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We tried and tested the Echelon EX3 Smart Connect Bike to see how it compares to an IRL spin class.
Over recent years the at-home digital fitness world has boomed. We’ve seen celebs and celebrity trainers releasing programs that you can do in the comfort of your living room. We’ve seen the rise of at-home gym equipment and in the latest wave we’ve seen smart technology enter our homes taking our workouts to new high-tech levels, giving us studio results without us having to step foot into a gym.
This week the Echelon EX3 Smart Connect Bike has landed on Aussie shores, signalling this new frontier in digital fitness Down Under.
How this bike differs from other exercise bikes on the market is the “smart” part. When you purchase a bike, you purchase the whole Echelon world. The bike connects via bluetooth with the Echelon Fit App that you download onto a phone or tablet, offering you a range of live classes as well as pre-recorded classes (16 live classes daily plus more than 3500 on demand classes to be exact) – giving you professionally trained spin instructors when you want them. It also makes you part of a community. You get to know teachers and other riders – something people often say is missing from at-home exercise.
Over a two week period, we trailed the bike and joined the Echelon family to see just how good it really is. Here’s everything you need to know:
Firstly let’s start with the practical things. I received the bike already assembled but from overseas reviews, it doesn’t look like the assembly is too hard. As the bike comes with wheels on the base it was also surprisingly easy to move from room to room, if you need to hide it or need a change of scenery for your next workout.
I’m no bike connoisseur but I have done spin classes on and off for years so know that when it comes to bikes, a comfy seat is key – no one likes a sore butt after 55 mins of intervals. Thankfully the Echelon bike seat has adequate padding and over the two weeks of riding I never noticed my bum getting sore so that’s a massive thumbs up. Adjusting seat height was also a cinch and the resistance knob turned smoothly.
Keen to get riding? Body + Soul readers currently get a FREE armband heart rate monitor, valued at $149.95, with all EX3 Bike purchases from now until October 7th. Simply add the ArmBand Heart Rate Monitor to your cart with the bike and use the discount code: EC-NC5 at checkout. Head to the website here.
The Echelon Fit App
To get riding, you need to download and sign up to the Echelon Fit App. This app is a treasure trove of spin workouts (you choose one depending on your music preference, class styles and based on how long you want to workout for) as well as off-bike workouts such as barre classes and stretch sessions, which I loved for days when I wanted a break from spinning.
For my first ride, I plugged in the bike – you need to position it near a power point – choose a workout on my phone (Fusion 45 – Dance Party!) and started riding. There is a section on the bike for you to attach your tablet or you have the ability to hook up the app via chromecast to your TV to get your workout on a big screen. I just used my phone and that was totally fine.
During the ride you are privy to so much data. You see your cadence (revolutions per minute), resistance level (one to 32) and output, which is a combination of your resistance and cadence, on your screen. I found this made it easy to follow the instructions from your spin teacher, which lead to a really great workout. There is also a leader board so you can see how your workout compares to other riders who are part of the network – which at times is terrifying especially when you come in at 236th place!
Oh and if that’s not enough you can also hook up a heart rate monitor.
At the end of the class, you receive your average cadence, output and resistance along with calories burnt. This is then stored in the ‘progress’ section of the app so you can see and track how you are doing.
The great thing is you can also hide all the data from your screen. One morning, I did a virtual scenic ride through the Andorra Mountains that border Spain and France. I forgot about times, cadence and leaderboards and just watched the view as I peddled along – it was super meditative and a nice way to start my day.
If you’re new to spinning, there are heaps of beginner videos to help you get acquainted with the bike and moves performed in classes, making it a perfect investment for anyone no matter your fitness level or experience.
It found it was also all about experimenting, I thought I’d be a sucker for classes with boy band and 90s pop playlists but I found I gravitated to power classes, especially ones run by an instructor named Dallas Jones. They were short (only 20 mins) but speed and power focussed so I was sweating, breathless and panting by the end.
I loved it! I found it particularly good for me as I have two kids and work full time so find it hard to get to the gym. With the bike literally right there, I could easily find time to put a workout in my day. Especially loved that some workouts were only 20 mins on very busy days. I sadly have to return the bike, but if I had one to keep I’d like to have the space to house it. At the moment it’s in my living room which is kinda annoying, so I recommend those buying it, set aside a dedicated space for it.
What surprised me the most was that I did work really hard, I think sometimes at home you can go a little easier (well, maybe that’s just me) because no one is watching, but I found the instructors were really good at motivating you to perform at your best.
I didn’t immerse myself in the community as much as one could, for me it was about finding a workout that is time efficient and effective, rather than the social aspects. I also didn’t do any of the live classes but I can imagine that they would be a great way to feel part of something bigger.
The initial outlay is $2058.95 for the bike and one month of the app – and on top of that you need to pay for a monthly membership fee for access to the app. But the app offers workouts other than just on-bike ones, so you can find other classes to do on days when you just don’t feel like spinning. It offers a holistic approach to fitness.
Another thing to note is that the bike is BYO device – I loved using my phone but having a tablet or setting it up with your TV via chromecast would just make the experience even better.
The company has launched with three Echelon EX3 Connect Smart Bike and App Membership plans in Australia. Starting from $2058.95 + $99.95 delivery fee for the bike and one month of access to the Echelon App. Head here for more information.
There are also finance options available via Zip Money, so you can “ride now and pay later”, with up to 24 months interest free on bike purchases. Check it all out on the website.
And for a special treat for Body + Soul online readers, when you buy an Echelon EX3 Connect Smart Bike between now and October 7th, 2020, you get a FREE Echelon Armband Heart Rate Monitor, valued at $149.95. Simply add the heart rate monitor to your cart with the bike and use the discount code EC-NC5 at checkout.
All products featured in this article are selected by our editors, who don’t play favourites. If you buy something, we may get a cut of the sale.