Peloton Tread Review 2021 – Is New Peloton Treadmill Worth It?

I’m going to start this review with a quick confession: I’ve hated working out for most of my life. While this may resonate with some readers, I’ll remind you that I literally work at Men’s Health. My job is largely focused on sharing leg day finishers and recommendations for adjustable dumbbells, and over the last few years I’ve integrated words like “jacked” and “ripped” and “cut” and “swole” into my vocabulary with alarming regularity.

But, growing up, I avoided weight rooms and the judgement I assumed lurked within them at all costs. I loved sports, but I was simply very bad at them. I was better at theater, and aside from learning choreo for Fiddler on the Roof and learning to walk in stiletto heels because my role in The Producers required me to complete a song-and-dance number in full drag, there was very little rigorous physical activity I was forced to encounter. I was a varsity athlete in high school, but it’s important to note that I lettered in bowling.

The irony is not lost on me, then, that I work at one of the world’s foremost health and fitness publications for men, a job I landed without having to do 100 burpees on-the-spot or climb a large rope to the ceiling of our office in some capitalistic nightmare version of the Presidential Fitness Test. Still, over the last few years, I’ve begun to make my health and wellness more of a priority. Beyond cooking more nutritious meals, cutting back on booze, and seeing a therapist, one lifestyle choice has been more transformative in the past year than the sum of all my lifestyle choices in all previous years: I joined Peloton.

I was more than a little skeptical when I started a free trial for the digital fitness streaming service. But once pandemic lockdown hit, Peloton became a lifeline during days that were filled with dread and foreboding. With our gym closed, my wife and I bought a stationary bike for our apartment and we’d stream spin classes, pedaling away from daily anxiety that came from Erin’s work at a hospital in New York and a world that seemed to be collapsing around us. I’d also do yoga and meditation off-bike, as well as strength training that inspired me to get my first pair of adjustable dumbbells. Peloton’s guided outdoor runs helped me get better at running—an exercise I’d long despised more than any other—so I could train for my first 5K (I ran another the week after, and then kept running them).

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Over weeks and months, Peloton classes became a part of our daily routine, helping to keep the Quarantine 15 at bay and pushing us to break our PRs. But it wasn’t until I was invited to test the Peloton Tread that this new lifestyle really clicked into place. Over the past 45 days, I’ve put the treadmill through its paces, learning the ins and outs of Peloton’s latest release. Here’s everything you need to know about the new Peloton Tread, which will be available for purchase starting May 27, 2021.

It’s a beautifully designed piece of hardware.

Space is limited in my apartment, and I was wary of adding any piece of fitness equipment. But I was pleasantly surprised by the Peloton Tread’s efficient design, with its 68” L x 33” W footprint—smaller than many sofas—wedging into a corner in our second bedroom/office with ease. And while its frame is certainly compact, its belt provides 59 inches of running space, meaning I can run without constantly worrying where my feet are touching down.

The carbon steel platform, as well as its woven nylon base and textured PVC top running belt, are built to take a beating, providing a sturdiness I wasn’t accustomed to running on more commercial, bulkier treadmills at the gym. And perhaps the most striking visual detail is the 23.8” HD touchscreen, which is sweat-proof and easy to clean. As someone who started last year doing workouts off my small iPhone screen, it’s really staggering to how transportive the high-quality streaming video is when it comes to an immersive workout.

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The Peloton Tread is impressively quiet. I can toss on a pair of headphones and get work done at my desk a few steps away while my wife runs on the treadmill behind me, which is a huge asset in the WFH department.

I also found the controls to be intuitive, with basically zero learning curve necessary to get up and running only minutes after the Peloton Tread was assembled in my apartment. The knob for incline is on your left and the knob for speed is on your right, with “jump” buttons in the middle of each that quickly take your level up to the closest whole number. Since a lot of the Peloton running classes are intervals-based, the responsive controls become second nature to your workout, not having to pause or get tripped up because you’re accidentally jogging up a huge hill when you’re meant to be sprinting down a straightaway.

It’s so much more than just a treadmill.

While the sleek hardware is no doubt first-rate, it’s the software that has managed to convert me to a Peloton devotee. Peloton, at its core, is a content platform featuring hundreds upon hundreds of on-demand fitness classes, as well as live classes, that suck you in the same way that Netflix sucks you in on a lazy Sunday. But instead of bingeing a true crime series in one sitting, you’re bingeing Progression runs or intermediate yoga classes or a challenging Total Strength program.

The instructors are really Peloton’s secret weapons, filled with personality and expertise, each with their own unique style of fitness coaching. Depending on the day, I’m drawn to different instructors: Jess Sims when I want my ass kicked, Matty Maggiacomo when I want to laugh, Emma Lovewell when I want to vibe out to good music, Becs Gentry when I want some positive reinforcement, or Alex Toussaint when I need to get hyped. That I’ve never met these instructors doesn’t mean I don’t feel a special connection to them, one that certainly motivates me to work on days when I’d rather sit on the couch. Many of the instructors also specialize across multiple types of fitness on the platform, so you feel more comfortable trying new workouts because there’s a friendly face.

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Good music is essential to my workouts, and Peloton programs many of its classes with a special emphasis on the soundtrack. While I enjoy the more basic themes like “90s Hip-Hop” or “Dancehall,” I’m especially drawn to Peloton’s Artist Series, where the playlist is all one artist—like Beyonce or Prince or Bob Marley or Lady Gaga or Elvis Presley—and the instructor mixes in music trivia and history with the workout. If you have Spotify, you can “favorite” tracks that come up in your workout and they’re automatically added to a playlist, giving this machine an edge when it comes to music discovery.

The Tread isn’t just about simple running—it’s also about grueling hikes, recovery walk/runs, HIIT workouts, and bootcamps that take you on and off the treadmill in the same workout. While using the Tread, you also have access to non-running classes, and the screen tilts 50 degrees so you can easily see it while doing off-Tread yoga, strength, pilates, and other workouts.

I like how Peloton gamifies working out, incorporating your “streak” into profile and offering a suite of performance analytics that makes everything feel more personalized. Within the software, there are badges and milestone achievements to earn that incentivize pushing yourself to work harder and more often. If you’re the kind of person who likes tracking your health on a smartwatch, the Peloton Tread will similarly scratch that itch.

It’s an investment in your health and wellbeing.

At $2,495, the Peloton Tread is not cheap. However, that price tag is a little more accessible than the Tread+, which goes for $4,295. With the Tread+, you get a little more running room, a slightly bigger screen, and a shock-absorbing slat belt, which over time may be a little kinder to your legs. But if you’re used to a treadmill with a classic, continuous running belt, you’ll be more than satisfied with the Tread experience.

For the full Tread experience, you’ll also want to have a workout mat, some free weights or resistance bands, and a heart rate monitor, which syncs up with the treadmill via Bluetooth. You also have to pay $39 per month for an All-Access Membership. That certainly adds up, and there are more affordable treadmills with fewer bells and whistles you can buy if you’re trying to upgrade your home gym.

But in a time where you might be less eager to go to a crowded gym or do intense cardio in a face mask, the Peloton Tread’s price may be right given all its benefits.

It’s an invitation to a bonafide fitness community.

And while you might roll your eyes at Peloton’s rah-rah vibe at first—I certainly did—I’ve found the instructors’ ability to make you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself to be nothing short of remarkable.

You can view the leaderboard on any Peloton Tread workout and feel like you’re not just running alone in your little apartment, but you’re doing it alongside thousands of other people trying to be just a little bit healthier. In a time of increased social isolation, that’s especially empowering, and it’s a main reason I feel grateful to have found Peloton when I did.

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