The pandemic has forced me to become reacquainted with my kitchen skills while having the "he's just not that into you" love affair with my yoga pants. It wasn't until I tried on some jeans that I got the real skinny on my unfortunate situation. The quarantine fifteen is no joke! It was time to end this unhealthy love affair with the couch, Animal Crossing, and homemade bread.
As I started to ease back into some exercise routines, I sought out workouts to take my at-home gym routine to a whole new level. I wanted my workout to be both exciting and something I could actually stick to overtime. So, after scrolling through my options online for at-home exercise equipment, I set my sights on spinning or indoor cycling. This review will focus primarily on the differences between the original Peloton and the NordicTrack S15i.
At the beginning of my hunt for a stationary bike, I first debated whether I should settle for a mid-range exercise bike from Amazon or opt for a higher-end model that could withstand years of use. It became a particularly tough task to pin down a bike that came well equipped with a gym-quality experience that would help me stay motivated while socially distanced and unable to visit the gym. Enter the NordicTrack and Peloton spinning bikes, the two leading home studio bikes. But, this led me to decide between becoming the newest member of Peloton, The Gift That Gives Back, with a touch of religious zeal, or the NordicTrack bike, a truly interactive experience without the cringe-worthy pretentiousness.
I eventually chose the NordicTrack bike for my fitness needs. Let me delve deeper into why I bought a NordicTrack instead of a Peloton.
It won't come as a shocking revelation that both NordicTrack, and Peloton's lineup of high-end exercise equipment, is on the pricier side. Yet, both companies produce fantastic options depending on your fitness preferences.
Both the Peloton and NordicTrack feature silent magnetic resistance which features a heavy flywheel and a u-shaped magnet. As resistance is set higher, the magnet moves closer to the wheel, making you work harder with each pedal stroke.
Before the Peloton Bike + was released, the NordicTrack bikes were the only ones that feature a swivel screen for off-bike workouts and trainer-led resistance. The NordicTrack include incline and a built-in fan, which are not included on the new Peloton.
The trainer-led resistance was a big factor for my husband and me. This meant that the trainer in the classes would automatically adjust the incline and difficulty based on what your effort should be. For example, if you were doing an interval workout with bursts of high exertion and periods of rest, the difficulty would change automatically.
When I purchased my bike only a few months ago, the NordicTrack S15i was priced at $1599, the S22i at $1999, while the Peloton was priced at $2,245, placing NordicTrack ahead of the game. Since then, Peloton has felt the heat from its top contender, dropping its original Peloton bike's price to a more attractive $1,895 and pushing out a pricer bike with added features at $2,495 that acts notably similar to the successful NordicTrack.
Another factor in the price department is the extra expenses. The NordicTrack bike’s pedals come equipped with toe cages that allow you to use your favorite running shoes. The Peloton’s pedals required special cleats that clip into the pedals, similar to what you would find on a traditional road bike. This means that I and my husband would have to spend an additional couple hundred dollars on shoes to use the bike. Not something I was excited to do.
The training software on each of the bikes also was an area of added expense. The Peloton app fitness membership is $39 per month. The iFit app, which is what NordicTrack uses, is only $33 per month and they give you one year free, an extra value of $396. The price difference when you consider the original cost of the bike, the added equipment, and the membership suddenly became closer to $1000 dollars instead of a couple of hundred dollars. Yikes!
At the end of the day, the membership price difference between the Peloton studio software and the iFit software is negligible. There are, however, quite a few differences between the two. The Peloton app’s specialty is live studio classes where the trainer can look at your stats and encourage you to push harder or correct your cadence. There are also live leaderboards to help you stay competitive in classes. The iFit app recently added leaderboards, and even more recently, live classes. If you’re looking solely for a live studio experience though, the Peloton has the NordicTrack beat.
Where the NordicTrack shines though, is the outdoor classes. These pre-recorded classes have you following a trainer across the world in all kinds of different settings. You could do one workout where you’re challenging yourself to an endurance ride through Vietnam or climbing the hills of sunny San Francisco. The 15-inch screen on the NordicTrack S15i lets you take in all the beauty around you while you ride. That is, while you’re not cursing about how much your legs hurt. There are all kinds of different workout types and the locations range from busy cities to off-road desert trails. My husband and I were very interested in these outdoor workouts and thought it was cool to be able to ride through places we’ve never been to. Additionally, it also gave us a sense of escapism during this pandemic which was a real breath of fresh air and helped stay connected during a difficult time.
Another feature is the ability to plot your own course on Google Maps and ride it. You’ll have to set your own resistance, and instead of a video, you’ll ride through the Google Street View images. It’s not as exhilarating as the trainer-led outdoor classes, but it’s another nice bit of variety to the iFit app.
As far as equipment goes, Peloton offers a bike and a treadmill. The Peloton app provides classes for biking and running. The iFit app, on the other hand, covers a broader spectrum of equipment. NordicTrack makes spinning bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, and strength training machines. All of them include iFit. There are also other equipment manufacturers that use iFit as their software. If we ever purchased more exercise equipment our single iFit subscription would allow us to use all of them without having to pay more or buy a separate subscription.
I’ve been using the NordicTrack S15i spinning bike for a few weeks now at the time of this review. I’ve had the chance to do a few different types of classes and all of them have pushed me to work harder. The variety in classes and locations has really done a great job of keeping me engaged in the bike. I also joined a monthly challenge to complete a set of workouts for a special badge on my iFit account. The variety and versatility of the bike and iFit software have been key in keeping my husband and me motivated to work out on a regular basis. For those of you on the fence, pull the trigger and get this solid bike home today! For those of you saying, "But it's not a Peloton," you're right its not. Yet, it speaks volumes that Peloton decided to make a bike that had that same incredible features as the NordicTrack, but still couldn't deliver on the same great price!