Know how to make an indoor cycling enthusiast jealous? Casually mention you got a Peloton bike. The Cadillac of home exercise equipment, Peloton's indoor bike may be the closest things to having a personalized indoor cycling class in the comfort of your own home.
Combining the company's state-of-the-art stationary bike with a built-in digital screen, the Peloton bike allows riders to live-stream daily classes from the Peloton NYC studio and access more than 5,000 on-demand workouts.
But the bike will also set you back more than $2,200, plus $39 for the monthly class subscription to access the digital content. So how can the average Joe or Jane get a good indoor cycling workout without breaking the bank? Here's how you can stop pining for a Peloton and get a DIY indoor cycling workout without it (until you win the lottery, that is).
1. Spend Less on a Similar Bike
Once you get past the brand appeal, you'll see that Peloton isn't the only bike company live-streaming classes right to your living room. Cheaper alternatives like the Echelon Smart Connect Bike cost just under $1,000 and are giving the cycle giant a run (er, ride) for its money.
The Echelon Smart Connect saves money in part because the bike includes a tablet holder instead of Peloton's Wi-Fi–enabled touchscreen to stream classes. Pair this bike with the optional Echelon Fit app, which offers different subscription options ranging from $20 to $30 per month, and you'll get a similar cycling experience for significantly less cash.
2. Pair the Peloton App With Any Indoor Cycling Bike
If you don't have two grand to drop on the Peloton bike, but you still want to jump on the brand bandwagon, you can still get a lot of the same Peloton content by pairing the Peloton Digital app with any indoor bike.
While you can download the app for free, it will cost you $19.49 a month after a free 14-day trial. The app gives you access to more than 15 live studio classes a day taught by elite Peloton instructors as well as more than 10,000 on-demand classes streamed right to your phone or tablet.
And it's more than just cycling. In addition to indoor cycling classes, the Peloton Digital app provides classes for indoor and outdoor running, strength training, yoga, boot camps and more.
3. Try Audio-Only Indoor Cycling Apps
Don't want to shell out $20 every month for the Peloton app? There are plenty of lower-cost alternatives that will still provide audio guided workouts for your cycling sessions.
"I cycle every day using apps and my $200 red [indoor cycling] bike," says indoor cycling enthusiast Rebecca Frigole from Naples, Florida. "My bike doesn't even have a cadence monitor, but that doesn't matter because these instructors use beat and tempo of their music."
Try Cycle Cast ($9.99/month) for indoor cycling workouts with great music or Aaptiv ($8.33/month) with unlimited access to more than 2,500 guided workouts, including indoor cycling, treadmill running, strength training, elliptical, yoga and more.
"I've thought about purchasing a Peloton, but I can get the same workout with these apps and willpower," says Frigole. "I've lost 28 pounds in the last two months!"
Read more: The 10 Best Stretches to Do Before Biking
4. Search Out Secondhand Indoor Cycling Bikes
If you're looking to create that at-home Peloton experience, consider shopping secondhand for your indoor cycling bike. Check out Craigslist or eBay for bikes that have been gathering dust in someone's garage, or see if your local gym or indoor cycling studio is getting rid of old bikes.
"Studios often sell off their old bikes when they upgrade," says Diane Laird, owner of indoor cycling studio DNA Fitness. Gyms may not advertise broadly when they're selling old bikes, so consider cold-calling larger chains or small indoor cycling studios to inquire.
Keep in mind, when you're getting a consumer bike from someone's home, it's often lighter and may have less wear, but was likely assembled by the owner. On the other hand, a commercial-grade bike from a gym or studio is usually heavier to move and may have more wear, but was probably assembled by a pro.
Many online fitness stores, such as Primo Fitness and Gym Store, also offer refurbished indoor cycling bikes that have been professionally tuned and often come with a warranty. Whenever possible, try to see a used bike in person before you buy to ensure it's up to par.
5. Substitute Circuits for Cycling
While an hourlong indoor cycling class may burn 400 to 600 calories, hopping on a stationary bike isn't the only way to torch this many calories, says Madalynne Carattini, a NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist at FitnessTrainer.com.
"The Peloton bike provides individuals with a wonderful endurance-based workout and probably provides anywhere from a 300- to 600-calorie burn, depending on the time and intensity of their ride," she says.
"But if you're looking to save some money and get in an efficient endurance-based workout, all you need is your body and some open space." Carattini recommends combining three to five exercises together to create a full-body circuit.
Try three to five rounds of this one:
- 10 squat
- 10 inchworms to push-ups
- 10 up-down planks
- 20 Bulgarian
split squats (10 on each leg)
- 10 side
shuffles (5 to each side)
- 2-minute rest
"Pairing [these] exercise movements together in a circuit-like fashion is more than enough to get in an efficient workout from home that will help you burn the same amount of calories as getting on that expensive Peloton for a ride," Carattini says. "Plus, you'll build some lean muscle mass by including more resistance training into your workout!"
6. Convert an Old Road Bike
Already own a road or mountain bike? Before dropping a big chunk of change on an indoor bike, consider converting your outdoor bike to a stationary cycle with a bike stand, rollers or cycling trainer, says Alex Tauberg, a sports chiropractor and certified strength and condition specialist in Pittsburgh.
"Take your road bike and put it on a set of rollers while watching any number of pro tour races," Tauberg says. "Not quite the same thing as using the Peloton, but if you use your imagination, you can get a great workout while riding along with the pros!"
You can also upgrade to a smart trainer like the Kinetic Road Machine Smart Control ($539) that lets you get an indoor cycling workout while connecting your bike to other devices like a training and tracking app on your watch, phone or tablet.
7. Track Your Progress (and PRs)
Workouts on a Peloton bike can help push you by tracking your caloric burn and heart rate and reminding you of your previous personal records (PRs). However, you can replicate some these same features with other cheaper alternatives, says Karisa Curtis, a personal trainer in Ventura, California.
"One of the most reliable tools I use is a simple heart-rate monitor with an accompanying tracking app that shows improvements in my fitness over time and keeps me dialed in to my training zones," she says. "Wearable fitness devices like the Moov Now, which measures cadence when worn on your ankle, or the Fitbit, which has indoor cycling capabilities on its app, are also excellent options if graphs and numbers are a favorite way of holding yourself accountable."
If climbing up the Peloton leaderboard keeps you pushing even when your legs want to give out, try biking apps like Strava, Zwift or Fitocracy that help you track your performance while competing against your own personal bests and other riders.