You Zwift? How you can participate in the online fitness explosion
This is hardly a surprise to triathletes – as our world locked in March 2020, more and more people found themselves looking for ways to train. The triathletes, who were already avid fans of the Zwift platform, did the same, mocking themselves when they met someone new on the platform who raves about it. new indoor cycling program called Zwift.
In July 2020, Zwift reported that the platform’s popularity had doubled since the start of the pandemic, with more than 35,000 users on the app during peak hours. (As of February 2021, that number had risen to 45,000.) According to a Calgary Journal report, engagement increased 79% during the year. As athletes sought home fitness opportunities during the pandemic, Zwift’s growth continued. The company received a huge funding boost in September 2020, raising US $ 450 million in a funding round that saw Amazon and Specialized Bicycles jump into the mix. Zwift does not share their numbers, but in an interview with Forbes in February, Min was prepared to say that the company had doubled in size from the previous year and that there were more than three million accounts created on the platform, with “hundreds of thousands of customers using Zwift every day.
It has become so popular that many triathletes now call their indoor workouts “zwifting”.
I still remember the first time I saw Zwift in action. It was at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in 2015 and I was asked to check out the Zwift screen. I met the CEO of Zwift and one of the founders of the company, Eric Min, himself an avid cyclist. The ‘game’ component of the platform was a bit lost to me at the time, but since then I have realized that it is this component of the platform that sets Zwift apart from other riding programs. in theaters back then (Computrainer’s Interactive Real Course Videos), and has helped make it so popular today. Gamification – collecting badges and exploring routes and competitions – has helped fuel the company’s enormous growth.
While Zwift somewhat replicates the outdoor driving experience, that was never the goal of Min and the rest of the Zwift developers.
“We’re not trying to fake it, but we bring in some of those elements, but we want to create our own unique experience, ”Min told Forbes magazine.
Since my first look at Zwift in Kona, the company has come up with plenty of other ways to engage in the program – steering and mountain biking – that seems to offer triathletes a similar appeal to my son’s for video games that I did. ‘they’ have long been addicted. Add to that the Esports component of Zwift and the program gains even more legitimacy as a viable competitive platform, which makes even more sense as a training tool. Unlike other popular Esports games, Zwift is very physical. It has been recognized as a discipline by World Cycling, and professional triathletes have taken part in a number of Zwift events this past winter, including cycling and duathlon events.
The platform also helped fuel the global shortage of smart sneakers for much of last winter. The athletes were so keen on “zwift” power that they grabbed any available trainers they could find just so they could join their friends for practice and races.
But will this demand continue? When Peloton slashed the price of its lowest-end bike, its inventory actually fell, with investors wondering if the indoor fitness boom fueled by the pandemic would continue. Zwift, however, has such a base of cyclists and triathletes that it’s hard to imagine these folks will not both continue with the platform and encourage more to join them. Two of the athletes with the most followers on the platform, Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders, serve as role models for triathletes who see that it is possible to do a great workout on the platform and avoid having to deal with cars on the road. What about our long Canadian winters? “Zwifting” is a great way to maintain the fitness of the bike in winter.
It has been rumored for some time that Zwift will also enter the hardware realm, which will add another interesting twist to the platform’s growth as the company enters the same market that Peloton currently dominates.
More indoor fitness platforms take off
In late fall, there was a lot of buzz in the Canadian fitness media about the upcoming arrival of Lululemon’s Mirror and the variety of online fitness classes the company would be offering through its service. ‘subscription.
Over the past year, however, we’ve had the opportunity to check out other platforms that are definitely here to stay – Apple’s Fitness + and, of course, the popular Peloton bike and associated subscription service.
Apple Fitness +
Fitness + lets you train at home with the guidance and inspiration of its certified trainers. With your Apple Watch and a screen you can connect with (iPhone or iPad) and you can use the program anywhere you want. New workouts are added regularly, and the huge program library includes cycling, yoga, strength and core programs, high intensity workouts, treadmill and rowing classes, and more. . You can find sessions as short as five minutes, so you’ll always find something that will work no matter how busy you are. Since Apple owns the rights to pretty much all of the music, the classes include great soundtracks and motivating, knowledgeable instructors.
REVIEW: Apple Dives into Exercise Programs with Fitness +
We played with the company’s Bike + for a few months and were pleasantly surprised at how well the equipment and workouts work even for the most serious triathletes. Fans of spin lessons will feel particularly comfortable on the Peloton bike. The workout content library is extensive and Peloton makes it easy to take a 20 minute FTP test to determine your training zones to get the most out of your workout. As with Zwift, your hard work pays off, which will help you stay motivated. The added bonus with the Peloton is that it’s easy to turn the screen and take the strength training and core classes that are part of the Peloton program. For those looking for a simple solution to training at home – no bike setup, etc., the Peloton is worth checking out.
Does Peloton Bike work for triathletes?
This story originally appeared in the November / December issue of Triathlon Canada Magazine