Over the years, I’ve had memberships to traditional gyms, taken classes at boutique studios, worked out on my own at home and streamed free content on YouTube. Most recently, I’ve fallen in love with fitness apps. For the past three years, my two favorites have been the Peloton app and Les Mills On Demand and I’ll talk about them to anyone who will listen. In this post, I’m putting them head to head and telling you the pros and cons of these two popular exercise apps and letting you know where they’re similar and where they differ. Let’s take a look at the Peloton vs Les Mills app.
Peloton vs Les Mills app: Comparing the popular exercise apps
First, Peloton is not just at-home indoor cycling classes and Les Mills isn’t just BODYPUMP workouts. Both of these fitness companies have SO much more going for them than what you might know off-hand. I’ve written several posts about Peloton and also reviewed Les Mills On Demand, so check them out before you read on to get some background on the two apps if you’re new to them.
To give you some background, Les Mills, a four-time Olympian, opened his first gym in Auckland, New Zealand in 1968. The company then launched its signature program BODYPUMP in 1990. In a nutshell, Les Mills started as group fitness classes in New Zealand gyms decades ago, and now this powerhouse in group fitness has classes that are taught every day in gyms around the world. More recently, the Les Mills On Demand app hit the scene and that it’s their app offerings I’m focusing on in this post.
Turning to Peloton, the company was founded in 2012. Peloton’s claim to fame was their revolutionary live at-home virtual fitness classes on a stationary bike. They kicked off their class offerings with cycling classes on a stationary bike but since then, they’ve branched out to launch their treadmill, the Tread, and have a wide variety of fitness classes across disciplines.
Let me confess right out of the gate that I’m biased. I’ve been into group fitness my entire adult life and I confess that I’m a superfan of both of these apps. The Peloton Digital app is my favorite fitness app, but if I’d give the Peloton app a 9/10, the Les Mills On Demand app is coming in right behind it at 8.5/10.
Something to remember is that the Peloton and Les Mills apps do not have identical offerings. Their business models are not the same, so it’s not an apples to apples comparison.
TL;DR: They are both standout choices for home workouts and I emphatically recommend them both to new and advanced exercisers alike. There’s something for everyone at all skill levels and interests.
Note: Both companies have paid apps. Les Mills started out in person at gyms and branched out to online fitness whereas Peloton came on the scene as a fitness tech company offering workouts you can stream from a screen. Many Peloton users are digital app users only, but be aware that if you own the Peloton brand bike or treadmill, they require the user to pay for a pricier subscription option because of the integrated on-screen metrics on the Peloton equipment.
Both Peloton subscriptions, whether you have their brand of equipment or just use the app, give the user access to the same exact workouts. The app user doesn’t get all of the integrated stats when not on Peloton brand equipment.
Let’s get into how the Peloton and Les Mills apps stack up.
Similarities: Peloton vs Les Mills apps
Solid programming and an excellent selection of class types. While the exact classes aren’t the same between the two apps, the variety is comparable. Both Peloton and Les Mills have a wide selection of classes that focus on cardio, strength, high vs. lower intensity, etc. in various lengths. Peloton started out with just cycling classes and then added runs, but now have strength workouts, walks, yoga, meditation, outdoor audio content, a little dance and barre, and more. They’re always innovating.
Les Mills has a couple of cycling formats in addition to cardio, dance, strength, barre, and more. They don’t currently offer running classes, though. Most importantly, both apps have classes that are expertly programmed to be safe, efficient, scientifically sound, and fun. Workouts are not haphazardly thrown together. All classes are designed with a purpose.
Professionally filmed and produced workouts. This might be the most important similarity on my list. No matter how good an instructor is, if the class is filmed terribly and has poor audio, it can kill your motivation and make you not want to come back. I am happy to report that this is NOT the case with either the Peloton or Les Mills app.
Both companies film high-end workouts in terms of video quality and audio. There is no shaky camera work, everything is in focus, and the sound is crisp and clear, which is exactly what you’d expect from leading fitness companies.
One thing I will note is that with Peloton, the workouts are all filmed for the at-home user so you feel like the instructor is talking directly to you. They look right into the camera. With Les Mills, the instructors play to the audience in person and the classes aren’t necessarily filmed for Les Mills On Demand. For that reason, the instruction doesn’t come across the same way. I don’t think one is better or worse, though.
Affordable app you can use across multiple devices. The Peloton Digital app is US$12.99 and Les Mills is US$14.99 (slightly cheaper when you pay upfront for the year). Keep in mind that if you have the Peloton bike or treadmill, the obligatory monthly subscription cost is higher at $39/month because of the metrics you’ll get with the integrated screen. In any case, they’re all cheaper than most gym memberships, but strictly speaking about the app costs, they’re both quite affordable. You can stream classes from iOS or Android devices, screencast it to your TV, use your computer, etc.
