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The world’s hottest fitness trend arrives in Oxford

Have you tried Peloton yet? New York’s favourite fitness activity has landed in our ‘hood. But is it a glorified spin class or the future of exercise? Let’s ride it out.

You perch atop a £2000 internet-enabled exercise bike in your living room and take a breathtaking (in both senses) ride, alongside people all over the world, competing to reach the top of the leaderboard. You’re encouraged all the way by an instructor, who, if they’re one of an elite band of New York teachers, are bonafide fitness rockstars with their own security guards to deal with the relentless selfie requests when they meet their fans in real life. Welcome to the world of Peloton!

It launched in the US in 2012, arrived in London 18 months ago and now a showroom, with a private ride rooms and shower facilities, has opened in Westgate Oxford, where you can try before you buy (thank goodness as those bikes don’t come cheap).

Leanne Hainsby Peloton instructor

 Converts are utterly evangelical – are they onto something or is it just a bells-and-whistles spin class? We spoke to Peloton instructor Leanne Hainsby (pictured), aka the world’s perkiest woman, to find out what all the fuss was about.


So, why exactly are people obsessed with Peloton? Is it a cult?  

Peloton Westgate Oxford store

It’s not a cult, it’s a community! People love it so much because you’re taking world-class instructors and fitness, and you’re bringing it into the comfort of your own home. Whatever stage you’re at in your fitness journey, Peloton can be for you. There’s beginner classes, which starts with 20-minute low impact rides, which means you’re sitting down in the saddle and we don’t take the resistance up too much. Then there are music rides, which means that whatever you’re into – 80s, disco, hip hop – you can work out to that. Then you’ve got power zone training, advanced HIIT rides, climb rides, interval rides. It’s that flexibility that people love.  


OK, so all the positivity and high-fives are clearly popular in America, but do the Brits really have it in them to enjoy this stuff?  

We actually have such a lovely, growing community here, with around two million members around the world. Even though the Brits may be slightly more reserved than the US members I teach, people do come out of their shells.  


Isn’t it lazier to do it in your own house, rather than getting out to the gym or doing a real bike ride? Doesn’t the screen make it feel a bit anti-social?  

Peloton home workout - women on spinning bike

Nobody’s saying, “Don’t go out, don’t go and meet up with friends and do a class together.” Here in the UK, there are actually some really social Peloton groups – we have a great group called UK Peloton Ladies, and they do loads of events. They decide when to jump into a class together, they’re all on the leaderboard at once, it’s a real community. Even though you’re by yourself and you’ve got your headphones on, there are very few people I’ve spoken to who’ve said that Peloton makes them feel alone. If anything it makes them feel more connected.  


You mentioned the leaderboard – it’s designed so that users can see how they’re performing compared to other riders, but what if you’re feeling really self-conscious about your fitness levels? 

You can get rid of the leaderboard altogether if you want! You don’t have to see it at all. I bought a bike for my mum and dad last Christmas, and my mum filters the leaderboard so she can just ride with other women in their 50s. That’s what’s encouraging for her. So you can filter it so it works for you, or just get rid of it.


In the US, Peloton instructors are proper celebrities, even down to the entourage. Do you have an entourage?  

Peloton Westgate Oxford store

Definitely not! Everything is MUCH bigger in the US – there’s a lot more members, the studios have a lot more bikes, so it doesn’t surprise me that the instructors are so popular there. The thing is, the connection we have with our members, being able to speak to them and hear their stories, gives you this very humble appreciation of the whole thing. They appreciate the hard work the instructors put in, and we appreciate them being there and taking the ride. But no, definitely no entourage!  


What if our readers wanted to dip in a toe but they’re intimidated by the price? It’s a spendy bit of equipment.  

Some people may think that the bike is expensive, but your health should be an investment. But I can see why people would be nervous. If you want to try it, you can book in a complimentary ride at one of our stores – they have private rooms with changing rooms and showers, and nobody has to be there watching you. Everyone that works in the Westgate store is so lovely, and they make you feel like they’re your cheerleaders. Give it a go!

For more info on Peloton at Westgate see here


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