(Pocket-lint) - Through various lockdowns, working out at home became a much bigger thing. Peloton existed long before the pandemic, of course, pushing its own variety of "workout at home", but the Peloton Guide perhaps characterises a new generation of workouts without the gym.
The Peloton Guide is a camera you connect to your TV, allowing you to workout with Peloton's coaches, while the camera can keep track of what you do, so it's a little more interactive than just following along to a video.
Peloton starts from a strong position of having a brand and range of trainers and workouts that people are familiar with. It's also a great experience: it's easy to use, there's plenty of choice and it works, with the camera allowing for some sense that you're actually doing what you're supposed to be doing.
The cost is more or less equivalent to a gym subscription, the advantage here is that you don’t have to leave home and you can enjoy the privacy of workout out at home no matter how confident you are. The downside, of course, is that you have to provide your own equipment and you don't get that one-to-one instruction you might get at a gym.
There are a range of home workout subscriptions now available from the likes of Apple Fitness+ or FIIT and Peloton Guide does sit at the top end of those options in terms of cost. But it also offers more from the experience - there's a greater sense that you're part of something and getting some sort of feedback, rather than being left to workout in isolation in your own front room.
- Plenty of motivation
- Lots of workout choices
- Breakdown of muscles you've worked
- Great for the time poor
- Great for those intimidated by the gym
- Voice control
- It costs as much as going to the gym
- No real long-term plans
Let's start with the camera
- 166 x 64 x 42mm, 510g
- 12MP, 4K, 30fps
- 2 mics
First and foremost, you have the hardware. This is a 4K wide-angle camera that you connect to your TV via HDMI.
It's a great looking piece of hardware, with a sliding cover over the lens in case you want to cover the camera to ensure your privacy, as well as a physical mute switch on the rear of the unit.
It's wrapped in a fabric finish, so it looks like a premium device and won't ruin the aesthetic of your lounge or gym.
The wide-angle lens can shift to focus on you, much like Apple's Center Stage, so that you stay in the image that you see on the screen as you change positions. From what we've experienced, it's as happy when you're doing floor exercises as when you're up on your feet.
The camera has an LED on the front to show when it's active and there's also two microphones on the top, hidden under the fabric to enable voice control.
The camera is the thing that makes Peloton Guide different to other systems, as it allows Peloton to keep track of what you're doing, means you can watch your form alongside the trainer, as well as get rewarded for performing the exercises correctly - more on that in the minute.
Then there's the remote
- 6 button
- Bluetooth 5.0
- IR transmitter
The camera comes with a remote. This is a simple remote, a little like the Chromecast with Google TV remote and it's mostly for navigating the user interface.
The UI is pretty simple. It's mostly a grid with some menu options, so you can easily find the type of workout you want. It's literally as easy as choosing something on Netflix, while also suffering the same problem - there are so many choices, you might not know where to start.
The system also supports voice. This is so that you can do things like pause the workout, go back or skip forward, without needing to grab the remote. It's a useful addition when you might be in pose on the floor or gripping dumbbells when the doorbell rings.
The voice control is also trained to the user. This means that if someone else walks into the room, they can't start messing with your workout. Like other system such as Alexa, training your Peloton voice profile is just a case of reading out a few lines of text.
Selecting your Peloton Guide workout
Workouts are divided into logical types, that might be full body, core, body weight, legs, chest and back and so on. Once you've selected the workout you want, it quickly loads up with your trainer so you can get started. You can also filter by muscle groups, or select the muscles you want to work and have those workouts shown to you.
The trainer will welcome you to the session, tell you what you need and walk you through the workout plan. There's a short warmup and cooldown on these workouts, although there are longer dedicated sessions for warming up, cooling down and stretching if you prefer.
There are also demos at the beginning to show the exercises you will complete, so you can check you have the technique. This is one area that voice control comes in handy, as you can skip this if you're coming back to a workout you've performed before.
The left-hand side of the screen tracks where you are in the workout with the schedule at the top and your metrics further down, showing your heart rate and Movement Score, which we'll get onto in a moment.
