This iTWire writer has been riding a NordicTrack S22i studio bike for the last month and I'm truly in love with the great joy it brings. Let’s be clear - I've never really been a gym person, and I have to be honest, I’ve never particularly enjoyed exercising. Yes, I’ve taken martial arts (got to green belt!), I’ve played soccer socially, but I’ve also struggled with weight through decades of sedentary desk-bound roles. I’m sure my journey is no different for many iTWire readers - professionals, executives, and knowledge workers who work long hours in mentally exhausting work that is not so physically demanding.
People speak about the "runner's high" and the sheer pleasure that exercise can bring when getting in the zone. I’ve wanted to experience that but struggled to push through the pain and discomfort of running to get to the bit where I actually enjoy it. I've previously talked about my interest in improving health and fitness here and here.
Yet, it wasn't always this way. When I was a boy growing up in country NSW I'd ride my bicycle around town. Like all of us who were children in the 1970s and 1980s, we’d come home from school, wander the town and come back when it was dark for dinner. Our parents had no clue where we were. It was a simpler time - perhaps not a safer time - but I loved zooming around on my bicycle, imagining myself a space explorer or Mad Max-style road warrior, eating up the road and mapping out the city.
Then I got older, got a job, became a mortgage holder and taxpayer, got more serious, my knee hurts, big projects are coming up, more and more responsibilities pile on … and those carefree days of my youth are a dim memory.
Well, NordicTrack brought it all flooding back, and more, and how!
While adulthood brings greater responsibility, it has also brought greater access to the world. As a boy I could only dream of exotic landscapes; as an adult, I’ve had the good fortune to travel the world until COVID-19 brought that to an end too.
Here was my crossroads: an overweight time-constrained middle-aged man who knew he had to do something for his health while thinking back to the pleasures of cycling as a boy and world travel as an adult. Enter the NordicTrack S22i Studio Bike, powered by iFit, and I have truly been transformed.
Your story might be the same as mine, or it might be different. You may be truly athletic and you are the pinnacle of fitness. Even so, we may share challenges: you want to exercise but your time is limited with family and work commitments, plus it’s getting cold outside. Perhaps you stopped going to the gym during lockdowns. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt in my mind that the NordicTrack S22i has a place in the home and hearts of anyone - from beginners to experts, from those in peak physical condition to those less so.
That's my story, and while I've said the S22i has been wonderful and transformational for me, I haven’t told you why. Let’s get to the bike itself.
The NordicTrack S22i is a high-quality professional gym-grade exercise bike. It's a stationary bike designed to sit in your home. It doesn’t have tyres yet you do travel with it. Not in the conventional sense, but the bike literally takes you around the world.
Here's the thing: the S22i is fitted with a 22" (hence the model name) Android-based touch-screen device that runs the iFit application. As I learned, iFIT Health & Fitness is the parent company that owns NordicTrack and other brands, and it brings patented technology - iFit - to its devices.
Using the iFit software running on the screen in front of you, you have access to limitless classes from iFit trainers. These include strength training, yoga, and all kinds of other categories as well as - of course - cycling. However, they’re not merely classes. Instead, they take you out into the world with epic journeys spanning the globe.
I took a ride through remote Italian villages; I took another across the Golden Gate Bridge. I explored the longest suspension bridge in the world - the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan. I’ve been across the Golden Gate Bridge in person many times - by car, by foot but never by bike. It was delightful being back in San Francisco again and seeing the views I love. However, I’ve never seen the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in person and it was such an awesome experience to travel every inch of its nearly 4km span.
Pictured: the Golden Gate Bridge
I saw the bridge as we approached, and as we wended up the access way onto it, then looked back at the city of Kobe and towards the city of Iwaya. I saw the sun shining on the busy and turbulent Akashi Strait.
Pictured: the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
I've never been there, not physically, but I saw it on the bike, and I felt it. Every section of incline, every section of decline, was reflected on the bike - because the iFit technology includes incline and decline, as well as resistance, that automatically adjust based on the conditions of the very real-world route you are on. The bike has a 20% incline and a -10% decline so you genuinely experience hills, valleys, troughs, climbs, and dips.
When you're not taking the iFit classes - of which there are so, so many that you will never be bored - you can make your own routes too. There’s a Google StreetView map that allows you to set your own course. It’s not animated and there isn’t a trainer motivating you, but you can explore your own neighbourhood or far-flung places equally as easily and see StreetView images as you move. For fun, I decided to ride down San Francisco’s Lombard St (not the most crooked street in the world, a tour guide operator once joked - “that’s Wall Street,” he said) but drew my map in the wrong direction and had to ride up it instead. My goodness, did that put the inclination through its paces as I puffed and panted while my bike tilted upwards to the roof.
