Easy access also means easy interruption.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Paige Van Otten, a stay-at-home mother in Seattle, loved that she could sneak in a quick Peloton workout while her toddler napped.
“You think, ‘Oh, it’s so convenient, I can do it anytime,” she said. “But really, I could only do it at nap time. I started to resent how limiting that 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 a lot better,” she said. “I feel like a true adult and not just a parent.”
Exercising outside your home can give you “a separate space, free of other responsibilities, where you spend 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 likelihood of interruption, the more productive your workout will be, said Elizabeth Leonard, who teaches at the Barre3 studio in Brookline, Mass. When she’s tried to exercise in her living room, “I’ll get distracted, like, ‘wow, I can see underneath the couch, I need to vacuum,” she said. “If you’re half thinking about something else, it’s much harder to focus.”
There’s no replacement for a real-life instructor.
Ms. Taylor said that she sometimes slacks off on her Peloton because “there’s nobody watching me do it.” She works harder in an OrangeTheory class because the coach will notice her phoning it in.
Despite the cultlike followings some Peloton instructors draw, they’re limited in the personal encouragement they can offer; the closest thing is a brief on-screen “shout-out” to a rider celebrating a milestone.