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.

Published

on

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.

Health

Roidmi X20 review: Cleaning no longer feels like a chore

Make vacuuming exciting again

Published

on

Now more than ever, keeping our homes hygienic and sparkling clean should be top priority. Cleaning your apartment can be daunting especially if you don’t do it a lot and have dust and cobwebs accumulating in every possible corner. What’s helped turn things around for me while in quarantine is the Roidmi X20 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner.

Design that meets your minimalist aesthetic

Unlike a lot of other cordless vacuum cleaners, the Roidmi X20 comes in a rather minimal package. Its design is refined and elegant, not robotic or futuristic. It looks more like something that will blend in with your home decor and furniture.

It comes in two colors — Obsidian Gold and Ink Black and White — the one I have is the latter.

It’s also designed to be quieter so unless you have paper-thin walls, when set at its lowest power your next-door neighbors won’t know you’re doing some house chores.

Buttons are placed on the grip for easy access. It has three power modes, which can be changed with a press of a button. With the highest suction power at 145AW, this makes it a little bit more powerful than the Dyson V10 and the LG Cordzero A9 Ultimate.

Its air-x dust separation technology ensures that the X20 won’t encounter the common problem of suction reduction because of blockage in the filter.

The overall design and simple structure of direct multi-stage suction makes it lighter and less bulky than other cordless stick vacuums. Weighing at just 1.5kg, the Roidmi X20 makes vacuuming a lot less tiring.

Buy the Roidmi X20 for $449

Multiple attachments make the task seem less daunting

Seeing how much cleaning you need to do is overwhelming — a feeling I certainly had when I finally had time to give the Roidmi X20 a go.

As with big projects at work, having access to multiple vacuum attachments makes the big task seem more doable. They help break it down into multiple smaller tasks.

The main attachment is the carbon soft rolling brush, which is what you use to clean the floor. It works well on wood, tiles, and softer surfaces like carpets and rugs.

The Roidmi X20 is the first smart cordless vacuum with a mop, so there is a magnetic mop accessory that can hold up to 160ml of liquid. With this attachment, it slowly sprinkles water or your cleaning solution of choice as you glide it through the floor so you save time by vacuuming and mopping at once.

One of my favorite features is the light-sensitive LED on this attachment. It automatically lights up when you’re vacuuming dark, hard to reach areas like those under the couch and the bed. These are parts of the apartment you usually ignore when cleaning since the dirt in there is not as visible.

Buy the Roidmi X20 for $449

There’s a small attachment for crevices and areas that don’t fit the soft rolling brush. This is great for not just for the dust that accumulates in corners, but also cleaning the small spaces between the pots of your indoor plants, as well as those tiny spaces between books in shelves, or behind the lamp on your bedside table.

The extender helps elongate the vacuum, and is great for cleaning curtains and ceilings. With it, you no longer have to step on a ladder or stool just to get rid of cobwebs.

The extender, of course, works with every other attachment, so you also don’t have to duck and risk lower back pain you’re vacuuming the floor with the soft-rolling brush.

You don’t have to be a germophobe to not want to bring the germs from the floor to your bed. This is why I appreciate that the Roidmi X20 comes with a dedicated mattress brush. If you’ve never vacuumed your mattress before, you’d be surprised at how gross it actually is once you do.

Battery life will change your cleaning habits

Despite its good design and ergonomics, and included attachments, life isn’t rainbows and unicorns with the Roidmi X20. Its biggest weakness is also one that is very important to me: battery life.

At its lowest suction power, the vacuum lasts 65 minutes and a mere 10 minutes at the highest. I got to admit, this was a struggle at the very beginning because of how much cleaning I had to do. Worse, it takes more than 2 hours to fully charge the vacuum.

Now this would have been acceptable if it worked while it’s plugged in. Unfortunately, there’s just no way to charge and clean at the same time.

Now, I’m not one to give up on something because of one obstacle. If anything, I take things like this as a rewiring experience — a way to reassess how I do things.