Both apps have classes that require a bit of equipment but they both also have classes that just require you to just show up and nothing more. Peloton’s classes might require a bike, treadmill, or a set of dumbbells or two depending on what you choose, but there are also classes that don’t require any equipment such as outdoor runs, cardio classes, and meditation.
Similarly, BODYPUMP from Les Mills requires weights and CXWORX requires a resistance band, but many of their workouts don’t require any equipment at all such as BODYATTACK and BODYCOMBAT.
Both apps have a timer in the upper left-hand corner so you know how much time is left. The difference is that with Peloton, you can tap to hide the timer whereas with Les Mills, it’s always there. Also with Les Mills, the timer counts down the time left in each song whereas Peloton counts down the entire time remaining in the workout.
Differences: Peloton vs Les Mills apps
99% of Peloton’s classes are streamed live in real time and then made available in their vast on-demand library. They add several new workouts, across disciplines and lengths, every single day. Because of that, Peloton’s on-demand class library is huge — well over 10,000 classes and growing. This is the main difference between the classes on the two apps.
Les Mills doesn’t follow a live streaming model. They have fewer classes, they’re added quarterly (not daily) and everything is pre-recorded, not live. Because Peloton’s classes are streamed live, they feel current and real, like you’re part of something going on now with thousands of others around the world. Instructors have a bit of freedom in what they say and when. If there’s a small mistake live, it’s no big deal.
Les Mills classes, on the other hand, are polished and perfect with every word having its place. The focus is on the workout, so no random stories or banter with Les Mills instructors. Sometimes the dialogue can seem a bit forced and cheesy.
Regarding the coaching, I feel like you get to know Peloton instructors’ personalities a little bit more and learn about their life through the way they coach and the information they share. It’s a nice distraction sometimes to hear about how Matt Wilpers’ mom is a fast hiker and what Jess Sims’ silly dog Sienna has been up to lately. Not all of the best Peloton instructors are chatty, but it is a difference between Peloton and what you’ll hear from the coaches in a Les Mills class.
Peloton’s classes have a leaderboard feature. During all workouts, you’ll see the usernames and avatar of other people currently working out in the same class that you are, as shown above (you can also hide the leaderboard). You can send them a virtual high-five and even use them as friendly competition if you’re on a Peloton bike or treadmill. Les Mills doesn’t have a live leaderboard feature since they don’t have a live classes model.
Peloton is metrics based and the stats are integrated into your ride. If you’re riding a Peloton bike (not just the Peloton app), you’ll have your cadence, resistance, power, and heart rate (if you wear a HR monitor) displayed on screen in front of you for bike and treadmill classes and be able to see other people’s output live.
The data can be great to track personal progress on the bike, make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout, and is just neat to see in front of you so you know you’re in the range the instructor is looking for. It’s also how you’re able to hit a PR (personal record). If you’re using the Peloton app, there are hacks to tracking some of these stats. Les Mills On Demand isn’t metrics based and there’s no integration to track stats.
Shoutouts. When you hit a milestone on Peloton such as 100 rides or have a birthday, instructors can see that on their end and call out your username live on the ride to say congrats. Shoutouts are just a few seconds long, but riders look forward to hearing their name called out and it can be motivation to get on the bike and have a few seconds of recognition. Instructor shoutouts are a big deal to many riders in the Peloton community and many people plan their rides around who they’re likely to get a shoutout from and when.
As Peloton has become increasingly popular, it’s gotten more difficult to get a shoutout because there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of riders who have milestones on a ride and instructors can’t get through them all. Shoutouts can sometimes get distracting. There are no shoutouts in Les Mills classes because they aren’t live and there’s no integration feature with the community.
Peloton classes are taught by one instructor the whole class whereas Les Mills classes usually have several instructors on stage at one time. In many classes, they take turns leading the workout with each track and then swap off. Peloton does have special events every month or so where several instructors participate in each workout and switch off who leads each song (All For One ride, for example), but generally one instructor leads the entire class.
With Peloton, you can filter workouts by instructor (as well as music, length, etc.) whereas on the Les Mills app, you can’t filter the workout by instructor.
Les Mills’ classes are choreographed to each song, down to the second. There’s a new release usually once per quarter and every second is scripted and choreographed for a super polished, pro class. Peloton classes are still planned with deliberate programming but it feels less rehearsed and more real since they are live streamed and there are new classes all the time.
Les Mills is a more established company whose classes started out being taught (and still are) in gyms all over the world. They’re global and have thousands of licensed instructors all over the world that teach the same classes you’ll see on app. Peloton’s business model has always been live virtual fitness and their classes aren’t taught in gyms in person (just live audience in-studio classes with official Peloton instructors, well, before the pandemic anyway). Their bikes and treadmills are also currently available only in North America, the UK, and Germany.
Les Mills’ classes have a comment section in the app and it can be really helpful in getting a feel for what people think of the release and if the music is good. Peloton classes don’t have a comment/chat section, just a simple class score based on thumbs ups/downs with no area to leave a comment.
