it to our smart TV in the living room. You can also follow along on your phone but it’s a lot easier from a bigger screen, of course.

Funny enough, I’ve been successful in getting a bit of my abs back but got a bit delayed in losing all of my bits that turn into what is popularly called a ‘muffin top’. I did not lose a lot of weight but somehow, my clothes fit better and there’s been some significant space in my jeans. I also feel like I have more energy throughout the day.

At this point, I’ve realised who my favourite instructors are and tend to stick to them — Cody, Irene, Denis, Ally, and Hannah Marie. I’m not that technical nor looking into a huge increase in my output during my rides. I ride for a lot of fun, positive energy, and a really sweaty cardio session. This doesn’t mean they’re easy instructors, though. I feel like dying after most rides.

I personally like how Denis builds up the difficulty of his rides, starting high on the cadence with a manageable resistance to warm you up before things get much tougher.

By this time, I was feeling a little confident and at the request of my friend Nicole, I took the Alex Toussaint class again which we did on week 2. Not gonna lie – it was still extremely tough. However, I find that I was wheezing less and I was actually able to set a new personal record – 6 points higher than the last time I took this class.

With Covid-19 and the lockdown in New York, new content and live rides have been pretty slow. At this point, Peloton has started letting their instructors do live rides from their homes. It feels different without the studio setup but with the same level of fun and energy.

I signed up for the annual challenge that requires taking a total of 2000 minutes on the bike. I also went for some of this month’s challenges.

For April, there’s a Spring challenge that asks you to stay active for 30 days by doing any type of class. There’s also the usual challenge of the month that requires 5 days of being active and a cycling challenge that asks members to ride for at least 80.5 kilometers.

I find that they’re such a good way to keep you coming back on the bike and for the other classes as well. Not that I need any more convincing at this point — I’m practically addicted both to the spinning workouts and trying out the other classes on Peloton website. Once the app is available in Germany, gaining access to the other workouts would be a lot easier compared to going through the browser.

I’m progressing pretty well when it comes to the challenges, taking things at my own pace. My main focus is to make sure I don’t lose my 30-day (and counting) streak.

I have to say that in this time of restrictions, I feel like I gained a new type of freedom when it comes to dealing with my body issues and forming better habits for my fitness. I have the bike at home and seeing it everyday reminds me of goals I have set for my fitness. This has helped a lot in maintaining my streak.

Will I give this achievement up after quarantine? Is it even worth keeping my Peleton bike after this pandemic?

I personally think it is. It’s an investment in one’s physical health and because of the convenience it offers. It’s still going to take a while before things really go back to normal and even beyond that, I’m happy having my personal trainers “with me” right here at home.

This article is also available in German over at Mobile Geeks.

Apps

YogiFi is a yoga mat that corrects your form in real-time

Your personal yoga instructor

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Many of us are coming up with new routines as we stay indoors. If you’re finding it hard to find a physical activity that you can do in a limited space, yoga is something you can try.

Practicing yoga may look easy, but doing it right can be pretty challenging, especially when you’re only following a YouTube video. YogiFi is an AI-powered yoga mat that provides guided instructions and real-time corrections on your poses.

The sensors on the mat tracks your yoga sequences and tracks your vitals before and after each session. This lets you track your progress so you can feel more motivated the next time you hit the mat.

It comes with a companion app that offers 25 programs. You can select your personal trainer and set your goals.

YogiFi is live on Kickstarter and is currently available for backers at US$ 199.

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Peloton vs excuses: Mind tricks that can help you squeeze in a workout

For those struggling to keep a routine

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If anyone tells you that having a personal gym at home will remove all barriers to working out, they’re lying.

The Peloton bike packs an insane amount of tech that should help me stay on track, so I should have no excuses not to exercise, right? With it I can do live and on-demand spin classes, strength training, yoga, even meditation and sleep courses. Having it at home also means not needing to make time to travel to the gym. And yet, despite all of this, I still find reasons to shun fitness on the daily.

If you’re like me who typically gets a good week of workouts and then hits a slump when life happens, I’ve compiled some tips that you might find useful. Here are some ways I tricked myself into working out more regularly whenever I struggle to do classes on my Peloton.

Find the time that makes sense for you

After doing your workouts for a while, take note of when you enjoy it the most. For me, sweating it out in the morning works best. If I tell myself that I’ll workout later in the day, it just never happens. I’m just not someone who enjoys exercising in the afternoon or evening as much.

Make it habit

While some people make plans, I just tell myself that I’ll work out everyday and figure it out later.

Peloton has workouts that are as short as 10 or 15 minutes. Even when pressed for time, 15 minutes is just that — 15 minutes. 

