Feature Article - November 2016
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From Muscle to Movement

Top Trends in Fitness Equipment

By Deborah L. Vence

How Has Equipment Changed?

Advancements in fitness equipment center on versatility.

"From the exerciser's standpoint, the equipment choices are more versatile and adaptive to accommodate different training methods and individual fitness levels. Customers are expecting more personalized products in everything they buy and use; fitness equipment is no exception," Hubbard said.

"There is a greater attention to detail with modern fitness equipment. Gone is the clumsy and utilitarian equipment from the '90s. In its place are more modern designs with greater fit and finish, ease of use," he said.

Also, technology has been a significant factor in how people work out and how they use machines.

"Cardio machines, for instance, are now outfitted with heart rate monitors, preset interval workouts and interactive consoles," Morelli said. "[The interactive consoles] connect with personal fitness apps and wearables, have customizable screens, and can include a multitude of entertainment options, including streaming video."

From a facility operator standpoint, solutions that include a proactive remote monitoring service that analyzes equipment diagnostics in real time can help discover and notify gym owners of any maintenance issues. "Facility operators can then act quickly to fix any down machines and ensure that their gyms are running smoothly," Morelli said.

"The technology advances have allowed gyms and their exercisers to become more connected with their workouts and machines," he said. "The benefit is that exercisers experience a better, customized workout, and facility operators are able to prevent and identify issues with equipment."

What Do Customers Want?

Facility operators want equipment they can rely on. "Product reliability is at the top of every operator's list. It goes beyond making equipment that simply doesn't break. Operators want equipment that looks good for the period of time they are going to own it," Hubbard said. "They don't want equipment that looks good on the tradeshow floor, but begins to squeak and rattle after the first year of use."

Hubbard's company focuses on keeping designs simple with fewer moving parts and more proven materials and technology.

"Operators want products that are thoughtfully designed for not just their members, but also their service technicians and cleaning crews," he said.

Actual users of the fitness equipment want it to be reliable and to function in a simple way to achieve their goals.

"Beyond that, they want engagement with the machine. Lastly, they want to achieve the same results in a shorter period of time," Hacker said.

The user experience, Morelli said, is a significant factor in customer satisfaction. "It's important to know your customer base, and what will benefit their workout routines the most," he said.

However, there are key factors that Morelli said should be considered when outfitting a facility. They include:

  • "Ease of use and comfort: Equipment should be easy to use. Inexperienced exercisers and professional athletes alike want to be able to approach a piece of equipment and learn how to properly perform the exercise intended." Equipment also should provide a comfortable user experience. And, when designed properly, equipment should move with an exerciser's natural body movement.
  • "Customization: With the technology advancements that have been made in the fitness industry, exercisers now expect customization and the ability to personalize their fitness equipment. This includes everything from connecting to wearables and fitness apps, interactive courses on consoles, and enabling connections to live stream music and other entertainment, such as Netflix."
  • "Accessibility: For the active aging demographic or exercisers recovering from injury, equipment should be accessible for everyone. This means having equipment on hand that lets exercises be independent and features that let individuals with limitations still complete an efficient workout."

Similarly, Guajardo said customers want equipment that is easy to use and tech ready. "They want it to fit to their space" and do more than just one thing. "They want more bang for their buck," he said.