Get Ready to Ride!
Since all the gyms in my area are closed indefinitely and every road race has been cancelled for the foreseeable future, a few weeks back I caved and bought a Peloton — one of those fancy “smart bikes” that blends high-quality home exercise equipment with a pretty impressive streaming library of workout videos. The delivery folks dropped it off at my house this past Friday, and I am immediately convinced that it was worth every penny.
In EDrenaline Rush, I wrote at length about my love of crazy obstacle course races, marathons, and extreme outdoor challenges. And most years, my weekends through the fall, winter, and spring months typically consist of all sorts of road races including Tough Mudder events, Spartan Races, and at least one or two marathons up and down the East Coast. Though each of these races come with a pretty significant registration fee (usually in the neighborhood of $120 or so apiece), I’ve gotta’ admit that I kinda’ like feeling the sting of a financial obligation to help hold me accountable to keep up with my workout schedule. Far too often, it’s really easy to justify blowing off just about anything if it feels like there are no consequences and nobody is watching.
I’ll admit, the Peloton’s $2,245 purchase price was steep. But the purchase price includes a full year of Peloton All-Access Membership ($39/mo), an app that gives you on-demand streaming access to a comprehensive video library of cycling, cardio, and stretching workouts. While it’s still a whole lot more expensive than “free,” it actually felt like a bit of a steal when I crunched the numbers. Before the pandemic hit I was already spending $10 in gym memberships and another $99 a month for membership at my neighborhood Yoga studio — and there is exactly zero chance I’ll be setting foot in either of those locations until long after COVID-19 is a distance memory. And as a teacher who leaves home before sunup on most mornings and returns from work well after the sun has set (my commute to and from work takes about 45 minutes to an hour or more each way), I looked at the Peloton as an investment in my physical and mental health. There’s nothing worse than spending a full day trapped inside of a dreary building… and that’s before we’re dealing with all the added stress of working through a global pandemic! So if an overpriced piece of exercise equipment could give me a safe space to bang out an at-home workout at any time, night or day? Sign. Me. Up.
There’s a lot to love about Peloton, including it’s “gamified” approach to fitness tracking and self improvement. The machine is part bicycle, part video game — complete with a really sharp Heads Up Display (“HUD”) of all your latest performance metrics. Here’s just a handful of its features:
- There’s a massive leaderboard where you can see how your stats are comparing with other cyclists or all-time high scores (so you can decide to push yourself to perform to your personal best or even race against the ghosts of riders past!).
- You can tap the screen to exchange a virtual “high five” to a fellow rider who’s just accomplished a workout milestone.
- Perhaps you’d just like to take a virtual cruise through a mountain trail or enjoy a leisurely tour of a wandering bike path along a sun-soaked beach at your own pace? No problem. You can filter results and hide any of the analytics on your HUD with the simple tap of the screen to remove any stats that might cause you unnecessary stress along the way.
- There’s a vast library of workouts to explore each time you dive deeper into the app’s “binge-worthy” catalog, including pre-recorded sessions “on demand” led by instructors for riders of all skill levels, and “live” sessions where you join fellow riders and a virtual teacher who’s dialing in from the Peloton studios in New York City.
- In live classes, the high-energy workout instructors offer a ton of positive affirmation, and literally call individual people out by name throughout the ride to celebrate their accomplishments. (Talk about great modeling for those of us still learning how to do this whole “distance teaching” thing!)
- As you ride, you unlock various badges, streaks, achievements, and personal milestones. Consecutive weeks of training, longest single workout, most calories burned in a single day, etc. etc. etc.
- You have the ability to sync your Peloton with your Facebook account to share real-life workout milestones with your friends from across the web.
- Instructors often provide a pulse-pounding soundtrack for each of the workout sessions. With the simple tap of the screen as you pedal away, you can add cool new tunes to your Apple Music or Spotify playlists.
Did I mention I’m sold yet?
Anyhow — I was so impressed with my first few rides on the Peloton that I decided to whip up a quick Google Slides presentation inspired by its Heads Up Display. The fully editable slide deck gives you the ability to swap out individual slide backgrounds in any way you’d like, and to edit in the names (and profile photos!) of any users you can imagine into the leaderboard. Even just at first glance, my brain is racing with all sorts of creative possibilities how this template might add a little fun to your lesson plans. For example, you might:
- Swap out different backgrounds during a teacher-led presentation to take a “virtual bike ride” through your current unit of study.
- Task students with creating a multi-slide slideshow where they find relevant images, people, and soundtracks to help “tour” your current unit of study.
- Edit any of the content in the leaderboard to swap in names and photos of famous faces taking part in a virtual “race” through anything you can imagine (U.S. Presidents “racing” to the White House, Lord of the Rings characters “racing” to Mount Doom, etc.).
- Have students film short screencasts where they take classmates along with them on their “virtual tour” of their original landscape creations, explaining the sites, sounds & “racers” they’ve included on the leaderboard.
Like a great Peloton workout, there’s really no wrong way to do it with this template. Simply pop open the Google Slides presentation and swap in any content that sets your imagination on fire! So have fun! And please keep me posted. Would love to see what sort of creative trouble we all can get into in the ride ahead! Stay safe out there, and I’ll see you on the leaderboard!