Testing Peloton, Echelon, Mirror and SoulCycle: The Pros and Cons of Smart Gym Gear

The pandemic convinced me: At-home fitness is the future. After the Great Reopening, I will continue to work out in my living room, because I love it.

Why? The convenience, the affordability and the quality of training. Whether I’m at home or traveling, working out for 15 minutes or 45, this certainly beats what I was doing before: fighting for a spot in a boot camp class, and paying too much for the privilege.

I’ve already written about my favorite fitness apps and DIY stationary bike setup. Recently I’ve wondered, since hybrid work will still have us working—and working out—from home: Should I take my living-room workouts to the next level with higher-end connected equipment?

In a quest to learn something about why people spend thousands of dollars on equipment, and hundreds more per year for streamed workouts, I set up a smart gym: a SoulCycle At-Home bike ($2,500), a Mirror workout screen ($1,495) and an Echelon Stride treadmill ($1,300). Meanwhile, my colleague Joanna Stern has been testing Peloton Interactive ’s upcoming Tread ($2,495, on sale May 27).

Internet-connected hardware adds to the experience in a few ways. Products typically have a big display designed to stream classes. Personal workout metrics, captured by sensors, are displayed on-screen. Many have a social component, such as the ability to compete on a live leaderboard. All of the models I tested require customers to sign up for a $40-a-month membership.

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