Peloton vs Gym – Which one is better? (Based on your goals)


Home workouts are becoming a commodity as more and more people move away from the gym and start to exercise at home using peloton, or similar home fitness equipment. However, can a peloton replace the gym?

As a whole, the peloton bike can replace the gym because it offers both cardio and strength training classes. However, people who have more advanced goals like bodybuilding, powerlifting, or sports performance need more variety and resistance than the peloton can offer.

In this article, I will compare all the pros and cons between the peloton and gym, and help you decide which one is worth your time.

What’s The Difference Between the Peloton and Gym?

Overall, the difference between the peloton and gym is that the gym allows you to work on dozens of different strength machines that help you to isolate the muscle. You can also add more resistance which allows you to fatigue muscles more easily.

On the other hand, the peloton is a spin bike that apart from cycling also has a selection of non-bike sessions like yoga, pilates, boot camp, or even meditation. Those live and on-demand workouts mimic group studio classes.

Is gym more effective than the peloton? As a whole, the gym is more effective than the peloton for people who are more advanced and are looking for more performance-oriented goals. The peloton is better for people who just need to be active, without any performance goals in mind.

What are the pros and cons of going to gym? As a whole, the pros of going to the gym include access to more resistance, more variety, and access to personal training, if needed. The cons of gym workouts are commuting, complexity in using some of the machines, and limited access to equipment during the rush hours.

What are the pros and cons of a peloton bike? Overall, the pros of peloton bike are convenience, online community, and class selection that is suited for beginners, as well as advanced people. The cons of the Peloton bike are the high upfront cost and lack of heavyweights, which makes it less effective for muscle building.

Can Peloton Replace The Gym?

In 2020 I was stuck at home, which forced me to use what I can to stay active. Getting a peloton was a game-changer because not only I could train consistently, but also I was independent of the gym timetable.

This means more freedom, better results, and the opportunity to try new classes that I haven’t done before.

In general, the peloton can replace the gym, especially for people who just want to lose weight, feel better, and have more energy. Training at home allows for high exercise session compliance, which leads to better results, as long as you stick to your diet.

Is a peloton as good as a gym? As a whole, the peloton is as good as a gym because it targets all the major components of fitness like cardio, muscle strength, endurance, speed, or even flexibility at the comfort of your home. It also works as a performance assessment tool because of the built-in power output meter.

Can you really get in shape with a peloton? As a whole, you can get in shape with a peloton because apart from a bike it also offers thousands of strength and conditioning classes that help to add variety. Studies have shown that training with a variety of workouts often leads to better results, compared to doing the same routine.

That’s what I love about the peloton. Not only it helps you to save time by training at home but also to try different types of workouts (more on that later).

Before I compare the price, satisfaction, adherence, and convenience, I want to see the pros and cons between the gym and the peloton when it comes to the actual results (weight loss, health, performance, and hypertrophy).

Peloton vs Gym for Weight Loss

As a whole, there is not much difference between gym and peloton when it comes to weight loss because the main factor that drives fat loss is a calorie deficit, not exercise.

Dr. Christian K Roberts from GRECC (Geriatrics, Research, Education, and Clinical Center) in Los Angeles, documented 27 adults who participated in a 12-week home-based training program.

This research involved doing a 40-minute exercise class 6 days a week (from one of the popular home fitness app), together with the supply of pre-packaged meals calculated to elicit a caloric deficit of approximately 500 kcal per day.

Each week the classes were getting harder to ensure progressive overload was implemented, while the calories remained the same for the entire 12 weeks. Also, the class selection was different to ensure variety.

Progressive overload means as the weeks go by you gradually choose more difficult classes. This helps to trigger better muscle protein synthesis and leads to higher lean muscle mass.

The results showed significant improvements in body fat percentage, as well as with resting heart rate and blood pressure. On average, each person lost 6.2kg of fat, gained 0.6kg of muscle mass, and reduced their BMI by 2.4 (Roberts et al. 2019).

Here you can see the details.

MeasurementsBefore After
Body Weight (kg)74.468.3
Fat Mass (kg)24.017.2
Body Fat (%)32.525.6
Lean Tissue Mass (kg)47.848.4
Systolic Pressure (mmHg)117.1113.7
Diastolic Pressure (mmHg)76.568.6
Resting Heart Rate (bpm)69.262.2
Results after 12-week home-based fitness program

As you can see, all of the metrics improved significantly. I think this shows that regardless if you’re working out at home using a Peloton bike or in the gym you can get the same results, as long as your nutrition is in place.

