This post shows how to use a Schwinn IC4 Spin Bike to get a DIY Peloton workout. Includes supplies needed, how to get cadence and resistance measurements, and what apps are needed.
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Today and Thursday’s posts are some of my most requested ever! I’ve been showing my at-home DIY Peloton workouts for months on Instagram, and almost every time I do I get questions about my setup. Let me tell you – it is 100% possible to get a Peloton workout without paying the Peloton price.
A little bit of background: I mentioned in last week’s gym tour post that I’m a bit of a gym rat. I put daily workouts into my routine a couple of years ago, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. About a year ago, I discovered Peloton. I started doing the tread and bike workouts with the equipment at my gym and loved the energy and pace of the workouts. I’ve tried a lot (and I mean a LOT) of workout apps/programs – there’s no question this is the best one for me.
When the pandemic hit, my husband and I decided that going to a gym wasn’t going to be in the cards anytime soon – so we set out to put together our home gym. One of my priorities in our gym setup was a place to do the many workouts available on the Peloton app (treadmill, bike, strength training with weights, and yoga, just to name a few). We already had a treadmill, so that part was taken care of. I knew that I loved Peloton spin workouts, but just couldn’t pull the trigger on paying over $2000 for a piece of workout equipment (plus another $40 a month for the monthly membership). I loved it, but not quite that much. 🙂
So I started researching. I found the Peloton subreddit, which had several posts raving about the Schwinn IC4 as a lower-cost alternative to the Peloton. That led to the Schwinn IC4 Facebook group, which has taught me basically everything I’m putting in these posts. All credit goes to those geniuses! The IC4 has a similar magnetic resistance to the Peloton (making it both quiet and durable) and measures bike output (via cadence and resistance) in a similar way to the Peloton, sending that info to the device of your choice via bluetooth. The subreddit/group claimed that, with the right setup, there isn’t much this bike can’t do that the Peloton does. I was intrigued.
We got our bike in mid-May and, since then, I’ve done dozens of DIY Peloton workouts on this bike. And I can honestly say I don’t regret this purchase one bit – as a matter of fact, it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent!
There are a few small differences in the IC4 vs. a real Peloton – I’ll explain those a little bit more in my next post, but to sum it up, they are very minimal. Overall, you need to ask yourself if those differences are worth over $1000 extra and an extra $30 a month. To me, that answer is a huge no.
Let’s dive into how you can duplicate this DIY Peloton setup at home!
- Schwinn IC4 – $899 (note: I’ve linked to the Amazon listing here, but as of publish date, it’s not in stock very often. Keep checking back – they do restock once or twice a week. It’s also available at Dick’s Sporting Goods sometimes too. You can order directly from Schwinn, but the wait time is currently over a month…checking Amazon or Dick’s is quicker!)
- Spin Shoes – $99 (I love the ones linked – they’re a lower cost option and I’ve been really pleased with them. There are lots of options out there, just make sure they’re SPD-compatible.)
- A bluetooth-friendly tablet – around $200 (I use a generation 5 iPad that we’ve had for years – it’s not required, but I highly recommend an iPad for this, as a lot of the details I show on how to setup this system are based on Apple features.)
- Peloton app – $13 a month – ok, so this isn’t an entirely DIY Peloton setup. You have to at least have a Peloton app subscription for this to work! But it’s not expensive at all ($13 vs. $40 per month that you’d pay if you have the actual Peloton bike) and there are so many workouts available – trust me, you’ll never run out. I also love the metrics you get through the app!
- Kinetic app – free – This is how I see the metrics (cadence, resistance, output levels) from my ride. For some reason this app is free (I would totally pay for it if needed – it’s that good).
So, you can see that if you’re doing a DIY Peloton setup with the minimal amount of equipment, the entire set-up can be around $1000 – far less than the $2000+ you’re paying for just the Peloton.
Optional, But Recommended Equipment:
- Apple AirPods Pro – this was another purchase I made shortly after I bought the bike that has been so, so worth it. The pro version is the only one that’s sweat-resistant, so they’re the only ones I’d use for exercise. Again, AirPods aren’t required, but they work so well with Apple products and make it easier to connect everything in the set-up I’ll show you.
- AirPods Ear Hooks – the only complaint about the AirPods is that they tend to slip out of my ear when exercising – this was an easy fix!
- Streaming TV – we put a TV in our gym that allows us to watch TV while exercising or stream workouts from the iPad. Again, there are lots of options in this category – they only thing I’d recommend is to have a TV that features the ability to airplay. If you have a TV without airplay, there are other options available. Some people use a Chromecast, or there are apps that allow you to stream from an Apple product to a Roku/Fire TV.
- Treadmill of your choice – we have a Precor C956i, but really anything will work if you’re not buying a Peloton Tread. There aren’t really any options currently that allow you to send Peloton-like metrics from your treadmill to a bluetooth device – I’ll try to update this post if I hear of a way!
- Bowflex 552 Dumbbells – these are perfect for a small gym if you do Peloton’s strength workouts! Again, not in stock a lot right now, but you can find them if you check back often.
