I am not a gamer, nor am I particularly committed to personal fitness. Soon, I may be both.
Peloton, the connected fitness company committed to bringing a gym experience to homes across the globe, recently announced that it has been flirting with the world of gaming. After months of research and development, the company has begun testing a mashup of gaming and fitness with a digital product it calls Lanebreak.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Peloton experience, it goes something like this: First, come home from work and eat a snack. Second, take a nap. After that, wake up, scroll through social media. Finally, inform the person that you live with that you absolutely have to get on the bike tonight.
In the Saddle
Though Peloton offers a variety of workouts from strength to cardio, stretching, and yoga (shout out to Chelsea Jackson Roberts), it’s primarily known for a stationary bike experience. If you’re like me, when you hear the term “stationary bike,” you think of a cream-colored thing your parents bought for your grandmother, who positioned it in the middle of her living room and never moved it because it weighed one thousand pounds.
My grandmother rode that bike exactly twice. First, on the day we gave it to her. Second, during a subsequent visit when she climbed into the saddle, pedaled a few times and then wished aloud that the bike actually went somewhere.
Perhaps she would have dug Peloton’s new foray into gaming. Sure, she would still have been disappointed that the bike remained in a fixed position, but she would have been at least mildly interested in the effect her physical efforts made on the screen animation. I never owned many video game peripherals, so she never had the chance to use the Nintendo NES Zapper or the Power Pad. Likewise, the Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero controllers were never in my collection. However, she had taken her fair share of spins around an Atari Pole Position track. For instance, she was comfortable bumping me from my lane so that she could take the checkered flag. Was my grandmother a gamer?
The more I think of it, she would have loved Lanebreak. Cripes. I think Peloton is on to something here. First, the company is intermixing the obsessive worlds of gaming and fitness. Second, it’s compelling us, the perpetually unlikely, to consider the possibility of expending energy to play a fun game.
And here’s what’s fun about it: It’s based on music.
Finding Fitness Rhythm
For instance, the developers describe Lanebreak as a rhythm-based game. I like the sound of that. According to the company, players are challenged to match and sustain their resistance or cadence to achieve a score, which can be compared to other riders. [Side note: please comment if your initials were ever next to the high score of an arcade game. Above all, I always imagined that I would achieve such status on the Dig Dug machine at the Putt-Putt in Greensboro, N.C. I never came close.]
Peloton members are now testing a beta version. Its current iteration has a Tron-like aesthetic, featuring a disembodied wheel rolling along one of three tracks that appear to reach into infinite black space. Before playing, riders select a level of difficulty based on workout type, length, and music genre playlists. In other words, the pace of the music dictates game difficulty. So cool!
Peloton goes on to describe Lanebreak as a virtual track where riders control their cadence with leg speed, and can “switch lanes” left or right by turning the resistance knob on the bike. In other words, this creates fast, medium, and slow lanes. During gameplay, riders face multiple lane obstacles, all synchronized to a musical beat.
Undoubtedly, Lanebreak designers are still compiling playlists as the game remains in development. This provides me with an opportunity to create my dream playlist for riders who want to take this groundbreaking fitness game to the next level.
The Hypersonic Challenge
01. “Funeral March” by Frédéric Chopin
An anchored back-and-forth crouches at the heart of this piece. I use it to set my foundation, no matter how much I may drift in the middle of it.
02. “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” by Donny Hathaway
The breakneck pace of this song delivers me to a state of readiness for anticipated physical torment.
03. “Koyaanisqatsi” by Philip Glass
At this point in the ride, I’ll be second-guessing myself. This is the soundscape of trepidation.
04. (any) Gregorian Chant
Get up. Stay up. Riding these monk waves. Wait, is this three hours long?
05. “Ready to Take a Chance Again” by Barry Manilow
I’m sweating now. Feeling like giving up. I’m searching for a reason to go on. Thanks, B.Man.
06. “1/1” by Brian Eno
I’ve pushed myself too far. I may be hallucinating. I’m pedaling, but my body feels like it’s on a moving walkway in a neon void.
07. “You Suffer” by Napalm Death
I wake from my stupor with this 1.316-second adrenaline shot.
08. “Try to Remember” by Andy Williams
Just when I thought mind and body were restored, this song comes along and ejects my soul. My body rides along, a hollow, panting husk.
09. “4’33″” by John Cage
This one is perfect for when you think you’re about to die. And usually, at this stage of a ride, that’s exactly how I feel.
10. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
Renewal! I remember who I was! Who I am! Keep pedaling, old friend! You’ve done it!
11. “Slow Down” by Brand Nubian
Time to cool down with a lasting reminder.
In conclusion, with this playlist motivating me to push myself to the limits, I expect to achieve the undisputed high score on Lanebreak. However, it’s equally as likely that I will be politely asked to leave the Peloton community and never return.
Lanebreak is set to make a full launch this winter.
One last thing…
Cycling video games have come a long way since the 1980s.
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