The peloton workouts are enough to stay fit because doing daily cardio and strength, together with a healthy diet is enough to lose and maintain a healthy weight. It also has a variety of stretching and yoga sessions that helps to improve recovery and reduce muscle tension.

Is a peloton better than a gym for weight loss? As a whole, the peloton is better than the gym for weight loss because it allows training from home. Home-based workouts lead to high compliance and better consistency in the long term. Peloton also allows training at the low impact on the rest and recovery days.

Peloton vs Gym for Performance

When it comes to performance, the difference between gym and peloton bike is that gym offers a distinct fitness program that helps with particular goals.

This means that a kickboxer would choose a boxing gym with rings, college students who play soccer would choose a gym with a strength and conditioning plan, and an alpinist would go for a gym with a climbing wall.

Those places offer a training plan that specializes in that particular sport, they use sport-specific movement and provide professional support.

But if you do play soccer, you still can get some jaw-dropping results from using peloton. To learn more check out my article “peloton for soccer“.

On the other hand, the peloton has no personalization in the classes. If you join the class with 100 people and everyone is doing the same workout.

Of course, you will still improve your VO2max or fitness level on the peloton bike. The peloton has a lot of classes that challenge your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, burn lots of calories, and make you feel good.

This means you improve your cardiovascular fitness but not the sport-specific skills. Unless you’re a cyclist.

Is peloton good for cyclists? As a whole, the peloton is good for cycling performance because it offers a variety of endurance rides (some last up to 90 minutes) that challenge your stamina. It also offers training programs that help to improve your 5K, 10K, or even a marathon.

If you want to learn more about “peloton marathon training“, check out my article here.

In other words, the peloton makes you a better cyclist or endurance athlete because you can train intensity, training volume, and mileage at home.

Is gym better than peloton for performance? Overall, the gym is better than the peloton for improving performance because gyms allow for more tailored fitness programs and employ full-time professionals for support. The peloton helps to burn calories, but it doesn’t teach you skills.

So keep that in mind.

Peloton vs Gym for Muscle Building

Building muscle goes hand in hand with fat loss and body composition. More muscle mass is directly related to higher metabolic rate and high-calorie burn.

However, if your goal is to build muscle mass, the gym is much more effective than the peloton because it allows to training at higher intensity, uses heavier weights, and offers more variety of exercises.

Studies have shown that high-load resistance training (heavyweights) is more effective for maximizing strength and training adaptations, comparing to lightweights (Schoenfeld et al. 2015).

Plus, the most effective exercises to build strength and lean mass are compound movements like deadlift, bench press, squat, pull-up, snatch, clean, and kettlebell swing using the barbell and heavier dumbbells. In the gym, you have access to do all of them.

Not only that.

You can also add more isolation exercises using machines, cables, and bands that help target each specific muscle. Adding more isolation movements elicits metabolic stress in the muscle fibers and helps to stimulate hypertrophy.

What I like about training at the gym is you can literally adjust your exercises to focus on your areas of concern (e.g. glutes, pecs, traps). It’s much easier to build a chest when you have access to dumbbells, barbells, cables, and pec dec, versus push-ups only.

Can you build muscle with a peloton? Overall, you can build muscle with a peloton because it has several strength classes that work on the same body part (e.g. legs) and uses progressive overload to stimulate muscle growth. However, adding more weight and a variety of exercises is more effective.

I won’t be covering here all the details about building muscle on a peloton. I’ve already covered that in my article “does peloton build muscle“, which I recommend you read.

Peloton vs Gym for Comfort

The difference between a peloton and a gym is that a peloton offers a lot of convenience by allowing to train from home. This not only saves time but also makes you independent from the fitness class schedule, and allows you to train at your preferred time.

Before, if I wanted to get a good workout I would have to join gyms like YMCA, OrangeTheory, or SoulCycle and adjust my day to fit into their schedule. If the spin class was at 4 pm, then I needed to be there at 4 pm.

Now, I wake up at 5 am and the first thing I do is join the peloton class. And to be honest, there are not many spinning studios that offer high-energy classes at this time. With peloton, I can be up even at 3 am and still break a sweat.

