Oh, the Leaderboard — that amorphous box hovering ominously on the side of your workout screen that ranks athletes in an online class. In the last few years the Leaderboard has become a presence in online classes with verifiable popularity. I am torn on my feelings about the Leaderboard — in any given ride, I find I will watch it, then swipe away in disgust, only to swipe it out again — just to see if I budged.
For those who are competitive in nature, the Leaderboard drives the ride. Forget the trainer or the cues or what anyone in the studio is doing; the only thing that matters to you is where your name falls on that list. For those who don’t love being ranked, the Leaderboard can sometimes feel discouraging.
Whatever you think about the Leaderboard, it’s a popular feature that many people like. The online community created by and linked through the Leaderboard is one of the driving forces behind the success of subscription-based exercise classes.
Recently, iFit introduced a Leaderboard feature in its classes and outdoor routes. This offers many similar features to the Peloton Leaderboard with a few important upgrades for user convenience.
First, let’s outline the Leaderboard display.
1. Leaderboard Default
This shows up when you begin your class or program. It displays all riders who have or are currently competing in that event. Riders are identified by:
a. First name and last initial or Anonymous (if you’ve adjusted your privacy settings)
b. Gender (M or F)
c. Age by decade (30’s, 40’s, etc.)
d. Average miles per hour
e. Elevation Gain
2. Leaderboard Filters
In order to compare fairly, you can adjust the Leaderboard filters as follows:
- You may create your own Leaderboard to compete against friends. In order to do this, you must log in to iFit.com and add/create a group.
- Male and Female options are available under the Gender tab
- Filter riders to only include those in your age group (by decade)
- Studio bike (Nordictrack or ProForm bikes)
- Bike (if you are riding another exercise bike but using the iFit app)
- All Time (anyone who has ever taken the ride)
- Last 30 days (anyone who has taken the ride in the last 30 days)
- This year (anyone who has taken the ride this calender year)
- In order to keep the Leaderboard fair, you can exclude riders who have paused or stopped their ride at some point. This eliminates any unfair advantage to riders who may stop for a drink or a break and then come back refreshed.
- Any rider who has paused or stopped their ride has a yellow bubble just above their name.
- Exclude riders who have not completed the full route or class
- This is for when you want to ride against yourself. If you have already done a ride, and now you plan to try and beat your previous course record, you can log in and race against your past time.
a. Miles – The default is to rank all riders based on total distance. Distance is determined by both speed and resistance. The rider who rides the fastest with the most resistance will travel the farthest during the course of the ride. This rider is ranked first and designated “the King” with a crown beside their name. All other riders are given a ranking beginning with #2 (after the king) and moving down numerically.
b. Elevation Gain – You can choose to rank the Leaderboard by elevation gain. This eliminates the advantage of those riders who leave their bike at 0% grade (or lower) and just sprint the whole thing. The elevation ranking reflects the effort of riders who use automated or manually set incline.
How the Leaderboard functions
On the Class Info Screen
Included in the class overview is a box which displays Leaderboard info such as the total number of athletes who have done the ride and the top three riders.
In an Outdoor Route or Class
Like Peloton’s Leaderboard, the iFit board appears on the right side of your screen in a vertical bar. It is slightly transparent so as to not completely block that side of the screen. Rankings are set to default (listed above) unless you adjust the filters. All adjustments can be done via the touchscreen, so you can adjust them as you are riding.
When Filters are Activated
Once you select a filter, it is immediately applied to the Leaderboard. If you want to only compete against riders in your age group, you can adjust it via the filter screen and only those riders will be displayed. Filters are permanent until you change them again — they won’t reset to default after completion of the ride.
How to Hide/Swipe the Leaderboard Aside
If you find the Leaderboard distracting, you can simply swipe your finger to the side and it will disappear into the right side of the screen.
How Riders are Ranked
As listed above, the default ranking is by total distance (speed x resistance). You can change this to rank by total elevation gain, since many of the NordicTrack and ProForm bikes include an incline/decline feature built into the bike. As of now, riders are not ranked by kilojoules like they are in Peloton.
How the iFit Leaderboard is Similar to Peloton’s
The overall view and ranking system looks very similar in the two programs.
- The Leaderboard appears on the right side of the screen in both programs.
- There are filters to adjust display options.
- Athletes can be ranked by various criteria based on rider preference.
- If you don’t want to see the Leaderboard, you can swipe it off the screen to the side.
How the iFit Leaderboard is different than Peloton’s
A few features make the iFit Leaderboard superior.
