Peloton Adds a Bunch of New Features Amidst Tread+ Turmoil

Peloton Adds a Bunch of New Features Amidst Tread+ Turmoil
A new Strive Score uses data from a Bluetooth heart rate monitor to help you measure your progress. (Image: Peloton)

Peloton saw stratospheric success throughout the pandemic as the at-home fitness service to beat thanks to its popular Bike and Bike+. But in recent weeks, the company has lost a bit of its lustre due to complaints from regulators and consumer advocacy organisations that the company hasn’t properly responded to accidents and injuries caused by its Tread+ treadmill. Now, Peloton is gathering its members together for its annual Homecoming event (this year a virtual one) to regroup with themed rides, talks, and the launch of new features. What remains to be seen? Whether the company will assuage those Tread+ concerns.

During a keynote speech Friday morning, Peloton CEO John Foley announced several new features for both app users and Bike/Tread owners — if my time spent researching Peloton to review the Bike+ taught me anything, it’s that Peloton users have a long list of feature requests. Many of them have now been realised.

Here’s a rundown of what’s coming:

  • A Pause button. This may sound small, but the ability to pause an on-demand class to grab a water bottle or, say, accidentally dislodge your AirPod mid-ride, is a blessing.
  • Instructor-led scenic rides and runs. This is an interesting move, given that instructor-led outdoor classes are a huge selling point for rival on-demand fitness company NordicTrack. Now you can jog or ride along with your favourite Peloton instructors in locations like Big Sur, Hawaii, and New Mexico. Unlike NordicTrack, you’ll still get the curated playlists users have come to know and love from Peloton’s instructors. (The refreshed scenic content also includes time- and distance-based runs and rides sans instructor, but also with music.)
  • A Strive Score. The new “non-competitive” metric is designed to use a Bluetooth heart rate monitor you connect to your device — either a Bike, Tread, or just integrated with the Peloton app — to come up with a personal score that can help you gauge your progress across all classes. The score is based on how much time you spend in each heart rate zone, so it’s incredibly personal to you. This sounds like it’ll be particularly useful for app users, who can’t see the leaderboard that Bike and Tread owners do.
  • A redesigned Programs interface. Peloton is now integrating its strength-training programs, like a four-week series to crush your core, with its scheduling feature, so you can easily plan your training. The classes are designed to be taken in order for maximum results. New programs are still in development, so Peloton users who’ve already taken the existing ones probably won’t benefit much (unless you want to crush your core again, in which case, by all means). You’ll also be able to earn badges for each program, which is a motivator for those who like the gamified element of badge-hunting.
  • Target metrics for Tread and Tread+. A feature that has long existed on Peloton’s Bike is now coming to its treadmills. Users will be able to see a speed and incline range to hit for on-demand classes, instead of the “run at whatever pace you consider a run to be” vibe of previous Tread classes.
Now you can take outdoor rides with your favourite Peloton instructors. (Image: Peloton) Now you can take outdoor rides with your favourite Peloton instructors. (Image: Peloton)

I’m most intrigued by the instructor-led scenic rides and runs, which seem like a straight shot across the bow at Peloton’s rivals.

All of these features are rolling out starting today, so you should see them on your Bike, Bike+, Tread, Tread+, and the Peloton app in the coming days.

Foley didn’t remark on the recent dust-up over Tread+ during his keynote, and it seems unlikely that any of the rest of the Homecoming program will touch on the issues. Peloton may be hoping that if it satisfies its devoted users with the introduction of long-demanded features, that its reputation will survive the recent hit — and it might just work.