Peloton Guide Review: Best Features, Benefits and Tips
I’ve been a Peloton member since March 2021. I didn’t buy my Bike Plus during the original peloton pandemic frenzy in 2020, but I ordered it during our second California COVID shut down in the early part of 2021.
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When I first got my bike, I expected I’d be mostly riding and for a while I did. But within a couple of months I discovered Peloton strength training and I got hooked. Recently I hit my 900th strength workout, while I still haven’t made it to 300 rides.
For most of the last two years I’ve been doing strength workouts using my bike screen. I turn the screen around and lay a mat in front. Occasionally I use the Peloton app on my phone if I’m away from home and that works fine too.
When the Peloton guide was announced, I thought, well that looks neat but I’m not sure I need it. Then they had a sale on the bundle with the mat and heart rate monitor and I decided to take the plunge.
We unboxed the guide and looked at all the parts, then put it aside for another several months. I was happy with my routine and it never seemed to be the right time to install something new. I kept taking strength classes where the instructor would say, “if you’re using the Peloton Guide, make sure to turn your mat lengthwise for best results.” I was curious but I kept on doing my same old routine.
Setting it up
Finally in March of this year I decided it was time to try it out. I found all the parts, dusted them off and Mark and I connected it up to the TV in our upstairs room.
It was very easy to install and I was able to login on my phone instead of via the TV keyboard. The hardest part was finding the perfect place for the guide so that the camera is effective. We had recently relocated the bike, so I had limited the space in front of the TV, but it turned out there was plenty of room to put the mat in front and direct the camera to where it could see me.
The Peloton Guide is a small device – 6.5 inches long by 2.5 inches wide to be exact, so it doesn’t take a whole lot of space. It broadcasts in 4K if your TV allows and you can also connect it to a Bluetooth speaker if you want better sound.
On the right side of the guide is a pretty sizable 12MP camera, that you can easily close. I understand some people might get freaked out about being on camera but I think it’s the best part of the device. It also has a microphone included that you can use for voice control, which you can also shut off on the back of the device for privacy.
If you’re worried about others seeing your video or hearing your voice, you shouldn’t be – there is no storage on the device and it is streaming the classes to you, not back to Peloton.
Using the Guide
Once I got my guide setup and my mat where I wanted it, it was time to start taking classes. I started with Callie’s 5 minute intro to guide class to learn the basics, which was really helpful to see the differences in the other strength classes.
I was already used to taking Peloton strength classes, so the newest part for me was the camera and the movement tracker.
Once you launch a class, it brings up an overview screen the same way it would on the bike screen or in the app. It confirms what equipment you need, how long the class is, and what some of the movements are.
Something unique to the guide is the weight bench feature – you can keep track of all the weights you have and add/subtract from it as needed. When you start a class with weights, the Guide will remind you what weights you need and confirm the ones you are using.
Once you are in a class made for movement tracker, there are a few ways it keeps track of your progress.
- Time Tracked – if you are doing something with a timer, like planks, there will be a timer that comes up on the screen. As long as the guide can see you and you are moving, it will keep going, and when the exercise is done, you’ll get a checkmark.
- Time Tracked Plus Reps – for timed exercises where you’re lifting weights, the movement tracker will also count your reps. For me, this has been hit or miss. Sometimes it doesn’t see all my reps and sometimes it gives me extra.
- Rep Counting – for exercises with a targeted amount of reps – you’ll see the rep counter as an arch on the screen and it will count each rep you do as long as it can see you with the camera. I find this more accurate, and I have noticed that sometimes when I don’t have the proper form, on something like a squat, it doesn’t give me credit, so I have to make sure I do it right.
- Weight Volume – in weight lifting classes, the guide also tracks the total volume – number of reps x weight. I am not sure how useful it is, but it feels good to see these numbers go up! I guess this is a good way to see progress as you repeat classes and/or move to heavier weights.
In general, warm ups aren’t tracked, and there are some other exercises that aren’t tracked either, although sometimes it feels like they should be.
When you’ve finished the class, you can look at your results to see how well you did on the movement tracker and/or reps. If you’ve taken the class before, you can see how you’ve improved (or not!).
You can choose to have the self mode camera on or off and you can move it to different parts of the screen – side by side, top and bottom, or in the bottom corner of the screen. This is really helpful to be able to see if you have the proper form.
The self-mode camera is also great for other strength classes that don’t use the movement tracker. For me, it’s been especially great for Yoga, Pilates and Barre. Although my form looked so much better in my imagination!
In all the Peloton classes, I also love the ability to see the class plan on the screen. You can see what’s coming up next, and about how long each exercise is, so you can plan for what’s coming and see when you might get a break.
Finding the right classes for you
The easiest way to find content for Peloton Guide is right from the home screen. You’ll see a selection of different classes that you can browse. Everything that it shows you will be made for the movement tracker, as noted by the little icon by the class.
There are plenty of classes to keep you busy, for most every level and with several different instructors. The Strength Roll Call classes are designed to cover the entire body in five sessions, and you can do those live or on demand. The live classes generally start at 4:30 a.m. Pacific, so those are better for east coasters or early birds.
If you’re like me and you like to stack your classes ahead of time, it’s best to use the Peloton App on your phone. You can filter strength classes in the app by selecting: Made for Movement Tracker. There seems to be a decent amount of variety of class length, body focus and a diverse group of instructors. Unfortunately for me this filter isn’t on the web yet, and that is generally where I plan most of my stacks.
You can also use Voice control for some features of the Peloton Guide (as long as you have the microphone turned on). Just say, “Ok Peloton” and then tell it what you want. I’ve been mostly using it to start classes, pause workouts, and turn it off when I’m done. It is also a great way to search for classes and to change your camera angle on demand.
I bought the Peloton Guide bundle with the heart rate tracker, but I haven’t used it. I have an Apple Watch and it works with the Guide just like it does on my bike – I just launch the Peloton App on my watch and it connects with the guide and shows it on screen.
So far I really love taking classes with the Peloton Guide. Self-mode is really helpful to see my form, and the movement tracker, when it works, is really helpful to see my progress.
It also feels like Peloton is putting a lot of effort into continually improving the software. I’ve had several updates, taken a survey, and after most every class it prompts me for feedback.
There’s a few improvements I’d like to see – primarily the ability to filter for “made for movement tracker” on the web so I can build stacks there.
I also miss some of my other favorite Peloton features: being able to high five someone, show my hashtags, and save songs to favorites. I know there’s no touch screen but maybe this could be something they could add to the voice control or a hand gesture.
I think the guide is a great way to get access to the huge catalog of Peloton content and the camera and movement tracker add a lot of value versus just using the Peloton App on your phone or TV. I look forward to more new features and improvements.
See you on the leaderboard!