- The iFit Leaderboard is engineered to fairly reflect athlete effort while still allowing users to stop and pause the program.
One of my biggest complaints with the Peloton programming is there is no pause button! You cannot pause a class at any time to get a drink, help a child, answer the door, send a text or use the bathroom. If you step away from your bike or Tread, the class will continue in the background until you either come back or it times out. This is a huge hassle! One of the benefits of exercising at home is the ability to briefly pause when needed. Peloton does not have a pause button because it would throw off the Leaderboard rankings. Athletes who step away arguably have an advantage over those who continue to push through.
The iFit Leaderboard identifies those riders who have modified the ride by adjusting incline or pausing their program. A small yellow bubble appears above their name to show that they may have a slight advantage due to a short rest. You can select the “Hide Modified” filter which will exclude these riders from the Leaderboard display, this way riders who ride steady through the whole program are not at a disadvantage. It also makes it so riders can step away for a moment and then return to the class right where they left off. After any break or modification, you will have a yellow bubble for the duration of the ride. This feature maintains the fairness of the Leaderboard by designating those who modify, but it provides riders the ability to pause their ride when needed — which is one of the best benefits of riding at home!
- Leaderboard rankings are based on distance and elevation rather than Kilojoules
Riders may be training for different events or they may want to be ranked by different criteria than simply Kilojoules alone. Since NordicTrack bikes include incline and decline options, they can also reflect total elevation gain, which is an important training variable. Total distance as determined by resistance and speed throughout the session. Kilojoules are very accurate at reflecting how much energy you produced throughout your ride, but a Kj total doesn’t reflect resistance, speed or elevation gain. iFit allows users to tailor their rankings per their training variable.
What we don’t love about the Leaderboard
- Any Leaderboard feature can be distracting. When riding in a class or along an outdoor route, the Leaderboard can be distracting. Names are always moving up or down the list, which redirects your attention to the rankings.
- Some people don’t love to be ranked. Granted, you can always hide yourself from the rankings or change your profile to display Anonymous. While it’s not overly irritating, it is one more modification you have to make to your profile.
- The Leaderboard can feel discouraging. Ever work really hard in a class and finish feeling strong, only to check your ranking and find yourself near the bottom? That good feeling quickly dissipates and may rob you of your feeling of success or accomplishment. While the Leaderboard can be stimulating, it can also be disappointing.
What we love about the iFit Leaderboard
- Leaderboards connect people. Rather than feel like you are riding at home alone, the Leaderboard makes it feel like you are participating in an event with hundreds of other riders. This communal participation element is our favorite part of the Leaderboard feature.
- Leaderboards challenge riders to go just a little harder. It’s hard to watch yourself hover in that neutral zone of mediocrity — ranking somewhere in the middle of digital no-man’s-land. Consequently, riders get an added incentive to rise just a few rankings — one, then maybe two spots. This challenge makes us all try harder than we may otherwise do, therefore getting more out of the ride.
- The Leaderboard makes the ride a game. Even with the most engaging trainer in an interesting, fast-paced class, it can be tempting to lose interest. The Leaderboard keeps riders interested longer by creating an element of participation, competition and interaction — essentially, it turns the ride into a game. Who will win? Who can ride the fastest? Can you keep up? Are you as strong as you think? These are all questions teased out by the presence of the Leaderboard.
- The Leaderboard gives you an idea of who else is riding and where. Names, age divisions and locations are displayed beneath each name which brings a persona to the rider you are working against. “So, Hank in his 60’s from Las Vegas, let’s see what you got!” I’ve seen riders in their 70’s trounce younger riders in a race for the longest distance; with the Leaderboard, the field is wide open and anyone can play.
Our Final Synopsis: The Leaderboard is Cool!
All things considered, the iFit Leaderboard is one of our favorites! The fact that you can pause a class and adjust Leaderboard rankings based on who modified the ride is a brilliant solution to Peloton’s “you can never pause a class” strategy. This brings the power back into the hands of the athlete, who gets to choose how and what Leaderboard rankings to display — and when to pause quickly to answer the door.
Multiple filters also bring an added element of control and selection to the Leaderboard so you can modify your display per your training variables.
We love both the king icon for the fastest rider and the yellow bubble designation for those who modify the ride. A quick summary of each rider’s name, age, and location also keeps things interesting.
We suggest you check out the iFit Leaderboard today — we think you’ll like it — and if you don’t, you can always just swipe it away!