Zwift Premium: Would you pay more for Zwift to be your coach?

A survey to Zwift subscribers proposes new premium features and asks how much respondents are prepared to pay.

by Ronan Mc Laughlin

Zwift is one of the most popular indoor training platforms currently available. Its virtual worlds, group rides, social interaction, and race scene put it at the top of many riders’ lists when it comes to training platform options. However, custom training plans is at least one area where other training platforms such as SYSTM, Xert and TrainerRoad can claim the upper hand over Zwift. But is that about to change? 

Last week, a seemingly select number of Zwift users received an email from Intellisurvey, inviting Zwifters to participate in a survey on potential new Zwift features and pricing. 

While one could be forgiven for trashing the email as some form of spam/hoax, Zwift did announce in October that it had commissioned Intellisurvey to conduct market research on its behalf. In a Zwift Forums post at the time, the Zwift community forum manager ‘Shuji’ explained, “Our research team is conducting a study to understand what products and features our subscribers value to help us develop the product you want most.”

Fast forward three months and Zwift is engaged in a further round of market research, this time with the focus firmly on training. Shuji explains in a new Zwift forum post “Our research team is conducting a study focused on advanced training tools, and the demand for such tools among Zwifters today. One section of last week’s survey asked responders how much they are willing to pay for a so-called ‘Zwift Premium’.”

Although I was not surveyed, and as such have not seen all the questions, the survey reportedly offered numerous decreasing price points to find a charge acceptable for each respondent.

The survey describes Zwift Premium as “everything you need to train and cycle at your best – from adaptive training plans to advanced analytics.” The slide now shared widely across internet forums (see the feature image above) notes five new features Zwift Premium subscribers might enjoy in addition to the current/standard Zwift offering:

  1. An adaptive training calendar.
  2. Custom adaptive training plans.
  3. Daily AI-powered workout recommendations.
  4. Automatic threshold power (FTP) detection (Presumably a power-curve-based calculation as opposed to the current ‘95% of a new best 20-minute power’ that Zwift currently uses for FTP calculations).
  5. Push workout to head units for outdoor activities. 

The feature list heavily references adaptive training and AI. TrainerRoad’s Adaptive Training (AT) uses machine learning to assess past performances and workouts to adjust your training plan and future workouts. The theory is by analysing riders’ perceived effort, wattage output, training sessions completed, sessions failed, etc, Adaptive Training can alter a training plan to ensure the athlete is always getting the “right” workout.

The Zwift Premium features are significantly more advanced than Zwift’s current workout offering and much more akin to those of Xert and the Trainerroad AT mentioned above. In fact, type any of the feature details into a search engine and the top results are all links to TrainerRoad’s new Adaptive Training feature launched just last year. The similarity between the proposed Zwift Premium and the current TrainerRoad and Xert offerings has led to much forum speculation of potential partnerships and even acquisitions. 

However likely or unlikely any partnership may seem, it certainly would solve the Zwift vs TrainerRoad dilemma many indoor trainers, including myself, currently face. Many riders want to follow the dedicated custom training plans other platforms offer, yet also want the social interaction and virtual world Zwift provides.

While it is currently possible to ride in Zwift while following a Xert training plan, an integrated custom training plan feature within Zwift could create a more user- and possibly wallet-friendly one-app solution. That’s not to mention the time and money Zwift would save on creating its own AI adaptive training plan.

Zwift has surveyed its users several times in its relatively short history. Surveys such as this are no guarantee of any forthcoming features or new pricing structures. That said, a 2017 survey on pricing led to a price increase shortly thereafter. Furthermore, a subsequent survey in 2020 seemed to indicate the company was investigating a custom training plan offering. Zwift is, of course, known to be working on its own hardware offering and its most recent survey in late December seemingly confirmed these offerings are getting closer to reality.

All that said, fans of the Zwift Premium proposal perhaps shouldn’t hold their breath. Zwift recently teased a long list of planned updates for 2022, some of which we have already seen, without reference to any workout or training plan updates.

Furthermore, when asked about whether Zwift Premium was on its way, Chris Snook, director of PR at Zwift, said, “We regularly conduct market research to help us develop the product our community wants most. Last week, we conducted a survey focused on advanced training tools. Everything in this survey is purely hypothetical but is designed to give us a more accurate read on the demand for such products”.

We will bring you more on Zwift Premium if/when it happens.

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