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Web Exclusive - October 2017

The Gym Gets Smarter

Ellipticals, Treadmills Integrate With Fitness Trackers

By Deborah L. Vence


The way exercise enthusiasts keep track of their overall fitness goals has changed quite a bit over the years. Activity trackers are available now to monitor the distance someone has walked or run, and even to record how many calories are consumed in a day. Information can then be synced to a computer or smartphone to keep track of progress over time.

For sure, new developments have come about in recent times, too, with fitness machines being able to be integrated with wearable technology.

"The top trend I'm seeing right now in smart gyms are ellipticals and treadmills being connected to the Internet-of-Things and integrating with wearable fitness trackers to provide more accurate workout summaries," said Grace Pinegar, research specialist at G2 Crowd, a peer-to-peer business solutions review platform based in Chicago.

Pinegar said IoT integration could allow machines to recognize wearables and automatically adjust to the weight or resistance level aligned with a user's fitness plan.

"Extreme personalization could keep members accountable and engaged, which in turn, may even increase membership retention," she said.

In terms of how smart gyms are changing the fitness industry, Pinegar has been exploring how virtual reality could affect everyday life.

"I believe that we'll begin to see it in group fitness classes. Cycling class with VR [virtual reality] capabilities would give participants the feeling of biking along the Pacific coast or in the Tour De France," she said.

"Intel has developed this video portrayal of what gyms could be like in the future. The idea is that gyms will be able to offer a personalized workout experience based off previously attained health data. We could also see a reduction in the number of injuries with smart machines that are able to detect incorrect usage," Pinegar said.

Smart machines could help develop customized workout plans for users based on personal fitness goals, as well as providing gym members with a more cohesive view of their health.

"Gym-goers will no longer be tasked with manually recording each rep, lap or mile, allowing them to maintain their focus and streamline their fitness journey," she said.

"Smart gyms," she added, "will be able to arm individuals with the information they need to understand their health, track changes and meet their fitness goals."