Breaking Up With Peloton

At the start of the pandemic, Paige Van Otten, a stay-at-home mom in Seattle, loved being able to sneak into a quick Peloton workout while her young son napped.

“You think, ‘Oh, it’s so convenient, I can do it anytime,’” he said. “But really, I could only do it at nap time. I started to resent how limiting it felt.”

Last fall, when her daughter started preschool and her gym reopened, Ms. Van Otten, 34, went back to her gym and started a weight-lifting program there. “I like it much better,” she said. “I feel like a real adult and not just a parent.”

Exercising away from home can give you “a separate space, free from other responsibilities, where you spend your time doing something that’s just for you,” said Pirkko Markula, a sociologist at the University of Alberta who studies the fitness industry.

The more you limit the probability of interruption, the more productive your training will be, said Elizabeth Leonard, who teaches at the Barre3 studio in Brookline, Massachusetts. When she tries to work out in her living room, “I get distracted, like, ‘Wow, I can see under the couch, I need to vacuum,'” she said. “If you’re half thinking about something else, it’s a lot harder to focus.”

Ms. Taylor said she sometimes relaxes with her Platoon because “nobody sees me do it.” She works harder in an Orange Theory class because the coach will notice her calling on the phone.

In spite of the cult following some Peloton instructors draw, they are limited in the personal encouragement they can offer; the closest thing is a brief on-screen “shout” to a cyclist celebrating a milestone.

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