Those days I end up not exercising I would just consider recovery days. Our muscles need time to rest after all.

Take a scenic ride

Another trick I do is telling myself to do 10 minutes of a scenic ride. This is an option on the bike if you don’t feel like doing a class. You can ride at your own pace while the monitor shows beautiful landscapes and cities.

What usually happens when I do this is I end up doing an additional 10 minutes of arm workout. Often, I’ll feel warmed up and ready for a regular class afterwards.

Warming up at my own pace without any pressure to perform gets me in the right mindset to actually do a full workout. There are lots of other warm up rides available, too, but they’re usually pretty tough. Picking something that has no pressure eases me in.

Low impact doesn’t mean low effort

When I discovered the low impact ride, I wondered why I hadn’t been doing them all along.

I’m an old lady, or at least my body feels that way. I’ve gotten injured a few times riding the bike: the tendonitis in my thumb flared up, and the muscles that aren’t used to being used so much protested.

You still get a great workout when you choose low impact, but you’ll never achieve a personal best — and that’s perfectly okay.

Put the leaderboad away

Now we’re going to dip into the tech side of things. The leaderboard pushes you to get your personal best, which is great. But when I don’t want to work out, I’ll tell myself that a 45min class will be more doable if I take the leaderboard away. As a competitive person, I always get horrified at my performance when I check it because I don’t push myself nearly as hard apparently.

Pick a class with a gimmick

Peloton offers so many kinds of classes with different genres of music. I’ve done Guns N’ Roses as well as Madonna rides. Jess King has a show tunes series, and there are rides with a DJ.

Whenever I don’t feel motivated to exercise, I think of it as entertainment first and that’s how I trick myself into doing a full workout.

Save classes that made you feel good

When you save classes that made you feel good, you’ll be reminded of that feeling when you see it again on the monitor.When struggling to pick a class, I choose from a bunch of saved classes that I don’t mind doing again.

If I can’t bring myself to face a new challenge, doing one that I’ve already smashed is the best way to go!

Lower the instructors voice

If you have classes where you loved the soundtrack, save them and then choose to have more music and less instructor. It’s amazing how much having motivational music blasting helps.

Forgot how to change the audio mix? Hit the volume button on the right hand side of the display and then change the mix. You have to do it each time as it always resets back to an even mix of music and voice.

Find more tips and tricks on how to maximize your bike here.

Do a class with weights

Doing weights is challenging, but it gives your legs some rest. A 45-minute class is sometimes better than 30 minutes because I know I’ll get breaks to do weights.

Pick your feel-good instructor

Sometimes, picking an instructor that fits your your mood is all you need. When I just want to do a feel good class, I pick Cody because he’s like my gay best friend and his classes are always entertaining. Seeing instructors have a bit of a hard time with the workout is also the energy that motivates me to give the workout everything that I got.

Should you be taking workout advice from someone who struggles with working out? Probably not. Was this entire article about how to work out a little less hard? Maybe.

It would be unfair to say that fitness isn’t a big part of my life. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about working out more than working out itself. It’s one of my favorite past times.

Keeping a consistent workout routine is what I’m struggling with right now. These mind tricks have at least helped me get my ass on the bike and squeeze a workout in even when I don’t feel like it. And for someone who isn’t a disciplined fitness freak, that’s all that matters.

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Nike’s ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ campaign will help you stay active at home

Let’s get physical!

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Photo by Form Fitness

When gyms are out of reach and when your home doesn’t have any equipment, how do you continue your pursuit of an active and healthy lifestyle?

In a time when we absolutely need to stay at home, Nike runs its ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ campaign so we can still get physical.

Nike’s goal is to help everyone stay active, positive, and healthy — even when we’re all miles apart. Through their microsite, Nike shares tips and tricks tackling self-care, modified workouts, nutrition, and meditation.

For those who want to feel connected, Nike hosts community workouts through Instagram Live. Local Nike athletes, trainers, and coaches lead live-streamed sessions — whether it’s HIIT, Hip-hop dancing, or power yoga. Schedules are updated weekly, so it’s best to check it from time to time!

Schedule for May 25-29, 2020

If you just want to focus on your own workouts, Nike Training Club can be a great companion. The app houses free workouts you can do at home, which will help you with strength, endurance, and mobility. There are also guided yoga sessions, in case you’re into that.

Personally, I enjoy Nike Training Club’s bodyweight exercises, and I’ve been using their Bodyweight workout plan. In case you didn’t know, you can create a workout plan (and modify it to your liking) so you can commit yourself to an active and healthy lifestyle.

The Nike Training Club app is available on the Play Store and App Store.

SEE ALSO: Nike+ Training Club app review7 home workouts you don’t need a gym membership for

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