Have someone on your list who wants to get in better shape? Or stay in shape? Or just change up their workout routine? The Peloton Guide is where to start.
When I covered the launch of the Peloton Guide last year, I was skeptical. After all, the hardware seemed somewhat underwhelming for a company who made their reputation with big, stylish pieces of fitness equipment.
Then Peloton reached out and asked me to give the Guide a try, just for three months, and see if incorporating the Guide into my fitness routine could change my mind.
Spoiler alert: it totally did.
So how’d Peloton turn me from a skeptic to a believer and why should it be on your gift list? Read on.
Wait, What Is It?
But first a quick recap. The Peloton Guide is a pill-shaped tabletop camera that lets you access live and recorded strength, stretching, meditation, and yoga classes in the Peloton library. You don’t need to install anything on your wall or clear out floor space. The entirety of the hardware fits in the space under your TV. The camera monitors your movements and streams live video of you working out to display side-by-side with the ongoing class.
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It comes with a remote control so that you can navigate the app and control playback or you can operate it via voice. The only other equipment included with the Guide is the Peloton Heart Rate Band, an armband heart rate monitor (you can also use your Apple Watch with the Peloton app installed, I find that easier than keeping the HRM charged).
It’s Easy to Use
Plug the Peloton Guide into your TV via the included HDMI cable, sign in to your account and you have access to the prodigious Peloton Strength library, with thousands of classes led by world-class instructors. As much as the Guide is a neat tool, it’s the trainers that keep me coming back again and again. They’re funny, engaging, inspiring, and generally exactly the kind of positive, go-getters you wish you could work out with in person.
If you’ve done any strength workouts recently with Peloton, you’ll be presented with the Body Tracker, an anatomic model showing what muscles you’ve worked sufficiently and which you need to focus on. The Guide then recommends your next classes based on your body history.
Suggestions can be a bit hit or miss. I run outside using other apps than Peloton (Apple Fitness+ guided runs are my current catnip) so Peloton doesn’t track that activity. Yet the Guide never seems to recommend anything other than upper body work (which is what I always do on the Guide). That said, if you do all your strength work with the Guide, the body tracker recommendations will often be on point.
Once you head over to the Strength category, you’ll see a host of classes made specifically for the Guide. These sessions have movement and rep trackers enabled. The best of which, I’ve found, are the daily Roll Call classes. These focus on a specific body zone each day and keep you on track to turn your whole Body Tracker blue by the end of the week.
And while you can easily access the entire Strength (and stretching, meditation, and yoga) library, you’ll want to take movement tracker classes. Why?
Everyone cheats when doing fitness classes on their phone or connected device. It’s true. Find me someone who says they do every single rep every time and I’ll call them a liar. The Guide’s movement tracker forces you to be a bit more honest…at least with yourself.
As you progress through timed sets, the movement tracker keeps an eye on whether or not you stay moving the whole time in the way it expects you to move (so, no, you can’t just hop for 30 seconds and get credit). If you’re in a class that has a specific number of reps, the tracker logs those as well (and if you’ve entered what weights you’re using, it’ll add up the totals at the end).
It’s highly motivating. Sure, I could drop my plank a few seconds early, but then I wouldn’t get credit. The tracker does occasionally miss movements or the instructor will be out of synch with the tracker intervals so you won’t get full credit, but I’ve found it’s more of an issue of environment (low lighting) or user error (poor camera/mat placement) than the tracker itself.
There’s also an auto-enabled Self Mode that shows live video of you working out (no one else can see it, don’t worry). So you can keep an eye on your form. However, what the movement tracker won’t tell you is if you’re doing the exercises correctly. Peloton’s instructors do a very good job of coaching you through proper form (as well as what bad form looks like) but I’d love it if the platform itself let me know if I was not just completing reps, but completing reps properly.
Maybe we’ll see that in the future. Peloton’s already upgraded the features in the few months that I’ve had the Guide, making the trackers more reliable and easier to follow on screen.
It Makes It Easy To Workout
Pull out your mat and some weights, activate the Guide with the remote (it has voice activation, but it’s very limited), choose a class, and get going. Especially if you do all your working out in the Peloton ecosystem, you’ll have solid suggestions and can jump into a workout in less than a minute.
Anyone who’s stood at a tread or sat at a bike, poking listlessly through rows of classes can tell you, quick activation is often the key to actually getting the workout done.
Because of its ease of use, plethora of content, and in-class motivation, the Guide has quickly become my preferred way to take Peloton strength classes. I could stream from my phone or use my Tread but the Guide brings another level of personal accountability to the table. Which means I end up with a better workout.
Peloton does require a $24-per-month membership fee to access their library of strength classes. However, at about half the price of a full membership, it’s an extremely good deal. All you’re missing out on is running, bike, and rowing classes.
You can get Peloton Guide packages for $200 off right now until Christmas Day (12/25). I’d highly recommend the $345 “Strength Starter” package. You’ll get the $295 Guide and, for $50 more, three sets of weights and a workout mat (which I love! It’s rubbery, non-slip, and has just the right amount of cushion…plus it looks like the one your instructors are using). There’s also a $595 set that gives you all 6 sets of weights (from 5 lbs. to 30 lbs.).
So give the gift of getting a jump on your New Year’s resolutions. Today’s the last day to get it shipped by Christmas!