20 min read

When the pandemic hit, Peloton skyrocketed in sales and popularity. It’s not nearly as new as Apple Fitness+

One huge difference between the two. Peloton is a workout system, Apple is a fitness service.

I was there when Peloton instructors with barely an Instagram following suddenly became overnight influencers. Peloton offered three months of their app for free, at the beginning of the pandemic, which was a brilliant marketing move.

You see, they didn’t have a huge cost to give away a three-month trial, with it they had great public relations and plenty of word-of-mouth recommendations because, at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was hustling to replace their gym memberships and even those who did not have a gym membership wanted to stay healthy while at home. Especially people in limited space like apartments who could not easily go for a walk in a city, this was a great move for the company.

Three months was brilliant, as it is also the timeframe to create a new habit contrary to the popular belief that thirty days is the magic number. In fact,  to be technical, between 72-90 days is the sweet stop for forming a habit, so to truly stick to the conversation of fitness, since this is the topic we will be discussing today, you need to try something for a least a bit over two months.

It is important to get moving to manage pandemic and life stress, keep weight down and keep your blood pressure down as well – here’s an article I wrote recently on women and blood pressure.

Anyway, it’s important to try something for two months minimum to see if you will stick with it.

And I did.

With both Apple and Peloton.

This won’t be a disrespect of either one of them

Before I tell you who my winner was and how I made the decision, let’s talk wellness and fitness. Let me also state that I love them both, but for different reasons, and I ultimately went with the one that resonated with me most, and that I felt provided more value as far as an app goes. This is personal and my review, regardless of my choice, might help you to decide on “the other” choice.

 

When Fitness Companies Fail Us

If you’re like me, you were probably promised a lot of things by the fitness industry. You were told that if you just bought this piece of equipment, or followed this program, you would be fit and fabulous. I used to work in the industry; I owned a yoga studio for over a decade, and I was a personal trainer long before that. I held certification training through the Yoga Alliance and I still teach continuing education there.

I have seen various celebrity training programs offer miracle outcomes.

I know that it takes a commitment and that you can get fit with just your body weight and no equipment at all, but I also know that having an app is a great idea for motivation and guidance, but there’s more, and I will tell you about that now.

What happens when you don’t achieve those promised results? You might feel like a failure, but don’t worry – you’re not alone. In this article, we’re going to be talking about the difference between Peloton and Apple fitness trackers. Non-spoiler alert: I fell in love with one and haven’t looked back.

Keep reading to find out why

Apps, Treadmills, and Biking

There’s a new fitness craze going around, and while it may seem like just another passing trend, there’s actually some science behind it. Peloton bikes are becoming all the rage, with people of all ages and abilities hopping on for an intense workout. But if you’re not sure whether or not this type of exercise is for you, don’t worry – I’m here to break down the pros and cons of Peloton vs Apple Fitness+  so you can make the best decision for your health. Keep reading to learn more!

 

This review will incorporate the apps only, as I knew from the get-go that I wasn’t getting the peloton bike. I tried it out, but I’m aware of what those price range stationary bikes feel like, and I wasn’t impressed, barring the screen which was admittedly a nice feature. I also knew that there was a Peloton app, and so, the app was my focus.

 

First of all, the bike

I need to bring it up. While the bike is good, it’s not a stand-out bike compared to some top-of-the-line models.

What makes it special is that you are using the same one that the instructor is, and it has a built-in screen.

The feedback I’ve had from most people with a Peloton bike is that they were not really cycling before the program or if they were, it was Soul Cycle.  Meaning, traditionally these were not people who were already researching stationary bikes. They were researching ways to get fit, and they got sold on the bike.

That’s fair. It provided a solution to their problem.

For me personally, I have used more well-made stationary bikes at gyms and friends’ homes but wanted something economical that did the job for my workout room.

I invested more in my Horizon treadmill, my Cellercize rebounder, and my rower. I also have a yoga room with an infrared sauna. The reason I bring this up, is I just want to instill that I do invest in my exercise wellness, I’m not just about deals, but I am about value and quality.

I researched and found the Xterra Fitness Exercise Bike.

With 4.8 stars and almost 16,000 reviews, it was perfect at a whopping $129 and free shipping if you have prime.

Yes, you heard that right, $129!

It was the #1 rated folding stationary bike by Men’s Health Magazine.

It’s no slouch. It rides smooth, has an adjustable seat, doesn’t take up a ton of space.

I admit, when I did receive it and put it together (I did not pay for the assembly because it was during the pandemic) I felt like I made a mistake as it looked so light. I wasn’t sure it was going to be sturdy enough or have quality, but I was hopeful.

It has wheels but even without the wheels, I’d be able to push it around pretty easily. So yes, it was very light.

I was worried that it was flimsy looking but – it has been a powerhouse.

I loved it so much I bought one for my daughter.

I was able to easily enjoy my Peloton cycle workouts as well as Apple Fitness+ cycle workouts.

More about the Xterra Fitness Exercise Bike|A Safe Bike

It is quite safe, unlike the Peloton bike, there have been no recalls or injuries that I know of. For instance, in October of 2020, Peloton had to recall 27,000 bikes after reported leg injuries and bike breaks. In May of 2021, there was a Peloton treadmill recall after injuries and one death.  This was all over the news, yet in my research, I did not find one recall or injury claiming to be from the Xterra Fitness Exercise Bike.

 

Again, most people I spoke to just wanted an enjoyable workout, and the Peloton bike itself was promoted more than the app in my experience, and it was solving a problem. Cycling fits most body types, you can have a troublesome back or knees and still bike.

The Marketing of Peloton

The marketing for the Peloton bike was also, so sexy, sort of like showing a fit woman gently perspiring away looking out of her penthouse apartment, with the bike right in the living room next to a grand piano. while her lumbersexual husband is reading architectural digest while looking like a runway model. The marketing was so over the top unintentionally, that there were many memes about it. But that made it all the more enticing to look at.

The marketing was brilliant on that end, because not only did it position itself as luxury yet affordable with their payment plans, but it was what the beautiful people did. Peloton users did not get offended, they laughed, because that marketing positioned them as beautiful people, too.

The popularity soared because the instructors were like your cool best friends, screaming over the music at a club, yelling affirmations and life stories at you.

Now, Apple Fitness+ has not spent that type of energy or money on advertising or creating an image; the image from Apple Fitness+ seems to just glide right with Apple, in that it feels high tech, sleek and very professional. As with all Apple products, it seamlessly integrates with your Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. It has that “out of the box” sleekness. you expect with Apple.

The Feel of Peloton’s App

The Peloton app itself has tags and groups where you can feel like you are part of a club, a movement. They add a lot of social justice tie-ins to their marketing which brings a sense of community. I have belonged to three groups for over six months and not once did that feel as it mattered. It just feels like a useless hashtag under my name. I would love to see more hashtag group interaction from the app, or somewhere or just get rid of the groups altogether.

That being said, the app itself doesn’t offer a much-personalized feel; you really are just seeing a video and nothing about your fitness level is on the app (or at least it wasn’t last year when I was on the app). I know they work hard to get that interaction but you’d really need the bike (or treadmill) and the live classes together, to get a benefit, in my opinion. Again, this is about the app by itself.

I Felt Aged Out

For me, as an over-50 female, I noticed that most of the instructors were either very young or working very hard to appeal to a much younger audience, which is not a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, on the app you see the people in the class with you with their user name, usually their age if they choose to share and usually their city. I would say most of the classmates I observed were in their 30’s, some 40’s, less 50’s.

In defense, it is possible that this is the demographic for people who are working out-but I felt that the marketing was to lure a younger crowd.

I found myself feeling a bit eye-rolly when I would see and hear a younger, single, no children instructor,  coming off very life-coach-ish, when I really just wanted to get my work out in and hear about physical wellness. I would say that this was more with the biking than anything else. The rest of the classes felt more fitness-focused and the cycling felt a combination of fitness and party, which I think can be motivating.

I totally get that the new trend is glow lights, and it seems almost every app I tested (I tested Obe’ and others) had that “nightclub” vibe. I hated that. It’s dark depressing and I want to feel invigorated.  It’s not a big deal at all and I think a younger audience or those who are not fun-suckers like me, probably love that vibe.

I loved that the instructors in Peloton, even the life-coach-ish ones, were positive. I didn’t love some that dropped the F-bomb a lot, and that I had to filter the explicit classes because I thought I was paying for all of the classes and my filters would be simply based on workouts, not on appropriateness. It does feel like a party, which is great unless you are an INTJ like me, in which case parties, real or virtual, are the last thing I’m looking for.

Pricing

The price per month was nominal, at just $12.99 for the app, and I did pay for a couple of months after the free three-month trial because I kept looking and trying others out and I did feel more motivated with Peloton; until Apple Fitness+.