Peloton’s music is more diverse. They have classes with original music ranging from EDM, to classic rock, to old school hip hop, to pop, to 80’s music and so much more (and you can filter classes by music type). Les Mills generally has current pop music remixes backing each class.
The Les Mills instructors do not curse in class or play explicit music. Some Peloton instructors will swear in their classes and play music that contains explicit lyrics (you can filter out explicit classes when searching if you want o avoid them). This is not the case with Les Mills.
Peloton’s community aspect is huge. That’s not to say the Les Mills community is non-existent but in terms of an app-only community (not speaking about the Les Mills gym classes in general or instructor communities), Peloton is very active on social media, offering challenges, bringing people together on the leaderboard via tags and high fives, offering in-person events like Homecoming, social media communities for each instructor’s fans, and more.
OK, based on the differences I mention above and the following graphic, it might sound like Peloton is winning here in my comparison. Despite the companies’ differences, Les Mills has its place in my workout routine even if it looks like they’re coming up short. No, they don’t offer live classes and the workout library is smaller, but the classes are addictive and so well programmed that it doesn’t feel like you’re missing anything.
As for the live aspect of Peloton, in the hundreds of Peloton classes I’ve taken over the past couple of years, I think maybe 5 were live. Live classes don’t always work for my schedule since I live in France and there’s no difference in the actual workout. This is especially true if you’re using the app and aren’t on a Peloton brand bike. The workout is exactly the same and most of the time, if you’re hoping for a shoutout, the chances are slim because there are just so many milestones the instructors have in each class.
There are pluses to taking a live Peloton class (accountability, community aspect, etc.) but they don’t win out over on-demand ones for me 99% of the time. Although the two apps are different, they both have a lot going for them.
Peloton vs. Les Mills at a glance
OK, let’s put them head to head. For me, here’s who wins between Peloton Digital and Les Mills On Demand in the following categories:
Types of classes: Tie.
They both have a bunch of class types that range from strength, to cycling, to barre and more.
Class library: Peloton
Peloton wins by a landslide and has several new classes added every single day.
Choreography: Les Mills
Les Mills’ classes are FUN! The choreography makes the time pass quickly. BODYCOMBAT and BODYSTEP are my favorites.
Both companies’ instructors bring their A-game in terms of energy. The best Peloton instructors are right on par with the best Les Mills instructors.
Peloton puts a huge focus on community and runs challenges, has badges you can earn, and so much more.
Hip & trendy: Peloton
Peloton is on fire right now and wins when it comes to the cool factor. They are killing it in terms of growth and their social media is very engaging and fun. They’re always running challenges, doing themed classes featuring certain singers or bands, offering new badges, instructors are very active on social media, and it all feels very hip and current, especially since they do live classes.
Diverse music selection: Peloton
Peloton has classes for every type of musical taste and you can even filter rides by the type of music. Les Mills classes focus on upbeat pop music.
Easy-to-use app: Peloton
I don’t find either one difficult or buggy at all, but overall I think Peloton has a more streamlined design. From the home screen, Peloton is much simpler and you can see a big square for each discipline and filter by a variety of options. Simply click running or cycling, the instructor, length, and type of music to get to where you want to go. Les Mills has a little more going on from the home page and it’s not quite as clean of a design.
For the app, Peloton’s monthly subscription is cheaper by a couple of dollars. If you pay for Les Mills in one annual payment, the monthly cost is a little cheaper. Keep in mind if you have the Peloton brand bike or treadmill, you need the US$39/month subscription. There’s no option to pay the cheaper app-only price if you own their equipment.
A high-end, professional production: Tie
Both Peloton and Les Mills put out a super high-end, professionally shot workout. I’ll say that Peloton is more consistent in that the content on the app is shot live for the app and is always in the same studio with the same type of lighting and camera angles (exception would be during the pandemic, some instructors did classes live from home so the setup was different). On the Les Mills app, some of the classes will be just the instructors in a studio and other times you will see it was shot before a live audience. Some releases are a little darker or filmed differently.
I can’t stress enough how much I love both of these apps. Peloton may have a slight edge based on my specific preferences, but you can’t go wrong by subscribing to them both. Both companies offer a free trial so why not test them out? Get the free trial on the Les Mills On Demand app here and Peloton’s free trial here.
Do you work out with the Peloton or Les Mills app? What do you love or hate about each one and why?
Check out my other Peloton content here:
Check out these fun Etsy shops with all kinds of Peloton clothing inspired by our favorite instructors. Here are some of my favorite Peloton shirts below.
Disclosure: This is not sponsored and I’m not affiliated with Peloton or Les Mills in any way.
Fitness by Smalllike from the Noun Project
open book by Maxim Kulikov from the Noun Project
Community by LAFS from the Noun Project
dance by Nhor from the Noun Project
App by Flatart from the Noun Project
Music by ProSymbols from the Noun Project
Energy by Alice Design from the Noun Project
Fire by Aaron K. Kim from the Noun Project