Instead of letting dust accumulate for more than four weeks, I now clean the apartment more often, so I only have to do it for shorter periods of time. Knowing that you only need to clean for one hour at a time is also less overwhelming than the thought of quarterly deep cleaning that consumes your entire weekend.

The Roidmi X20’s poor battery life has made me look forward to cleaning every weekend. It now feels less like a chore, but an activity that I’m excited to make time for.

Buy the Roidmi X20 for $449

It’s also worth noting that it comes with a magnetic wireless charging wall dock that I haven’t gotten around to mounting. It should make putting the vacuum away in a more orderly fashion, but installing anything on the wall is a pretty big commitment for me to make at this point.

There is also an app that you can pair it with, but it’s not that useful. It shows information like battery life and whether the filter needs emptying, which the small LED indicators on the vacuum itself can tell you anyway.

Is the Roidmi X20 your GadgetMatch?

If you are looking to buy a cordless vacuum cleaner, the Roidmi X20’s minimal design and small build are the biggest features to consider. At US$ 449 a good option that offers the same, if not more suction power than its more expensive counterparts from the likes of Dyson and LG. The attachments you get are also the standard ones you get from other brands.

Its poor battery life is a drawback if you have a bigger space. If you’re like me and live in a small apartment, it’s more than enough. This is especially true if you can instead see it as a silver lining that forces you to change old habits and makes cleaning exciting again.

Buy the Roidmi X20 for $449

Continue Reading

Features

Is the Peloton bike worth it?

Fitness does not come cheap

Published

on

Getting a Peloton is more than just getting a bike; it’s joining a community. When you first start talking to someone who has the bike, they always talk about how irrationally in love they are with it. Now that I have it, I finally understand why.

After all, the bike isn’t just for taking classes and Peloton isn’t just another fitness company. Peloton is a technology company that’s creating communities and experiences that enable you to get the most out of your workouts. All of these, however, come with a pretty hefty price tag.

Peloton versus a gym membership

The bike costs EUR 2230 (US$ 2245) and an additional EUR 39 (US$ 39) a month for the classes and digital services.

Think of it like this: The digital services are like what you would pay for your monthly gym membership, and the cost of the bike is your sign up fee. If you look at it as a 3-year commitment, it ends up around something like 102.89 a month.

If you compare it to a high-end spin studio it starts to look cheap. BeCycle in Berlin, for example, offers 12 classes a month for EUR 200, and 16 for EUR 239. SoulCycle in London offers 30 classes that can be used over 12 months for around EUR 700.

It’s clear the way SoulCycle expects you to take their classes as something you add to your fitness routine a few times a month. The cost of 30 classes over the year with SoulCycle is the price of unlimited classes with Peloton, and you can do more than just spinning with the latter.

If you start to think of Peloton as a long term fitness commitment, the pricing no longer seems outrageous.

Four things that make Peloton worth it

Well-rounded classes that go beyond the bike

With Peloton, you get access to hundreds of on-demand classes and a dozen or so live classes a day. Peloton might have started with just cycling but they’ve added dance cardio, sleep coaching, running, meditation, walking, and strength training. They even have yoga classes — some of which cater to expecting mothers.

Social aspect

New research shows exercise can be contagious, and social pressure is a fantastic motivator. With Peloton, you can schedule rides with friends or join group classes — live or on demand. You can also connect with friends to see how often they ride.

Built for competitive people

The leaderboard on the right hand side pushes you to pass the next rider, and this is by far my no. 2 motivator.

Ugly sweat brings the drama

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not too proud to be a sweaty mess in public. But working out at home also means I can bring the drama. Often I find myself falling over and gasping for air like I’m JLaw in Passengers trying to breathe in that floating water bubble. If we’re talking about worth, the ability to be extra dramatic at home is priceless!

Two girls, one Peloton

Both Carol and I have a Peloton bike at home so we thought it was worthwhile to give you two takes on the same question. Is it worth it?

Nicole

If you’re like me and have a 20-euro monthly gym membership, it’s going to take a lot more than comparing Peloton’s pricing to a high-end fitness studio that I wouldn’t have paid for in the first place.

If you’re someone who has the self-discipline and already goes (or used to go, before quarantine happened) to the gym multiple times a week, Peloton is a good alternative. It’s a high-end fitness studio in your home. The best parts of having your own gym at home is not wasting any time travelling to the gym and the workouts and instructors are varied enough that you won’t get bored.

If you’re someone who thinks that getting a Peloton would be like buying the willpower to work out, you also won’t be disappointed.

In a separate article, I talked about living in a 38sqm flat during lockdown and still managed to find excuses NOT to work out. At the end of the day, even though I struggle with consistency, I’m in better shape now than I was over the past year of having a cheap gym membership and supplementing it with ClassPass.

Having a Peloton bike at home is great because you constantly see the bike. It’s like getting constant reminders that you’re not working out. This is what I’ve come to realize — it’s not that I’m not working out enough; it’s that I would feel guilty about not working out.

If this sounds terrible to you — which it should — don’t worry. Half of the time this guilt is replaced with motivation and a desire to get on the bike and get stronger.

The only way for me to stomach paying that much for a bike is to convince myself that it’s essentially a gym membership. After five months with it, I’m not even sure that I could go back to any other way of working out — especially since gyms are high risk areas and I’m just overly cautious.

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

Carol

As someone who grew up skinny, working out was never part of my routine until I discovered spinning back in 2014. Through spinning, I learned that fitness doesn’t have anything to do with your dress size and that working out can actually be fun. It’s not the most affordable choice for workouts, but the music and the endorphin rush always left me with such a high.

I have to admit I was never a fan of the physical high fives and the loud classmates who love to go “Wooh!” throughout the class. They made me hyper aware of how much I’m struggling through the pushes and how much of a mess I look during the whole ordeal. Palm sweat on palm sweat with strangers always gave me the heebie-jeebies even before social distancing was a thing.

Having a Peloton at home brings all the things I love about spin class and leaves the things I hate about it somewhere else. I can enjoy the music, add some extra dance moves if I want to, and even sing along without worrying if I get a little too loud over that Sia song. I even started answering instructors as if they could hear me, screaming how ready I am for the ride and throwing in my own “woohs!” into the mix.

Before the pandemic, I was already really happy over the fact that I have the bike at home. Time is money and having the bike at home has given me more free time since I don’t have to make my way to and from the spin studio I frequent here in Berlin. While spin studios tend to go all out in their facilities, nothing beats showering or taking a long hot bath after a workout.

When the pandemic hit and gyms in Berlin were shuttered, I was just so thankful to have the Peloton at home. It’s a common misconception that Peloton is just for spinning and I made sure to get into the other workouts they offer while we were spending most of the time at home. During this time, I committed to doing at least one thing with the Peloton app every day.

It doesn’t even have to be a heavy sweat session. It could just be a good stretch or even a short time allotted for meditation. So even if you’re not a big fitness junkie. Trust me, it’s worth it. I’m so far from being in the upper half of the leaderboard but the fact that I get to burn most of what I ate during the day and work on relaxing my mind before bed has been such great help for my whole well-being.

SEE ALSO: Quarantine fitness diary: Forming better habits with Peloton

Since the restrictions have been relaxed and the weather has gotten so much better, I started going out more and one of the challenges, as Nicole said, is sticking to your commitment to work out. But seeing the bike at home really makes for a great reminder. If you’re someone who always has a full calendar, someone who’s busy at work, and is in need of a way to get fit and forget the world for a little bit then this is something for you. My husband and I both feel the guilt over missing a day of working out. Not because of anything else but the fact that we missed out on doing something we enjoy.

Is the Peloton worth it?

Of course it is, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to you to make the most out of it.

Let us know in the comments what you’re looking forward to when you get your bike! See you on the leaderboard soon.

SEE ALSO: Peloton tips and tricks: How to make the most out of your workout

Continue Reading

Apps

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

Your personal yoga instructor

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Trending