It’s close to impossible to browse on Instagram or watch your favorite show, with audio description of course, without encountering a mention of Peloton. You may be wondering exactly what the big deal is with this latest fitness craze, and even more importantly, you’ve probably been just a little curious to see if the Peloton Bike, Bike Plus and Tread are accessible for the blind and visually impaired community. I’ve had my Peloton Bike Plus for about a month now, and I’d love to share with you my experience independently using the bike as an individual with significant vision loss. Read on to learn all about how the Peloton Bike Plus weathered the blindness storm.
What is Peloton?
Peloton is a fitness company launched in 2012. They focus on bringing high quality and immersive fitness classes with curated music paired with beautiful stationary bikes and treadmills. You may access the classes via a subscription based mobile app, or directly on a touch screen enabled Peloton Bike or Treadmill. For this article, I will focus on the Peloton Bike line as I have not personally accessed the Peloton Tread.
Peloton has 2 different bikes that you may choose from, The Bike and Bike +. The Peloton Bike is $1895.00 and the Bike + is $2495.00. While both bikes offer similar experiences, there are some significant differences between the two bikes including:
- The Bike + offers a larger touch screen, 24 inches versus 22 inches on the regular bike.
- The Bike + offers more speakers and a subwoofer, while the regular bike has rear speakers.
- The Bike + offers a feature to auto follow the cycling workouts (which auto adjusts the resistance) as well as Apple Watch Gym Kit integration, while the regular bike does not offer these features.
- The Bike + has a 360 degree rotating screen, while the regular bike has a stationary screen.
As mentioned earlier, in order to access the live and on-demand workouts, a monthly All Access subscription is required. This subscription will cost you $39.00 monthly and allow for you to have as many profiles as you wish for your household to access the same subscription. If you own a Peloton bike without the subscription, you can use the “Just Ride” feature on the bike to create your own workout. The All Access subscription not only includes live and on-demand cycling classes, but it also includes strength, yoga, running and walking classes to name a few.
Is The Peloton Bike Accessible for the Blind?
Unlike many other mainstream fitness machines, Peloton has accessibility as a top priority. Not only is the Peloton Bike accessible, but they also have a dedicated accessibility team to address any concerns and issues as they arise!
The touch screen on the Peloton Bike and Bike Plus is built on an Android tablet. As of June 2020, Talk Back was enabled on the touch screen. Talk Back allows for full independent navigation of the entire platform with the support of customizable Text to Speech! Additionally, the Peloton app for iOS (my mobile platform of choice) is also fully accessible!
Making the Purchase
When my husband and I went to our local Peloton showroom to purchase our bike, I was pleasantly surprised by the above and beyond customer service we received. I informed the salesperson that I am visually impaired and that I wanted to know about the accessibility and usability of the Peloton Bike. Not only was she well-versed in Talk Back and the accessibility of the bike, but she also had suggestions for making the large touch screen easier to navigate including using small bump dots on the screen! And yes, in case you’re wondering, yes she had the exact correct terminology down and didn’t even skip a beat!
Upon purchasing our bike and selecting our $100 in free accessories (Thanks Rachel!) we selected our delivery date, which was only a week out! When our delivery arrived the team was extremely professional and took time to answer all of our questions and connect the bike to our internet. They also went over the basic maintenance and made sure we knew which tools and equipment came with the bike. They even said if we had any questions that we could text or call them later that day!
Obviously I was elated to take my first ride, so I slipped on my brand new spin shoes and got to setting up the Talk Back. Unfortunately I had to have sighted assistance to initially turn on the Talk Back as by default there is not a shortcut key to turn it on and off with the tactile buttons on the touch screen. Once I had my husband enable the screen reader, however, I was able to navigate independently.
The navigation on a large 24 inch touch screen can be quite difficult when attempting to perform swipes, however it is definitely doable with patience. I would highly recommend enabling the accessibility shortcut in the Accessibility menu and adjusting the speech speed to your liking prior to hopping on the bike.
Once I got the accessibility settings perfect, I was ready to find my very first class! While I was at the showroom, the salesperson warned me to start out slowly and to not hop into a 45 minute ride immediately. I thought this was odd, but took her advice and boy am I glad I did! I started with a 20 minute low impact ride, thinking that low impact meant that it would be super chill, I was just a little bit off with this assessment!
Fair warning, I have never ridden a spin bike, and I am not a fitness person by any definition of the word, but this first class had me sweating, huffing and puffing after just the first 5 minutes! These rides are no joke and they really challenge you to push your limits! With that said, I still absolutely loved the class, the ride and the bike!
Now that I’ve had the Peloton Bike + for a month now, I’ve learned some tips and tricks for making the most out of the subscription and equipment.
Pre-Select Your Classes on the iOS App
I have found that the touch screen on the Peloton is a lot of real estate to navigate. To help me minimize the time i spend scrolling through the grid of classes, I first go on my iOS Peloton app and select the class I want to take. On the app there is a schedule button and I pick the time and date I want to take it, even if it is in 5 or 10 minutes. When I hop on my bike and log into my profile, after about 30 seconds the class I am scheduled for pops up and I just have to select start and get going!
Turn on Auto Follow
For on-demand cycling classes you can elect to turn on “Auto Follow”. This feature automatically adjusts the resistance during the class so you don’t have to worry about figuring out your resistance while trying to ride. Occasionally during a difficult class I find myself adjusting the resistance down a bit but typically I am still able to follow the resistance as intended.
It can be a little tricky to locate the Auto Follow toggle. It is about ⅔ down the screen towards the middle. I typically locate it by finding the resistance part of the screen and swiping to the left a few times. This toggle is only in on-demand classes and appears after the class intro.
Your Booty Will Hurt, But Not Forever
The most shocking thing about riding the Peloton, especially if you have not ridden a spin bike before, is the discomfort on your bottom when you start to ride. The Peloton seat is initially not the most comfortable seat in the world, and your booty will hurt for about the first week or so of rides. To minimize this make sure you have your bike adjusted to the recommended settings for your height and stick with it! Some also find comfort in padded bike shorts or a gel cover for the Peloton seat.
The Bottom Line
If you told me a year ago that I would be getting up at 5:30 AM almost every day to ride a stationary bike I would have never believed you! But for the past month, this has been my routine, believe it or not! There’s definitely something addictive, in a good way, about hopping on the bike with a motivating, and oftentimes hilarious, instructor for a quick 30 minute ride. I have absolutely no regrets about hopping on the Peloton bandwagon and would without a doubt recommend it to the blind and visually impaired community.
Unfortunately, the only downfall of the Peloton Bike and Bike + is the relatively high initial and potentially monthly cost. If you’re not already accustomed to paying a gym membership, or paying up front a minimum of $1895.00 for a piece of gym equipment, the cost of entry could be prohibitive. In these cases, I highly recommend checking around to see if there is an affordable gym that has Peloton equipment and chatting with staff to see if the accessibility features can be enabled. Additionally, Peloton does have the option for a monthly payment for the cost of the bike, which may be able to fit into your budget.
As I write this blog, I have completed 24 rides on the Bike + and I can’t wait for my next one! If you have any pro tips or questions about the Peloton Bike, drop them in the comments, and if you’d like to follow me on Peloton you can search for BlindyGirl! Happy spinning!