Ya’ll.

If you have an Apple watch, they offer a one-month trial of Apple Fitness+

Here is what I liked.

As a financial therapist, I was keen on a few things – number one, the price.

At $9.99 it is a deal and you don’t feel left out.

The app for Peloton is good, don’t get me wrong, but you might feel left out if you don’t opt for the bike, you don’t get to see where you rank, you don’t get any real stats.

You get a list of names that are supposed to be taking the class with you, which you can’t interact with other than a “high five” to which on the app feels very pointless as they are not in real-time, there- which is to me, pointless. In the App, you have no idea if you are doing well or not compared to others so it’s a little disconnected for me.

On the Apple Fitness+ App, you don’t get that either but you do get a “burn bar” which tells you where you rank compared to others who took the class, so you know if you are lagging behind, in the middle, or leading the pack. I feel connected to others who are not there as I know while I am focusing on training myself and I am my own competitor, the competitive side of me is able to try to get to the head of the burn bar.

You also, on Apple Fitness+, see your stats right on the screen, in real-time, as long as you are wearing your watch, and you can really train and challenge yourself and see your progress day to day, month to month, not just the classes you’ve taken or your attendance. That is also quite unique as far as the difference between the apps.

Age is Not Just a Number

In the Apple Fitness+ App, there are instructors of all ages and they are extremely knowledgeable. Instead of the music being crazy loud and them having to scream over it with their voices being drowned by the music, as it feels often on the Peloton App, I can hear the music but they are front and center; so I get all of the benefits of their physical fitness savvy and reminders of posture, they explain what is happening coming up and keep you engaged the entire time. There’s a flow, with positivity but I don’t feel like anyone is trying to be my life coach or assume I need a pep talk. They know why I’m there.

When I’m on the Peloton App, I feel like I’m with cool fitness instructors, with the Apple Fitness+ App, I feel like I’m with fitness experts, who may or may not have the cool factor.

 

The studio differences

I brought up the glow lighting before – it’s the light strips that my son used to use when he was a teen in his room to make his gaming system look edgier. I’ve seen this on almost every fitness app I tested since 2020. However, the Apple Fitness+ app is well lit, has no club lighting, and has a nice fitness ring art on the wall (if you know you know) which is subtle and tasteful. Some classes have a vibe of being near a plant-filled window or mural, and that is incredibly relaxing for those classes.

Interaction differences

One aspect I need to mention; if you know someone with an Apple Watch, you can invite them to workouts and share the workouts as well. It is a way to actually interact with people you know and really quite enjoyable.  So while you might not meet random strangers you get to work out with your already in the place friend group, if they are Apple people 🙂

More about cost.

If you pay per month, it works about to this-

Peloton $155

Apple, $119

Apple & Peloton give a free month trial but if you buy an Apple Watch you get THREE months free of Apple Fitness+

Note that Apple Watches begin at $199 for the series 3, and 279 for the Apple SE

Both usually offer trials, so check them out.

Note that the Peloton bike is about $1800 and the treadmill begins at 2400 up to close to 3k. So if you wanted both to get the full experience beyond the app, you are looking at no less than $4000 and that’s not even with the app.

Comparing, most treadmills you find at sports stores are going to begin closer to $600 and then the average is $1000. Most stationary bikes begin at $400 and the average is $900.

The Peloton app feels like it caters to the equipment and the equipment is at a much higher price point as it comes with a screen, so the screen technology, not the equipment feels like it must be driving the price up- if that makes sense?

The Cost of Apple Fitness+ with a new bike and new treadmill

In Apple Fitness+ it is more about the app experience as there are no upsells right now at least, for equipment. You can price shop and get what fits your budget and needs, without worry that you’ll feel left out on the app.

For example, as stated, my bike cost $129 and my treadmill, $700 … so for the price of my stationary bike, treadmill and app with Apple Fitness+ it is still less than one Peloton bike, even when it is on sale. 

Note that if I had to start from scratch, and did not have any equipment nor a watch, I could spend a total of about $1300 and get EVERYTHING and the Peloton bike is still more expensive. 

Not say that’s bad, just looking at cost efficiency for those who are interested. 

And the winner is

Both. All things considered, I like both but for me, Apple Fitness+ is my go-to.

It just makes logical and fiscal sense to me.

