We take the Echelon bike for a spin to see if it beats the gym – and Peloton

ECHELON is the affordable alternative to workout-from-home market leaders Peloton, but can they replace your gym membership?

Gyms are open and the weather is finally taking a turn for the better but many Brits are electing to keep their workouts homebound.

Three in ten Brits bought home exercise gear during lockdown, according to Mintel.

And top of the list are spin bikes – thanks to Peloton. Problem is they are quite pricey.

Rival Echelon reckons they are just as good and the bike is half the price.

Here, Andrea Smith, of east London, gives the Echelon a spin – and sees how it shapes up for value compared to Peloton and your local gym.

When it comes to workouts, I’m just in it to burn calories so I can eat more chocolate.

I mainly run because I can burn over 300 calories in just 30 mins and I get nowhere near that doing weights, yoga, or a workout video.

I hate running when the weather is bad so I got a gym membership but obviously this was no good to me since the pandemic hit.

I heard cycling was a good calorie burner but a Peleton bike seemed pricey, from £1,750 for the bike plus £39 a month for classes – not to mention the special cycling shoes you’ll need.

Echelon bikes start at £799 plus a £39.99 monthly fee. 

You’ll just need to provide your own screen via a tablet or phone but you can wear regular trainers which was a plus for me.

I tested the Smart Connect EX3 bike – Echelon’s mid-tier at £1,199.

Right now you can get £100 off with the code SUMMER100 making it just £1,099.

Echelon’s monthly fee is £5 more than my local gym. But I only ever went there to use the treadmill when it was raining so I got much more out of the bike.

Delivery is £99.99 and it takes an hour to build. By comparison, Peleton’s bikes come with free shipping and installation.

My friend just got a Peleton and it definitely looks like it costs twice as much – it's very sleek whereas the Echelon is sporty.

The Echelon app gives access to thousands of cycling classes – live or on demand – and there are plenty of non-bike classes like yoga, kickboxing and Zumba.

That said, once I started the cycling classes I was hooked and had to force myself to get off the bike and try the other workouts.

The Fitpass section of the app is where you can find loads of off-the-bike classes like yoga, pilates, HIIT, kickboxing and tuition for stretching afterrides.

There is a huge range of bike classes as well and the classes are regularly updated so you will never get bored.

And now Echelon has added UK instructors for live and on demand classes for when you need a break from all the American accents.

There’s everything from laidback low impact rides to high octane Tabata style workouts.

Boot Camp rides combine time on the bike with strength training off the bike which makes the workout fly by.

This week I did a class that was dedicated to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album and it was one of my favourites. 

The instructor, Dani Dellarco, played through the album and explained how each song impacted her life as she pushed us up hills and to high speeds – it was both inspiring and exhausting.

My only major problem with the app is the clunky Apple Watch integration via third party app Blueheart. When connected, it is an accurate measure of your heart rate – and lets you record your workout on your Watch. But it wouldn’t connect about one in four times and I had to restart everything. This ought to be simple and quick on an app costing £39.99 a month.

Fitbit and Strava users can connect Echelon to their accounts to keep track of workouts but there is no device connectivity like there is with Apple Watch.

The live classes are fun – and competing with others on the leaderboard was a wonderful motivator.

I kept seeing the same person just ahead of me during morning rides and I peddled harder to catch her.

So, thanks for the extra chocolate I can now eat, RCNavyGirl.

I have to say, I did get quite a boost the odd times I heard the instructor shout out my name during class.

Scenic rides, generally without an instructor, are great when you want to zone out and go at your own pace while riding through exotic locations.

Best of all – the Echelon was right there in my living room staring me in the face every day.

I had no excuse not to find at least 20 minutes to break a sweat. 

I was on the bike pretty much every single morning.

Even if I didn’t feel like working out it was easy enough to convince myself to walk over and jump on.

It’s easy to skip the gym because you’re too busy to commute there.

There’s also the added faff of lockers and worrying that people haven’t cleaned the machines properly.

It’s even easier to skip a run because it’s raining – I would have only managed a handful of runs this month.

The Echelon monthly membership fee is about the same as my gym membership, but I did much more exercise over the month with Echelon. If you are a family – maybe parents and kids who would use it – or a shared house you can really get value for money for the £39.99. I think also for couples it's not bad too – even though my husband didn't use it as much as I did. But there should be cheaper price for just one user.

Of course you have to factor in the cost of the bike.

The EX3 at £1,190 financed with Klarna is £93.29 per month including the membership for the first two years.

With the cheaper Echelon Sport bike that would come down to £73.29.

That’s quite a bit more than £44 per month at Fitness First, but compared to the £129.99 monthly fee at a luxury gym like Virgin Active it’s not bad.

And you’ll definitely work out more with Echelon.

If you’re really into badminton or bodybuilding with the weight machines then you might find an Echelon-only workout plan limited.

If you’re like me and your main goal is to stay in shape – Echelon can easily replace your gym membership.

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