Echelon EX3 Connect
With our own lockdown story becoming more about cake than cardio, fitness company Echelon’s offer to trial their EX3 Connect home spin bike could not have been better timed! 
The lockdown period meant that many of us have equipped our homes with whatever gym equipment we could get our hands on and with gyms only just opening,  many of them by appointment or booking only, new ways to work out will be on the top of every fitness fans agenda.

We’d heard of the concept of home spin bikes and have friends who preach about the benefits, but we didn’t really get the concept or think it would be for us. The Echelon EX3 Connect bike is a home spin bike that comes backed up with a live streaming exercise app with a variety of classes pretty much every hour on the hour. There’s also over 4000 on demand classes that include a mixture of HIIT rides, hill climbs, yoga and stretch classes and even virtual rides across some of the world’s most stunning cycle routes to enjoy.

Building the bike is a two-person job – it’s heavy!

Connecting the bike and the app though is easy. Simply download from the app store to a tablet or your phone and press the bike’s big Echelon button to connect the bike to the app. From here every action on the bike is logged on the app giving you live reports on your ride. From your speed, resistance levels and total number of calories burned, everything is reported live to the screen in front of you and overlaid on to your class so you can see your workout results as you watch your instructor. There’s also a live leader board for each class so you can track your progress and compete against users across the world.

I was unsure at first as to whether this virtual spin class concept would work for me but having used the bike there are some major benefits compared to a class at a gym.

For me just being able to ride whenever i want or can is huge – scheduling time out can be tricky, and I’ve lost count of how many classes I’ve had to miss when work has overrun. With the Echelon bike I can grab a twenty- minute ride before lunch or a zoom meet, have a longer 45-minute ride before dinner or grab one before bed or breakfast the next day. You can choose the class that’s perfect for you at that time – so if you want to do a twenty five minute ride to some seventies disco classics that focuses on hill climbs, the app lets you drill down to find it!

You can even choose your preferred instructor so you can ride your way whenever you want! It’s also great for those that don’t enjoy the competitiveness of group classes – here you’re on your own in your own space so no need to feel embarrassed – you can even switch off the leader board if you don’t want to see it. The Echelon bike lets you exercise how you want to exercise and it’s very, very addictive…

You experience a definite post ride high.

We soon found ourselves looking forward to when we could get our next ride. It even got to the point of us completing multiple classes a day! The results of riding are also already speaking for themselves. Better posture, feeling firmer, happier, healthier, and thinner- we are definitely working off all of that lemon drizzle cake big time!

Don’t be fooled by my calorie count above – you need to out all your stats in to get full workout results!

There must be some negatives?

Well spin bikes are not cheap. The Echelon EX3 Connect costs £1238.99 including access to the app and all of the classes for the first month. Hereafter there is a monthly subscription for all classes of £39.99 although you can get this cheaper if you prepay for a year and there are options to buy the bike and the discounted prepaid subscription on zero interest finance which makes the monthly cost of use equivalent to a gym membership for one- the Echelon allows you to add up to five users with one account.  The EX3 Connect is significantly cheaper than its main competitor the Peloton bike, mainly because you use your own tablet for the Echelon whereas the Peloton has a dedicated screen. The main negative for us was the lack of integration with an Apple Watch for exercise tracking and heart rate monitoring – I hate duplicating technology so don’t want to buy an extra heart rate monitor when I have one on my watch already. Apparently it does work with a Fitbit but I don’t have a Fitbit so that’s little help to me.

The other slight moan we have is some of the music is very, very American. I find music motivational when working out – it is amazing what extra energy I can find when listening to Years and Years, but there are some really quirky song selections on some classes.  Soft rock and country classics do not relate well to European tastes and i have ended a few classes early due to the soundtrack. The app does give you the option to search classes by music style which is handy but some unusual song choices do sometimes sneak in.

You also need to make sure that you have a good and solid internet connection as there is no option, not that we can see, to download a class to use later. There is nothing more frustrating as getting half way through a class and it to start buffering or stop all together. If it stops then you have to start the class again from the very beginning – you can’t skip ahead which I get but can still be frustrating. I have literally thrown in the towel on a ride when this happened to me!

It is, however,  a sure sign of value when you don’t want to send back the equipment you’ve been asked to review. So when the time did come all too early to box up our bike and send it back, we were bereft. So much so that we bought one the next day and it arrived via courier a week later.  I guess you cannot get much better review than that can you? We’re off for a ride.

Find out more about Echelon and order your bike here. 
Can you really get results from a twenty minute workout? Find out here. 

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