Here are some of the examples of how peloton adds convenience to my life:

  1. Saves time – Normally, it takes me at least 30 minutes drive to get to my gym. Thats 60 minutes per day just on commuting to be able to train. Now, I can use that 60 minutes on my work, meal prep or fun time.
  1. Allows for short sessions – I have at least 2-3 days in the week where I can only spend 15-20 minute for my workouts. Before, I would skip my workouts because I felt like going to the gym for only 20 minutes is pointless. Now, I can do 15-20 minute class and don’t feel guilty anymore.
  1. Allows to train during the day – Sometimes I like to train around 2pm because thats when I feel a dip in my energy. Normally, I had to drink multiple coffees to stay awake. Now, I either do short tabata ride or 15-minute yoga session to wake me up.
  1. Allows to train on days off – I strongly believe in active recovery. I think its better for the body to keep moving even on your days off. With peloton I can run a short recovery ride or practice restorative yoga, even on my recovery days.
  1. Its always available – Gym can be very crowded, especially during the peak season (January) and during the peak times (5 to 8 pm). With peloton, I have no problems because its always avaibale.

Overall, the peloton is more convenient than the gym because it allows you to train every day, even if it’s just the 10-15 minutes session. It also allows you to do other things simultaneously like watching Netflix or staying with your kids, instead of getting someone to look after them.

Of course, if you want to combine convenience and strength training, I would recommend checking out home-gym equipment like tonal or mirror. Tonal is basically a smart fitness trainer that uses AI technology and helps to use resistance training at home.

Still curious? Click here to check out my article “tonal vs peloton“.

Keep in mind that many gyms these days are more than just a workout room. Depending on where you have your membership, several fitness centers also offer additional amenities in their facilities like:

  • coffee shop
  • smoothie bars
  • pools
  • jacuzzis
  • sauna
  • steam room
  • spa and massage
  • physiotherapy
  • cryotherapy
  • tanning beds
  • squash court
  • tennis court
  • kids club and daycare facilities
  • body composition analysis

If you like to have a smoothie after your workouts, check your body fat percentage, do heat/cold therapy, have a facial, or squash game with your buddies then the gym is much more convenient.

Peloton vs Gym for Social Support

As a whole, the gym is better for social support the peloton because of the community and in-person interaction. People who like to be around others and prefer meeting in person may prefer the gym, instead of seeing each other on the leaderboard.

What I like about the gym’s social support is that you become friends with others that you train. Some gym offers gatherings, social events, tournaments, after parties, and charity events. This creates a strong bond between the people and solidifies their commitment to fitness.

However, this is not always the case.

Recently, one of my clients complained that in her gym people weren’t very pleasant and make her feel uncomfortable during the yoga class. This left her with a bad first impression, and she told me that she probably won’t be back again.

Instead, she was happy to join the on-demand class at the comfort of her house, felt more relaxed and comfortable in her body.

What’s the difference between the peloton and the gym community? Overall, the difference between the peloton and gym community is that the peloton has a strong online community on Facebook and Reddit, where a lot of people find advice and develop long-term friendships. On the other hand, the gym has more face-to-face interaction in small groups.

Peloton vs Gym for Price

The difference between Peloton and gym in price will depend on what type of gym you sign up for, the type of your contract, and the state that you live in.

What is a more expensive peloton or the gym? As a whole, the peloton is more expensive than the gym because of the high peloton bike upfront cost. However, after a couple of years having a peloton is less expensive than regular gym membership because there are no annual costs.

Some gyms require an initial fee, annual fee, and a monthly fee as part of their membership contract. Over time this will can up to several hundreds of dollars, which makes peloton less expensive from the perspective of time.

Here is the comparison between peloton and gym costs for some of the most popular fitness clubs.

Initial FeePrice/month
Peloton $1,495$39
Life Time Fitness$49$79
Goodlife Fitness$69.99
Gold’s Gym$49$24.99
Anytime Fitness$49$38.99
24 Hour Fitness$103.09$49.99
Curves$99$39
YMCA$50$44
LA Fitness$99$29.49
Planet Fitness$1$10
Peloton vs gym membership prices

Also, keep in mind that peloton can be used by many people who live in the same house. Collectively, this makes it cheaper than a gym membership.

Is a peloton cheaper than a gym membership? As a whole, the peloton is cheaper than a gym membership, as long as more people are using it. The peloton bike can be used by everyone in the family for the same price, wherein the fitness center you need to pay for each person separately.

Initially, you still have to spend more on the peloton. But after 5 or 10 years, you actually save money.

Conclusion

As you can see, you can replace the gym with a peloton, depending on your goals and lifestyle. People who are just looking for ways to insert their fitness routine into their day can definitively benefit from having a peloton.

However, if your goals are more specific, you have a performance-oriented objective, you need help from a PT, or you simply enjoy meeting others in person, then the gym is a better option.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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