You can change the view, making your own camera image smaller or larger, side by side or stacked with the trainer video. You can also be right in the centre of the screen in Self Mode. This means that for those who want to closely check their technique they can so with a larger preview of themselves.
You will need some basic equipment - a floor mat and some dumbbells of varying weights - although there are also plenty of bodyweight exercises.
Let's go Peloton!
Peloton Guide features trainers that will be familiar to existing Peloton users, so you can dive into your favourites and get to work. Workouts are delivered with the enthusiasm you'll have come to expect from Peloton, support by music - and there's even a track listing so you know what you're listening to.
The music certainly helps, compared to some video-based workouts which only have the trainer chatting and nothing else. Of course, there's plenty of chat from the trainer too, which helps motivation and gives the sense that you're part of something. Of course you don't get the personal attention that you would of a gym class where an instructor can walk over and correct your posture and that's always going to be the downside of workouts at home.
To try and address this, Peloton Guide has its Movement Score system. This uses the camera to detect the movements you make and match those to the workout you're doing. So if you're supposed to be doing weighted squats and you perform those squats, you'll get a full Movement Score.
The logo illuminates as you work through a set of exercises, so also provides some sort of guide to the number of reps you should be doing. It also means that if you're on your third set and you can't complete them because you're too tired - that's also reflected.
The Movement Score system is smart enough to detect if you perform the wrong exercise. If you start doing dumbbell curls instead of squats, you don't chock up anything on the Movement Score; if you do nothing at all, again, there's no Movement Score, so it's another motivational tool, as well as being a clever bit of AI motion tracking.
The Peloton Guide also supports Bluetooth heart rate sensors, the company's own, as well as third-party, and this allows heart rate to be displayed on the screen as you're working out. It also allows Peloton Guide to estimate your calorie burn, while giving you a sense of what heart rate zone you're in.
That's slightly less important to strength work than it is to cardio, but it's always a good metric to be monitoring.
Once you've completed your workout, you'll get a summary and your important score, with medals and badges also awarded as you progress.
Tying it all together
The workouts that Peloton Guide come in various lengths and as we said, they target different areas of the body. This means you're free to work on particular areas and build your own fitness routine in the longer term.
However, Peloton Guide also keeps tracks of the muscle groups you've been working on. When you choose a workout you can see which muscle groups you'll be targeting. Often that's in the description of the workout, but you can always click through to confirm.
As you complete different workouts, Peloton Guide will be able to show you what you've worked on that week with its body diagram. This highlights the different muscle areas. It will also recommend workouts to you, aiming to provide some balance, so if you're always doing legs, it might elevate core or upper body work to ensure you get a whole-body workout.
The choice, however, is yours, so if you're a runner looking for core and leg strength, you're free to do just that. There are some longer programmes you can choose such as Bootcamp or Split which gives you a more structured set of workouts across a week or month, but there's nothing that really guides you longer term, you still have to make a lot of the decisions as you go along.
If you're scheduling in those sorts of programmes, that will of course sync to the Peloton smartphone app, so you can get a reminder of what you're supposed to be doing that day.
Putting the cost into perspective
The Peloton Guide is Peloton's cheapest piece of hardware with that initial outlay of £275 or $279. Then there's an ongoing subscription, initially £24/$24 in 2022, but it will increase to £39/$39 in 2023.
That's the same subscription price as the All-Access Membership for Peloton Tread or Bike. If you already have that All-Access Membership (perhaps because you own a bike), then you're covered already and you don't need a new subscription.
So, for existing Peloton users, it might just be a case of buying that hardware and opening up access to a slightly more advanced system of Peloton strength workouts.
Of course, Peloton already offers strength training, alongside the Bike or Tread through things like Bootcamp, as well as through the Peloton Digital App. The app is only £12.99/$12.99, so you can immediately see there's an increased cost associated with the more advanced system.
As we tested the Peloton Guide in isolation, we don't know if or how it might interface with workouts you might be doing elsewhere, such as on Peloton Bike.
Peloton Guide takes home workouts to a new level, giving a greater sense that you're part of something, rather than just watching along. There's a cost that comes with this system, but with the camera tracking your motion, it can more accurately guide you through workouts and on your fitness journey.