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Thanks to Zwift and Peloton’s contributions to indoor cycling and virtual reality, we have even more motivation to sweat it out in the ‘comfort’ of our homes. If you’re reading this article, these two apps are probably not strangers to you.
To many, Zwift and Peloton are probably two of the best indoor cycling apps available and for very good reasons.
Both platforms come with a variety of engaging entertainment, challenging cycling workouts, and some community events to help keep you going when you have to remain indoors. These offer significant improvements for what was once a pretty boring indoor trainer.
While the two platforms share many things in common, they are also separated by some key features.
In this article, we will place these two platforms side by side and help you decide which one is best for you.
Table of Contents
What is Zwift?
If you’re a serious cyclist, then you’ll probably consider Zwift as by far the most popular indoor cycling training platform or virtual reality.
This turbo trainer game allows you to ride with other cyclists in a virtual or online environment. You can hook up your trainer and pedal along its impressively designed virtual streets whenever you have the time.
It also comes with different group workout rides that are designed to cater to all levels of fitness, and these are scheduled throughout the day and night.
2014 witnessed the first launch of Zwift’s virtual Watopia roads, and the platform has gone on to attract over a million subscribers.
What is Peloton?
If you’re new to Peloton, you’ll probably think it is just an overpriced workout bike, and you wouldn’t be the only one. But that is a common, and partial, misconception.
However, the good news is that Peloton now has an affordable exercise app (Peloton Digital) that you can use to work on your fitness at home.
Did you know you can use Peloton Digital without needing to purchase a Peloton bike?
That is, if you already own a bike. If you have a thing for gaming, you can use the Peloton digital app on your bike.
Key Features of Zwift
One of the main features of Zwift that has made the app so popular is its daily and weekly events, backed by the fact that Zwift has a massive community or support base.
You can participate in group rides at any time of the day for as many days as you want.
Zwift comes with nine different apps, including popular ones such as:
- Zwift’s Watopia world
The maps contain different riding routes, with hillier, flat, longer, and shorter routes to choose from. You can also opt for shorter rise distances, compete in various events, and win badges for each completion or achievement.
There are also rewards for completing some miles in a single indoor ride or smashing about 1,000 watts in a single sprint.
When it comes to setup, Zwift’s platform has made structured training pretty simple. You have the option of using your TV, laptop, tablet, or even smartphone. And speaking of structured training, the Zwift platform’s exercise builder makes it possible for you or your trainer to create workout sessions that suit you.
Alternatively, you can also opt for workout sessions already designed by other professional trainers or take advantage of a group workout mode to join other riders to train at the same intensity level.
If you want to take your virtual riding experience to another level, you can connect a smart turbo trainer to your platform.
You can also select modes that provide harder resistance, like climbing uphill, making it harder to pedal. You can go downhill for a more relaxing riding experience as well.
If you’re running on a tight budget, you can pair a standard turbo trainer with a cadence sensor and Bluetooth speed.
Zwift uses an estimated power curve to translate speed into watts.
Key Features of Peloton
Pelotons training app comes with a variety of live exercise classes that you take part in everyday.
One great thing about these exercises is that they cover almost every aspect of your fitness goals.
The platform isn’t limited to riding exercise only; you can also participate in:
- Strength exercises
- Cardio exercises
- Running activities
If you’re lacking in motivation, you can count on several experienced instructors on the platform to grill you through a professional session. Plus, you can also take advantage of the Peloton classes’ upbeat tunes to get your adrenaline pumping.
The platform offers you something similar to a real professional gym experience, with guidance, encouragement, and clear instructions from the experienced instructors.
Another great feature about this platform is that each instructor can tailor their sessions to suit each rider’s fitness or experience level. That means the workout sessions are never too difficult or too easy.
Plus, because the platform allows for interaction, you will not feel alone even if you’re working out in your bedroom. That may not sound the most ideal to some riders, but it can easily be the difference between seeing a challenging workout through or giving up mid-flight.
As we mentioned earlier, there are different classes available to choose from. When scrolling through the class schedules, you will notice that each class instructor is listed clearly.
That is done to make it easy for you to choose the right instructor to help you achieve your fitness goals. A good workout session isn’t always about breaking some sweat and calling it a day.
Peloton’s live exercise sessions are great, especially because you get to see your instructor on your screen to give you some form of human feel or connection. Even greater is the fact that if time constraints make it impossible to make it for a live workout session, you can easily follow and watch an archived video exercise at your convenience.
There are currently well over 12,000 archived videos to choose from.
Which Is Ideal For You?
Whether Zwift or Peloton, making the right choice will depend on the type of fitness or cycling needs you have and the goals you’re trying to achieve:
- Interaction: Both platforms make it possible to interact with other users. With Zwift for example, you can message others instantly through its companion app. All you need to do is add a phone mount to your handlebars, and you’re good to go.
Peloton offers a different kind of interaction. Unlike Zwift, you can see your instructor’s face and hear their voice, instead of just the avatars provided on Zwift. So, if you’re looking for a human touch, Peloton offers that.
- Cycling workout quality: Zwift takes a comfortable lead when it comes to high-quality, all-encompassing cycling workouts, ideal for different levels of fitness and cycling experience. There are a wide number of training plans to choose from, all designed by professionals like Chris Carmichael and Marco Pinotti (former Italian national time-trial champion). The workout duration also varies, making it very easy to select the ones that suit you. Each workout is very easy to follow, as the structure is displayed on your screen’s leftside.
Peloton offers less technical workout sessions, although you can still benefit from very intensive workouts that are sure to leave you drenched. Plus, it also provides greater motivation to see your activities through your instructors’ help. Most experts believe Peloton is ideal for building your core and speed.
- Variety: Variety is the spice of the workout world and is also key to maintaining your interest. Zwift offers so many riding routes to choose from, with corresponding badges. Each route also offers different events with intensity and difficulty levels. Unfortunately, they’re all limited to cycling.
On the other hand, Peloton offers a mix of different workouts beyond cycling. For example, even if you do not have a bike, you can still benefit from yoga and meditation sessions, offering a wholesome workout experience. But if you’re only interested in cycling, Zwift has you fully covered.
- What you’ll need: As we mentioned earlier, you can use the Peloton platform even if you don’t have an indoor bike. The platform works well on TVs, computers, tablets, or smartphones. For Zwift however, you’ll need a bike, your device and a trainer. Most people use standard road bikes, but smart bikes or mountain bikes can work pretty well too.
Zwift app will cost you $14.99 every month, equivalent to £12.99 per month.
Peloton app costs $14.99 per month, which is also the equivalent of £12.99, with a 30-day free trial.
In conclusion, although both platforms have a lot in common, they excel at different things after a closer look.
If you’re looking for the best app for you, it is best not to focus on which app has the best cycling sessions, as both platforms will improve your fitness. Instead, pay attention to both apps’ features and which ones are more in tune with your unique needs.
For example, if you want to test your mettle against other cyclists, you can opt for Zwift, but if you’re looking for something more holistic, consider Peloton.