  • I love all things Apple because they’ve perfected the technology for years, and I have my podcast on Apple as well as other podcast hosts- so I feel a connection to Apple is being a leader in technology- and the output on my app screen confirms that.
  • Both Peloton and Apple Fitness+ have a variety of classes, styles, and instructors. If you want a cool night vibe, go with Peloton. If you want to feel like you are in a more luxury fitness center, go with Apple Fitness+
  • If you want workouts, go with the Peloton. If you want training, go with Apple Fitness+
  • If you want attendance tracking, go with Peloton. If you want attendance tracking, fitness level tracking and to monitor your overall wellness, go with Apple Fitness+
  • If you want to watch one instructor per class go with Peloton. If you want to usually see three people per most classes; one instructor, one doing challenging movements one adapting, then go with Apple Fitness+
  • If you feel the diversity of instructors including age diversity,  is meaningful and motivating, go to Apple Fitness+
  • If you do not have an Apple Watch, go to Peloton, which works from any phone. If you want an Apple Watch, again, it begins at $279 for the base, which comes to about $16 a month if you finance it, for 24 months.
  • If you want to buy new equipment and get the bike and treadmill if you think you’ll do both or one or the other – go with Peloton if the screen on the bike and on the treadmill matters.

 

As a financial therapist, I also must state this. 

You can walk/run anywhere.

If you want a treadmill you don’t have to purchase new, you can get one pretty cheap or usually free, on Facebook Marketplace. Especially if you are not a marathon runner, you probably don’t need a top-of-the-line fancy treadmill. You certainly do not need a fancy bike if you just need to peddle to get in shape.

Intuitive Comparison

The peloton app seems to be geared toward their bike and treadmill because they are specific about numbers and where to begin; where the Apple Fitness+ is geared toward you. 

For instance, on Peloton, you will hear “move your bike tension to 4, speed 60” OK that means nothing if my bike is peddling in actual mph and my tension is 6 is their 4?  You literally need their bike to do the app with confidence that you are at the level you should be in the class- You pretty much wing it otherwise.

With Apple Fitness, it is like I said, intuitive. They give instructions based on your heart rate, how you feel, and what the road should feel like. They do not emphasize a certain equipment number but rather like a fitness coach would be next to you, base your challenges and progress on your individual output. I love this part the most out of any feature.

This is great as you can adapt easily and add percentages and they discuss breathing, etc. They also discuss heart rate, which you can see clearly on your app AND on your watch. 

With both, they have options that are not equipment-based (dancing, yoga, etc) but equipment or not, you won’t lose the fitness trainer feel on any of it, with Apple Fitness+

If you want to choose your own bike and treadmill, or neither -or one or the other, go with Apple Fitness+

Variety

I feel like Apple Fitness+ has more variety, but I no longer have Peloton so I can’t speak to this, but I don’t recall Peloton having rowing and that is something that I know Apple Fitness+ has.

I feel like the instructors are great on both. 

Example.

When you do the Apple Fitness+ treadmill work out you are given a choice if you are going to run more or walk more, and it adapts to your needs in your burn bar. Also, you get verbal and visual instruction for both. 

On Peloton, you have to manage it all yourself, which isn’t a huge deal but I like the feeling of my workout being more customized and thus, easier to assess.

COOL DOWNS

Yes, this is in caps. This is so important.

On Peloton at the end, they’d say often “Go choose a cooldown now” and I quickly tried to find something, whereas on Apple Fitness+ at the end I can end, share, or “Mindful Cooldown” -three options .. so I click one button and the cooldowns are there. It’s effortless and one major part of proper fitness and avoiding injury is a proper cool down and stretch.

On Peloton, though they offer these, I probably did them three times maybe. It was a hassle for me. It might not be for you.

With Apple Fitness+, it’s effortless and I do it every time.

Remember this is just about the apps.

I do not have affiliate links to either of them, as I wanted to have a completely unbiased review, without a hint of my benefiting financially from one or the other- but I did link to that bike – regardless of which app you use or even if you don’t use an app at all- you’ve got to look at it! I mean less than $130 plus free shipping!!!!

If these are not to your liking or in your price range, YouTube has quite a few channels that you might like, free of charge. I’ll write more about those another time.

Again, both of these apps are good and will help you get off the couch.

It really depends on what you are looking for.

Happy App-ing! I hope this has helped.

Part of financial therapy is knowing your worth and exercising (no pun intended) self-care, which includes exploring opportunities that surround you, like Peloton and Apple Fitness+

 

 

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