- Cooling towels – someone in a workout Facebook group recommended these and I love them! Very needed if you exercise in a hot garage.
- Yoga blocks – really the only required (in my opinion) item for a Peloton yoga class. There are some where straps or blankets are needed, but I’ve found you can make do with things you already have for those.
- Blueheart app on your phone – I’m kind of a metrics junkie, so I like to have my heart rate on both the Peloton and Kinetic apps. There’s no way to use the same heart rate monitor on both, so I use the armband that comes with the IC4 in the Peloton app and use my phone/Apple watch to hookup to the bike, sending my heart rate through to Kinetic. This is another free app that’s highly recommended! But this is definitely optional – if you just want to use one or the other, that’s more than enough.
Most of what I’m going to explain in this post is only possible through Apple products. The apps and features on Apple totally make this possible!
A little bit of housekeeping is important before you dive into the workouts. Since we really only use this older iPad for Peloton workouts, I put the Reminders app (more on that in a minute), the Peloton app, the Kinetic app, and the settings app in the bar at the bottom of the page. This allows for quick access to the apps I use the most.
You’ll need the following apps downloaded:
- Peloton (iPad)
- Kinetic (iPad)
- Reminders (already on iPad)
- Optional – Blueheart (iPhone)
Make sure all of the bluetooth components are connected to the apps where they’re needed. You’ll need to make sure…
- AirPods are connected to the iPad
- The IC4 and its accessory heart rate monitor are connected to the Peloton apps
- The IC4 is connected to the Kinetic app
- Optional – Blueheart (i.e. your phone) is connected via Bluetooth to your bike. You can do this by selecting “IC4” under the bluetooth settings in your phone.
Peloton Workout Organization
I use the Apple reminders app to build my workout plan for each week – that way, I don’t even have to think about what to do each morning. A quick look at how I do that…
First, make a new list in your Reminders app just for your workouts. Go on and put a bullet point for every day you’ll be exercising in that list.
Go to the Peloton app. When you’re looking at the workout in your Peloton app, click the button circled above.
A sharing screen will pop up. Click to share this workout to the Reminders app.
You can make notes about the workout as needed here (I usually don’t). Make sure the list under “Details” is the new one you just made for your workouts.
When you go back to your reminders app, your workout will now be on your list! Simple drag it to the desired day (drag it over the day to drop it in)…
…and you have a nice, organized, clickable list of your workouts for the week. You can click the links in the list to go directly to the Peloton workout. This takes me maybe 30 minutes a week and makes each morning much easier.
This is an actual look at my current weekly line-up. This includes my workouts in the Fitbod app as well (what I use for more targeted strength training a couple of times a week). The best part is that, as long as you connect an iPhone and an iPad via iCloud, this list will show on your iPad too, making it so easy to open your workout each day.
Setting Up Your DIY Peloton Bike
This is a process that’s going to vary for each and every person. No two bodies or bikes are the same – so, while my settings are a recommendation, you really need to calibrate your own bike!
The first (and easy) step is to adjust your seat and handlebars to your body size. The general recommendation is to set your seat height to the upper part of your hips when standing next to the bike, with your handlebars being the length from your elbow to fingertips away from your seat. If you want to get more accurate, you can measure your inseam to set your seat height.
Now – calibration. I said I’d talk about the differences between a Peloton and an IC4, and this is probably the biggest one. It *is* possible to get similar resistance levels, you’ll just need to see what those levels are on your bike. (And from my experience, almost every bike is a little different.)
First off, you want to make sure your bike is calibrated properly. You should be able to pedal very easily at a resistance of 0 (if not, make sure your brake isn’t still engaged from shipping by pushing your resistance knob down hard and pulling back up). Set your resistance to 0 and pedal at 50rpm – you should be going 5mph. Set the resistance to 25 and pedal at 75rpm – you should be going 23mph. If your readings are off, you might need to recalibrate (there’s lots of info on doing that if you google).
As long as that looks good, it’s time to figure out what your equivalent DIY Peloton resistance levels are!
Here’s how to measure your resistance levels…
- Open the Kinetic app, connect to your bike, and start a ride (so you’ll be able to see your output level and exact cadence).
- Use this chart to see what your output level should be at certain resistance levels. For example, this chart says that at a Peloton resistance of 30 and a cadence of 80rpm, my output number would be 61. Pedal at 80rpm and adjust resistance until you get an output of around 61…that’s the IC4 Resistance number that’s equivalent to 30 on a Peloton. For my bike, that’s a resistance of 5.
You’ll want a pen and paper handy to write down your numbers. I printed this out on card stock, put packing tape on either side to “laminate” it, and taped it to my bike for easy reference. You’ll eventually kind of learn the equivalent numbers, but this helps a lot at first! Again, you can use the numbers you see from my bike as a jumping off point, but almost every bike is different – I really recommend checking your resistance yourself.
Ok – this was supposed to be one big post, but I went WAY overboard on details, so I decided to split it into two posts! The second part of this DIY Peloton How-To (including how to actually setup a workout and my pros/cons of having this setup vs a Peloton) can be found here.
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