Offering Digme’s studio classes in your home, the Digme At Home bike will interest those who prefer a more communal feel to their spinning sessions, but it falls short of the experience you get from the likes of Peloton on most counts.
- Zoom classes give more communal feel
- Smooth, quiet ride
- Expensive, complicated membership
- No built-in screen
- Less slick than Technogym, Peloton, Echelon and others
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Many gyms and studios developed virtual services, like live classes over Zoom or on-demand video workouts, to survive during COVID-19 lockdowns.
In the case of London studio chain Digme, this proved so popular that the Digme At Home service continues to run alongside its real-world classes. Digme At Home features spinning, yoga, HIIT and strength sessions, with a live schedule of classes you can book in to join via Zoom, along with a library of on-demand workouts.
To provide a complete service, Digme allows you to rent or buy a Keiser m3i Lite spin bike to use for the classes, with a range of monthly payment options available. The overall package is certainly geared to spinning devotees and takes aim at the likes of Peloton and Echelon, so how does Digme’s service stack up against those big hitters?
The Keiser m3i Lite is a studio-quality bike, as you would expect for the £1,999 it costs to buy outright from Digme. It has a basic console showing key stats like cadence and power, and it can communicate with the Digme app to display your stats on screen during live classes.
The resistance is changed by lifting a handle that allows you to select a “gear”. This system allows for more precision than twiddling a knob and also means the instructors can tell you which gear to be in. It’s a simple system that really comes into its own when trying to follow instructions during an intense HIIT cycle.
The pedals have both toe-cages and clips, so you can use normal shoes or cycling cleats if you have them, and there’s a tablet holder on the handlebars. There’s no built-in screen so you need to provide your own device.
Signing up to Digme At Home is an unnecessarily confusing experience, with a dizzying array of payment options available. Essentially you pay a certain amount each month to rent the bike (unless you buy it outright), plus £30 a month for the Digme At Home service. Other key numbers to look at are the length of contract (some can be as long as 36 months), whether you have to pay a deposit for the bike, and how much it costs to buy the bike at the end of your rental period.
The simplest option is to pay £1,999 to buy the bike and get a year’s subscription to Digme At Home, plus some goodies like headphones, a towel and a water bottle. From there it gets much more complicated, with fees rising and falling, and appearing and disappearing, in line with how long a contract you want.
The longer the contract, the less you’ll pay every month but the more you’ll pay overall. If you opt for the longest 36-month contract, bike rental and a subscription is £69 a month, and it will cost £399 for the bike at the end of the rental period. That adds up to £2,883 (£80 a month overall).
The 12-month plan is listed as “popular” and costs £99 a month plus £949 if you want the bike at the end – £2,137 or £178 a month overall. Those are by no means your only options: there are a wide variety of contract lengths; the shorter ones add higher delivery and collection fees, and require a deposit. There’s also a subscription that includes in-person classes to complicate things further.
A lot of options then, and none of them cheap, though broadly in line with home spinning set-ups like this. The Peloton Bike costs from £1,350 with £39 a month for the app membership, while the cheapest Echelon bike is £799 and the app is £39.99 if you pay monthly on a rolling contract. Another option is the Technogym Bike, which is £1,990 and then £29 a month for a subscription to access all its features. The Peloton and Technogym Bikes both have built-in screens, and very nice screens at that, while Echelon’s bike just has a tablet mount on the handlebars.
The Keiser m3i Lite is a lovely bike to ride on. It runs very smoothly and quietly no matter how hard you’re working, and the resistance is simple to change quickly using the handle.
The console is a little basic, but it links to the Digme At Home app during live classes so you get your stats on screen. Even that, though, falls short of the experience on other home spinning services, which will display your stats in more detail, as well as illustrating the outputs the instructor is asking for and generating extra features like live leaderboards.
When you enter a live Zoom session with the other attendees and the instructor, you can pop your camera on and look at the other people in the class for a more communal vibe, or have just the instructor on screen.
Mainly because there are fewer people in the Digme classes, the sessions do take on a more intimate feel than those I’ve tried with the likes of Peloton, where thousands of people can be tuning in at once. However, I found that the sessions with Peloton or Technogym felt slicker and somehow more in line with the motivational experience you get at real spinning studios.
The on-demand classes are just as good as the ones I’ve tested from other brands. The Digme instructors are reliably motivational and the sessions varied enough to keep you coming back for a regular dose of spinning. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but having the bike close to hand with the sessions available at all times might just help you jump on more frequently.
There are also live and on-demand sessions for other types of workouts. It’s nice to be able to access live strength and yoga classes in particular, and the on-demand library is well stocked with options across the board.
Almost all the classes on the live schedule take place in the morning, at lunchtime or in the evening. While it makes sense to work to the traditional rhythm of the working day, including a couple more options would have been handy.
I found the app was prone to the odd technical difficulty. At one point it kept crashing and I had to uninstall and reinstall it. When joining live classes I generally had to reset the app to get it to work, and in several classes my bike stats didn’t show up on screen. There was nothing especially disastrous about all of this, but it did take away from using Digme At Home compared with the ultra-slick experience from Peloton and others.
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There’s nothing terribly wrong with the Digme At Home experience, but I found it less engaging across the board than other services I’ve used, whether it’s Peloton, Echelon or Technogym for spinning, or apps like Fiit and Apple Fitness+ for general home workouts.
The bike itself is solid, but the lack of a built-in screen is a shame given the price, and other services integrate your stats into the on-screen experience in much slicker and more useful ways. A lot of the time I felt like I could just get a cheap spinning bike and find some spinning classes on YouTube, or through a cheaper app, and it would be just as good as Digme and far less expensive.
In the live sessions there is a communal feel enhanced by the relatively small number of people and the fact you’re all on a Zoom call together, and if you’re already a Digme studio member this could be a great extension of the in-person experience to your house. For those not already in the Digme family, though, this wouldn’t be top of my list for a home spinning service.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.