I love working in the health and fitness industry. Every day, I get to meet passionate people who are dedicated to improving the lives of those around them. IHRSA is the fitness industry’s biggest trade show and over the past few years of attending it has become obvious that the most successful products are those that give people a platform to share their passion for health and fitness.
Expresso bringing together two Legends. On the left is G. Cisnero and on the right is M. Bogumill. Go to any all time leaderboard and you will find these guys in the top 10.
Let’s look at Zumba and TRX. These aren’t revolutionary new products. Zumba is, in essence, repackaged aerobics with animal print tights instead of fluorescent leg warmers. TRX is nothing more than a bunch of canvas straps hanging from the ceiling. This is basic stuff. What makes these products so successful and effective, is that they give great people a way to connect with others and share their passion for health and fitness.
Cardio equipment does not do this! In fact, it does the opposite! You walk in, you put on your headphones, and flip on the TV. You don’t interact which means there is no opportunity for connection. Have you ever tried to talk to a pretty girl on a treadmill watching The Bachelor? Good luck!!
We call this “Isolation cardio” and it’s a big problem! Most people keep working out and bring in friends because they feel like they are a part of something, not because they can watch Seinfeld reruns on a treadmills. The good news is that cardio equipment manufacturers are trying to change their ways. The bad news is that they’re not quite there yet.
For gyms looking into new cardio equipment, IHRSA 2013 was the year of Connected Fitness. With Connected Fitness, new equipment will talk to the cloud to store preferences and workouts for you. Most of the big boys now have something to show. Precor has Preva. Matrix has M-Power. Technogym has Artis. Free Motion has iFit. LifeFitness is working on it. And Interactive Fitness (my company) has eLive.
We were interviewed by kurriosity.com the social network for healthy living. Go to 2:08 for the interview.
Connected Fitness, done right, is a very good thing for gyms. Done wrong, Connected Fitness is expensive and leaves your gym no better off than it was before. So what’s the difference? Gym owners should ask themselves one question:
Does all this new technology actually help the people at my gym connect with each other or does it further encourage “Isolation Cardio?”
Unfortunately, what I saw at IHRSA was a lot of technology, but not a lot of reason to be excited. Cardio equipment is now going to help you create and track goals and this is a good thing, but beyond this I’m not thrilled with the direction of the industry. Most Connected Fitness solutions are built around saving media preferences, like what are your favorite songs, TV shows, or websites. Making it easier to find your favorite show is great for your TV. It’s not great for your workout. This will further encourage “Isolation Cardio” and all this technology which could be so powerful will instead be wasted.
At Interactive Fitness, our philosophy is different. Our Expresso bikes make exercise fun with virtual reality workouts so that you don’t need to be distracted with video or internet content. Our Connected Fitness programs, like the Top 100 “Team Cardio” monthly challenges give you a reason to interact and connect by aligning your goals instead of encouraging media driven “Isolation Cardio.”
As a smaller company we have to be ahead of the curve in order to compete. I can only hope that for the sake of the industry that over time we demand cardio equipment that stops competing with our couches for entertainment value and starts creating real and compelling shared exercise experiences.