Like many during the pandemic school year, I found myself teaching from multiple rooms in my house and unable to visit my local gym, or generally workout freely and effectively. Also like many, I decided to take the plunge and purchase a Peloton bike, and I haven’t looked back ever since.
I am now more active than I have been over the past 10 years or so, riding, stretching, meditating, taking yoga classes and currently working my way through a bodyweight workout program. My Peloton makes being active easier, more fun, and as I celebrate my ‘Peloversary’, I still maintain that it’s been one of the best investments I’ve made since investing in a one-way trip to the US to marry my wife(!).
But this isn’t a blog post about any of the above. It’s about an unexpected additional benefit I’ve found from clipping in and joining pre-recorded and live workouts from the Peloton Studios in New York and London.
Working out with Peloton makes me a better teacher and here’s five reasons why.
The Instructors. If you think that the instructors all come from a successful athletic background, think again. While Christine D’Ercole cycled professionally, Robin Arzón is an ex-lawyer, Sam Yo is an ex-Buddhist Monk and Jess Sims is a Teach for America graduate who became a Principal at Harlem Village Academies.
Each instructor starts their classes with a smiling, welcoming approach and pairs their motivational delivery with inspirational mantras and confidence-boosting intentions and I am reminded that I need to do the same, whenever I teach my students.
I know that when I jump on that camera, my goal is to be the best 30 minutes, 45 minutes of someone’s day. So I know that I have to not only bring energy, I put a lot of time and effort into the planning of my playlists and music.Ben Alldis
Bringing energy to the class from bell to bell, hoping to make my lesson the best a student has had that day, makes me a better teacher.
The Inclusiveness. Peloton continue to add new instructors to their line-up, including those who lead their classes in German and Spanish. Not only do they come to each lesson with a motivational and inspiring approach, but they are all highly trained and have impressive experience behind them. By celebrating the diverse backgrounds of their instructors and customers, Peloton has created an inclusive environment in which each participant in a class can feel like they belong. Just as you would expect from a school and its teachers, Peloton is committed to speaking up against systemic inequity and taking action toward becoming an anti-racist organization.
Celebrating each and every one of my students and embracing their unique backgrounds and experiences, makes me a better teacher.
The Planning. Each Peloton workout is immaculately planned and the structure of the class is revealed from the start. There’s a clear warm up, body of the class and a cool down. I know exactly what the class entails, I know the aim of the class, where the instructor hopes to take me and how we will get there together. At the end of the workout there is a summary, and acknowledgement of what we have achieved along with a reflection on how we feel afterwards. Now imagine how powerful it would be if every teacher taught students in that way.
Additionally, although the instructor calls out for me to lift a certain weight, hold a certain pose, or ride at a certain cadence and resistance, I am encouraged to work at the level that I feel best suits my needs. My favorite quote from Peloton’s Denis Morton certainly applies to my Physical Education classes, particularly when I am encouraging them to feel competent, confident and motivated:
I make suggestions, you make decisions.Denis Morton
Clearly articulated, well planned lessons that allow students some element of choice, make me a better teacher.
The Music. Peloton classes utilize the power of music to create motivational and memorable experiences and riders move in synchrony to the beat. In The Joy of Movement, Kelly McGonigal talks about GROOVE, the term used by musicologists to explain our instinct to move when we hear music. She writes that “For most people the impulse to synchronize our bodies to a beat is so strong, it takes effort to suppress it.”
With thoughtfully crafted playlists instructors tap into the power of motivational music. In Applying Music in Exercise and Sport Costas Karageorghis talks about the power of lyrics to motivate us to move. Song titles related to our activity, or that make reference to movement or heroic imagery can all “touch us emotionally or provide a source of affirmation”.
Peloton also provides you with the offer of adding your favorite songs to your Spotify or Apple playlists. Typically the songs I tag are the upbeat tracks, from the peak of my workout, when I’m lost in the music and forget how hard I’m working. Costas Karageorghis talks about finding power songs, songs that alter our mood and physiology, inspiring us to workout. In a Peloton class I’m feeling what Kelly McGonigal is referring to when she says:
The brain responds to music it enjoys with a powerful adrenaline, dopamine, and endorphin rush, all of which energize effort and alleviate pain. For this reason, musicologists describe music as ergogenic, or work-enhancing.Kelly McGonigal
The Sense of Community. The Peloton mantra is “Together we go far” and they work hard at instilling a sense of community. Although there can be a competitive side to Peloton classes if that’s what you are looking for, essentially we are all working out together. The ability to ‘high five’ other riders on the leaderboard is motivational, all the more so when it’s someone that you know, or are ‘following’ their profile (like on social media).
I’ve connected with other teachers from my PLN through Peloton classes and have ridden with many who I have met in person at conferences, and now also join them, on the leaderboard. I’ve also said hello to strangers in the street wearing Peloton branded clothing and chatted about favorite instructors, best workouts, and reasons for loving the classes in the way that we do.
Peloton listens to community feedback and lessons never feel regurgitated. ‘Themed’ classes add an extra element of motivation, so too does the added gamification element of collecting virtual badges to celebrate milestones or achieving community challenges.
In addition to instructors engaging with the community on social media, ‘shout outs’ from the instructors are another way in which a sense of community is instilled. People are acknowledged as much for their first workout as they are their thousandth. Birthdays are celebrated and community created hashtags are acknowledged. #PelotonTeachers is where I can find MY people.
Intentionally building relationships with my students and working continuously to instill a sense of community in my classes makes me a better teacher.
When you see life through the lens of a passionate educator, professional development opportunities are all around. I learn a lot from attending conferences, but I do also find motivation and inspiration from being around great educators….and for me, that can always be found on the other side of my Peloton screen!
If you are already a Peloton user, are we following each other? I’m on there as ‘SoSoulful’ (I could explain the name, but it’s a long story). Peloton have a great blog that you might also like to check out. I am not affiliated with Peloton, just a huge fan of their work, but if you are considering purchasing a Peloton, feel free to contact me to ask questions. I also have a code you can use to save yourself money. Let’s talk!
As I mentioned above, Peloton users have the option to ‘favorite’ any of the songs played in the workouts and they are stored on a designated Spotify or Apple playlist. If you’re interested, here are the songs that have caught my ear:
See you on the leaderboard!
If you liked this post, you might also like:
Moved by Music in which I talk at length about the music used in Peloton classes.