More than 4,000 indoor cyclists form the Peloton Pacific Northwest Facebook group, with members cheering each other on to good health and stress reduction during the pandemic. (Jennifer Bardsley)

More than 4,000 indoor cyclists form the Peloton Pacific Northwest Facebook group, with members cheering each other on to good health and stress reduction during the pandemic. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Seeking a cardio high in the middle of a pandemic

Becoming a Peloton bike member is like joining a cult — but it’s a great way to manage stress.

Forget cardiovascular health, bone density or blood sugar regulation — for me exercise is all about managing stress.

Since the pandemic hit, stress for me — like most people — has been intense. My local barre3 studio in Edmonds does live-stream classes over Zoom, which I love, but I wanted something extra for cardio.

In spring, I purchased an inexpensive, small, indoor trampoline so I could get my heart rate up without walking in the rain. We didn’t have a logical place to put the trampoline in our house, so it’s smack-dab in the dining room by the table and china cabinet.

It’s ruined the aesthetic of the downstairs, but has helped my kids get the wiggles out.

But then my birthday and Mother’s Day came around, and we ordered a Peloton bike. I agonized over this decision because it cost $2,245 plus a $39 monthly subscription fee. A cheaper option would be to use a less expensive indoor bike, and subscribe to the app for $12.99 a month per person. I went with the Peloton bike itself because I figured, 10 years from now, I wouldn’t look back and wish I had saved the money, but I would look back and wish I had done spin class every day for the past decade.

If you’ve never seen a Peloton bike before, picture a spin bike with a big screen attached to the front. Once you hook the bike up to Wi-Fi you can take spin classes on the bike, as well as strength, yoga, cardio, stretching outdoor and meditation classes off the bike.

Becoming a Peloton member is like joining a cult. There are Facebook groups to join galore, like Peloton Pacific Northwest, which has more than 4,000 members. I’m also part of the Official Peloton Mom Group and #BooCrew, the group devoted to Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby. Each group has their own hashtag, which becomes important on what they call the leaderboard.

The leaderboard shows all of the people taking a live or on-demand class at that very moment, as well as each person’s output level. My leaderboard name is #IBrakeForMoms. As soon as I sign onto a ride, I look for the hashtag #PNW to see who else in Snohomish County is riding with me, and give them all high fives. For me, the high fives are motivating, but some people think they are silly.

If you take a live ride and you’re really lucky, the instructor will shout out your leaderboard name in the middle of the class, usually for milestones like when you hit 100, 250 or even 1,000 rides. Reaching that first milestone of 100 rides is such a big deal that Peloton sends you a free shirt to celebrate.

In the past two months of owning our bike, I’ve done 152 workouts, including 62 rides. I haven’t lost any weight, but I’ve improved my cardiovascular endurance. Most importantly, I’ve managed my stress. It turns out that the path to calm can be a bike ride to nowhere, with a bunch of total strangers cheering you on.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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