Pictured: My home! Yes, this is the bike I've been riding, including 3kg weights and a Vegemite drink bottle.
There is so much to tell you. Spec-wise the bike is commercial quality and holds up to 159kg in rider weight. It weighs 88kg and measures 139.7cm long x 74cm wide x 144.5cm high. The seat is adjustable up and down and backwards and forwards. The 22” screen is height adjustable. The pedals include straps for your feet. Two drink holders are included as well as a small tray for storage. You also get two 3kg weights which slot into two weight holders so you can exercise your arms as well. The screen swivels so you can use it for off-bike exercising like yoga and core workouts. There’s an auxiliary music port, Bluetooth connectivity, and two speakers. The sound is solid and clear. There’s even a fan so you can blow cool air onto your face.
While riding you can turn on subtitles to catch everything your trainer says even if you're in a noisy environment, or if you want to play your own soundtrack instead. You can clear the screen of all distractions so it’s just you, the trainer, and the road (or path), or you can put all kinds of metrics and information in front of you - time remaining, watts produced, mileage, revolutions per minute, and also a leaderboard of other iFit participants. You can filter the leaderboard in many ways so if you want to compete against everybody you can, or if you want to see only where you stand against others of a similar age and gender who rode today then you can do that too.
Yet, the specs only tell part of the story. The bike is not simply an exercise bike that you get on, ride, and hop off. It’s genuinely an experience, and it truly opens your world up through the magic of the iFit trainers and the remarkable iFit tech that mechanically adjusts your bike’s incline and resistance while you go through the workout.
It's incredibly motivating; I found myself wanting to ride. That's right - from academically knowing I need to exercise to truly looking for excuses to hop on and to brush work or other things aside. In fact, while working from home it was dead easy to fit in a workout before starting for the day, or even during breaks, and then again at night. I never left the house, but I saw a monkey in the Jade forest. I rode along the coast of Pacific islands. I explored an incredible bridge in Hawaii. Yes, I love bridges, and with iFit I can see the greatest bridges in the world.
What's more, iFit records your workouts and provides challenges and digital awards and records to motivate you even further. Plus, it syncs with Apple Health and Google Fitness so all your activity counts towards your goals in those apps if you use them.
The range of activities is inspiring. You can train for the Tour de France as a regular bike rider. You can create your own achievable, successful training routine during winter or during lockdowns. You don’t have to leave the house; there’s literally no barrier to getting on and going for a ride except simply having 10 or 20 or 30 minutes to spare. That’s it.
The bike itself is currently on sale for $2,499, while iFit is a subscription-based service at $249 per year for an individual and $479 for a family, which includes up to five individual people - all with their own history and achievements recorded. Without iFit the bike is still a remarkable bike, and there is a manual mode, but you miss out on the vast range of content. As you progress through workouts you can gain rewards - for example, at 100 workouts for the year you will receive an iFit shirt, and after 200 a free month of iFit, and more - including credit at the iFit store and an opportunity to be flown to the iFit HQ. Apart from the free month these rewards apply to all members of the family group, so you could gain merchandise for the whole family.
NordicTrack, powered by iFit, has delivered a truly practical and safe way for people of all ages, body types, and athletic ranges to have a great burn in the ultimate immersive experience. I love it, and as per the above there is no way anybody would describe me as a gym junkie. It’s a bike for people like me. And for people not like me. It doesn’t matter if you’re fit or not fit, if you’re young or old, if you are active or passive. All that matters is that you have some space in your room and that you turn up. iFit does the rest - it inspires, it motivates, it tracks, and it transports.
You can re-visit much-treasured memories around the world, and you can explore far-flung locales you’ve only dreamed of seeing. You can trek to Mount Everest base camp or see the jungles of Thailand. In fact, there is so, so much content that I’m excited to get on every day. I don’t have to drag myself while thinking about how much I hate exercising; instead, my hardest decision is picking which of the so-many-exciting journeys I will choose for today. And I’ve lost kilograms in the last month doing it.
Often on Reddit and other social media sites I see people pose the question about what gadgets are a must-have to change your life for the better. For me, this is it. The NordicTrack S22i Studio Bike powered by iFit is a life-changer.
See it here for yourself: