Fifteen Beginner Rides

Yeah, I know, it’s been nearly three years since I posted anything here. That’s not what this post is about, though, so don’t dwell on it. Moving on…

I started with my Peloton bike back in December. I’d heard from a number of friends about how life-changing it was for them, and seeing them have tremendous results in their fitness. I’ve never been able to sustain any kind of momentum with exercise. Biking is something that I have had slightly more than minimal success with at various times in the past, though.

Pedaling by myself at the gym wasn’t going to get me results; I needed instruction and guidance. Pedaling by myself outdoors wasn’t as much as an option as I would’ve liked, since I wasn’t right on a bike trail, and would need to drive to a trail — not feasible on a daily basis to fit with my commute to work.

I’d tried an in-person spin class last year, which was such a humbling experience. I was the only man in the introductory class, full of women of various ages and fitness levels. I could keep my pedals going throughout the class, but I was the only person who couldn’t stay pedaling “out of the saddle” (standing on the pedals) for more than 30 seconds. I was drenched in sweat, my legs were burning, and my male ego was crushed. Sure, it shouldn’t have bothered me to get my butt kicked by all those women — none of them were carrying close to my body weight, and none were in as bad of shape as me — but I still wasn’t jumping at the chance to go for another live class.

Peloton appealed to me by giving me instructor-led classes on-demand, at home, where no one but me would know how hard a time I was having keeping up with the instructor. After lots of back and forth, with encouragement from my wife, we finally pulled the trigger and bought the thing.

My first rides in December were experiments. I tried to get a habit going in January, though no kind of consistency stuck. Then came February, when I went out of town, and then we moved from our apartment to a house. The madness of moving continued into March, while we were still clearing things out of the old place, and getting the new place set up. Riding the bike and getting into a habit was an afterthought.

All the while, I was eating like crap. I was watching the scale climb every day, seeing the pounds adding on. The progress with my weight that I’d made over the previous year was out the window. When I saw a certain number come up for the first time in a year and a half, it was a wakeup call that I needed to get serious.

I made a little plan for myself, with the goals as follows:

  1. Do a 20-minute Beginner ride daily, trying out each Peloton instructor in turn. Do a 5-minute post-ride stretch afterwards.
  2. Do a 30-minute Advanced Beginner ride daily, trying out each Peloton instructor in turn. Do a 5-minute post-ride stretch afterwards.
  3. If I counted properly, do my next two rides as live rides. That should give me one live ride as practice, then have my next live ride be my milestone 50th.
  4. Increase to 45-minute rides after that.

As of today, I’m finished with the first stage. It wasn’t perfect… but I’m pleased with the experience and the results.

I started by listing out all of the active Peloton cycling instructors in a spreadsheet. Since there were so many of them that I’d never taken a ride with yet, I wanted to get the variety, see who I enjoyed riding with, and who got me the best results. I challenged myself to ride before work during the week, instead of at the end of the day. I set my alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier every day. I bookmarked one 20-minute Beginner ride with each instructor. Since there were 5 male instructors and 10 female instructors, I’d stagger with one male followed by two females.

I missed one day due to feeling under the weather. I lost a few of my bookmarks due to the NPMA lawsuit against Peloton and had to find some alternative classes. One instructor, Ally Love, didn’t have any 20-minute Beginner classes available on-demand anymore; luckily, I had a previous result from one of Ally’s classes to include in my result set.

The results for the first 15 are in, with Total Output measured in kilowatts:Total Output by Instructor, 20 minute Beginner Rides

I was surprised by the poor results with Hannah Marie Corbin, since I enjoyed the ride; more data needed!

The classes with Dennis Morton, Alex Toussaint, Emma Lovewell, Cody Rigsby, and Jess King were all on weekends, at a different time in the morning, compared to 5:30am for the weekday rides. On the weekend rides, I’d been awake for at least a couple of hours, with breakfast and coffee fueling me, whereas weekdays were on an empty stomach. It’s telling that not only did I have higher output on the weekends, but I even did EXTRA rides after the 20-minute rides with Alex, Emma, and today with Jess.

I’ll be dropping a few of the instructors from the plan. For instance, I really didn’t like the ride I did with Jenn Sherman; the audio quality for the two London-based instructors, Leanne Hainsby and Ben Alldis, was an obstacle to being able to understand the instructions.

I’m going to modify the remaining stages of my plan as a result. I’m not going to aim for getting through each instructor any more, as I know some who I don’t plan to ride with again. Since I also squeezed in some extra rides during this time, my milestone 50th ride won’t be when I originally mapped out. Finally, I’m not sure that I can go with 45-minute rides during the week, before work… there’s a limit on how early I’m willing to wake up!

After two weeks, though, I do feel better. Combined with better eating habits — calorie counting, sticking to a daily calorie limit, eating somewhat cleaner — my body is feeling better. I’m down 5 pounds in that time.

I’ll start on 30-minute Advanced Beginner rides tomorrow. Stay tuned for more results!

PS: If you want to get in on the Peloton fun, you can use my referral code (JC6RDJ) to get $100 towards purchasing accessories from Peloton’s online store.



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