Guest Column - January 2005
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Entertainment for Exercisers

Fitness and Exercise

By Bob Quast

It's widely known that users of cardiovascular equipment highly value some form of entertainment when exercising. Only a few years ago that meant subscribing to some magazines and newspapers, but times have changed. In recent years, the entertainment offering has expanded to include live TV and radio as well as watching DVDs and listening to CDs, which help make the workout time seem to go a lot faster.

Fitness equipment manufacturers offer a wide range of entertainment solutions to help ensure members have a variety of options to help keep them motivated. Just as you would do before purchasing any piece of fitness equipment for your facility, decide which entertainment system best meets your budget and your members' needs. Today, entertainment systems are available in a variety of formats.

Top-of-the-line offerings

Integrated LCD entertainment systems are typically the most functional and fully featured. Equipped with sophisticated technology, these built-in LCD consoles provide for entertainment and simple navigation among program options and workout data through either touch-screen or console controls. Audio is accessible with standard headphones.

Most reputable manufacturers will have conducted biomechanical research to ensure the screen is ergonomically designed and positioned to reduce glare and provide the most comfortable viewing placement regardless of user height. The screens should offer TV-quality video, and the viewing areas are about 12.1 inches diagonally (11 inches by 12 inches).

The integrated systems also often are equipped with an integrated tuner to let users listen to local FM radio stations (facilities need to supply equipment required for signal reception) via controls and standard headphones. On some integrated systems, facilities have the option to make available different languages such as Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish, so end-users can choose their preferred language for interaction with the console.

And finally, some have a secure channel feature that allows facilities to deliver their own video content, such as closed-circuit television and pay-per-view programming (video source and corresponding equipment required).

The channel enables operators to password protect the channel and use it for select programming. DVD/MP3 attachments also are available.