Pedalling my way through the pandemic
How my Peloton bike has helped me stay on the right track during Covid...
You won’t be surprised to know that I’ve always been a great believer of our slogan “don’t look for happiness, create it”, but Covid has brought about new obstacles to creating happiness that perhaps none of us have been prepared for.
As we enter our next phase of “lockdown”, I’m sitting in bed reflecting on the past eight months and the emotional curve I’ve been through and it struck me that there’s been one thing that’s really helped me maintain (for the majority of time) my energy, optimism and focus...
Exercise! Or more specially, my Peloton bike and all the many classes it has to offer!
So what is it about Peloton that’s helped me and are there any clues for not just surviving but thriving during Covid and for staying sane during this next lockdown?
Here’s a few reasons why I think it’s helped:
1. A daily release of happiness chemicals
Recently our dear friend and happiness guru Kathryn Temple posted this graphic on Facebook, which served as a great reminder that even in tough times*, there are simple things we can do to create happiness.
*Whatever the cause of the “tough is” - for me it’s being super busy and having to work remotely and more digitally!
The serotonin fix from cycling definitely helps stabilise my mood (which as my husband will tell you and as a peri-menopausal woman, I need all the help I can get with that!!!). The endorphin kick helps get rid of not just hormonal headaches at the moment but also the side effects of digital fatigue from spending all day on the laptop and Zoom.
I’m lucky to have access to Peloton as it makes fun and challenging exercise really accessible - reducing one of the excuses that can often get in the way of exercise.
Realising the buzz I get from the release of all the happiness chemicals and the impact it has on my mental and physical well-being, I'm hooked. The pay-off for investing the time is worth it as I’ve noticed significant improvements to my physical, mental and emotional energy - and my ability to renew them even after a really tough, long day! Of course, walking the dogs every morning and cuddling them at night also helps by the way!
What can you do more of to release these happiness chemicals?
2. Building positive habits (thanks to some simple but effective behavioural economics through gamification)
Building on point 1, the happiness chemicals released from doing Peloton classes are increased further by the inclusion of a reward mechanism that’s helped me make jumping on the Peloton at least 6 days a week a habit. The dopamine fix is VERY addictive - for me anyway!
The app tracks your progress and positively reinforces your achievements to keep you going and striving for more.
Special achievement badges are awarded at various stages (I got my 200th ride and 100th strength class achievement badges yesterday which felt amazing) and for completing special classes (I loved the Black History Month rides especially a 30 min HIIT class to Emeli Sandè music).
You get a positive “well done” message sent to your phone at the end of every class and an update of your progress, which I personally find really motivating! Even after long digital days at work and when I’ve felt a bit rough, I’ve still been motivated to get on the bike - because the reward is worth it.
3. A sense of belonging (feeling part of a community of positive like-minded people who share similar goals)
Peloton has done a great job creating a community of over 3.1 million members worldwide. I certainly don’t tap into all the features that their online community offers via the app and social media, but I do enjoy the sense of riding with others.
You get a real dopamine and oxytocin release when fellow riders give you a virtual “high five” during a ride and you “feel the love”.
While you might be stuck at home cycling alone, you certainly don’t feel like it when you see thousands of other riders based all around the world going through the same class!
The concept of “meaningful membership” and personalisation is powerful too here - and it’s very clever - you have your own profile, you get personalised messages and content sent on special occasions such as your birthday and the thrill of getting a “shout out” from your favourite instructor helps you feel recognised, valued... or perhaps just like a star-struck teenager?! Whatever it is... it works for me!
4. A sense of achievement
More than the immediate dopamine hit you get during and after each class, the longer term sense of achievement for me has been powerful.
Having been training for nearly eight months, I’m finally starting to see the results for myself... not just on the screen and in my “FTP” fitness test results.
Being able to track your progress and analyse your own performance in Peloton is really great - especially if you like data. For me, I’m motivated when I see my output zones increasing and feel stronger in classes, producing more output. Truthfully though, I feel more sense of achievement when I realise my cycling shorts are getting a bit looser but hey, each to their own.
Considering my neck injury nearly meant I couldn’t exercise properly ever again, the fact I’m now excising 6 times a week and able to start integrating weight training again, gives me a real sense of achievement that makes me want to carry on and keep at it!
Riding to your favourite music blasting out, “groove rides” when you want to work up a sweat and dance like nobody’s watching (lucky only the dogs get to watch me on Peloton), boot camp classes that make you cry with pain and laughter together and a slightly mad core strength workout to Dolly Parton... one thing guaranteed is fun!
Endorphins buzzing around your body feels great. Even the hardest rides start and end with a big smile. Having fun is key for me when choosing to invest my precious time into something “just for me”. I always say that laughter is my tonic and combined with exercise, it really is!
So, those are my reflections on my Peloton passion and why it’s become my new best friend.
I’ve always enjoyed and benefited from exercise as a way to renew and fuel my energy, so Peloton was perhaps an obvious choice for my “lockdown survival kit”.
But as you now know, there are many other ways to release those all important “happiness chemicals”. The trick is to find something that you enjoy, that you have passion for... and something that you can easily integrate into your lockdown routines.
So what’s your “peloton” and how will you continue to create happiness, even during these challenging Covid times?
Don’t forget to look out for our new “happy people campaign” which will help reveal even more stories of how people have found ways to create happiness for themselves, their colleagues, their customers and the communities they serve.
Together we can spread happiness.
Stay safe, stay happy.
Much happiness, from Helen & everyone at Team Happy
(Disclaimer: I should add that I don’t work for Peloton and will not, sadly, receive any fee for promoting them! I should also acknowledge that Peloton isn’t for everyone and isn’t the cheapest form of exercise on the market. The idea here is to take inspiration from Peloton and find something that works for you.)