One Irish man invented the lifehack we didn't know we needed: a stationary exercise bike that will stream Netflix for you, but with one genius catch — only if you keep on pedaling.
The DIY tutorial dubbed CycFlix was created by Dublin Institute of Technology engineering student Ronan Byrne, and is available for free via how-to video and step-by-step code share on Instructables, if you're feeling up to the Python/electrical engineering challenge. [CycFlix updates and simplifies into "three steps" (ha!) a previously shared 2015 Instructable called "No TV Unless You Exercise!" submitted by user Plays in Traffic that boasted "only six steps" to connect your TV to your stationary bike. Time to sign up for CodeAcademy...]
As Refinery29 writes this week, the idea of hacking an exercise bike in this way is "a clever commitment device, a concept economists and game theorists love in which one commits to do a thing they don't necessarily want to do (exercise) in exchange for something they want (Netflix)".
Both Instructables DIY plans feature how-to videos, and both are available for free to anyone who may want to test out their own coding/circuitry skills. (Plays in Traffic just asks that if you successfully use his instructions, you make a small donation to your local Humane Society — not a bad idea all around to pay it forward in some way for the fitness savings and health benefits you'll no doubt receive.)
For those without advanced coding skills, fingers crossed an exercise bike manufacturer will pick this up and partner with Netflix sometime soon. (Are you listening, NordicTrak? Peloton? SoulCycle?!)
Several fitness chains have already introduced the idea of pairing exercise bikes and other cardio equipment with big-screen projections of popular movies and shows, like FitFlix Theatre at Fitness Connection gyms and the Cardio Cinemas at Gold's Gyms, but they do lack the accountability of having the bike automatically shut off if you're not hitting your RPMs — and the personalization of your Netflix queue (not to mention the privacy of your own home).
In the meantime, you can borrow this lifehack discipline and only do your binge-watching while exercising in front of the TV, or just limit your TV time to when you're actually using one of the cardio machines at the gym.