Feature Article - November 2016
Find a printable version here

From Muscle to Movement

Top Trends in Fitness Equipment

By Deborah L. Vence

Maintenance Best Practices

Maintaining fitness equipment begins by purchasing equipment from a trusted supplier that can provide parts and trained technicians to support your facility.

"Having a preventive maintenance plan is essential. This should be written down with the exact process and service frequency," Hubbard said.

"Too many operators rely instead on a reactionary approach to fixing problems as they arise. In addition, keeping equipment clean is critical for customer satisfaction and equipment longevity," he said.

This involves more than just a simple wipe-down by staff or members.

"From the technology front, we are seeing operators take advantage of service analytics in cloud-based solutions with their networked equipment," Hubbard said. "Recently, [our company] has had the most success with our status light directly on the equipment," he said, adding that "it allows operators to simply look down the row of equipment and know instantly if any product is in need of service."

Hacker suggested some best practices include "Setting up a scheduled routine based on manufacturer recommendations and usage. Allow for rotation of equipment."

It's normal for certain areas of a gym to see more traffic than others. To ensure machines aren't being overused while some are left untouched, facility managers can rotate equipment on a periodic basis, ensuring less wear and tear on select machines, Morelli explained, adding that his company offers solutions that help facilities accomplish this by monitoring individual machines.

Less Is More

When it comes to fitness itself, a growing trend is exercising in less time, with high intensity interval training (HIIT) becoming a popular workout to accomplish this.

"Exercisers looking for a quick session can get in an effective workout in around 30 minutes," Morelli said.

And, with its rise in popularity, manufacturers are offering fitness equipment that can be used for HIIT.

For example, Morelli's company has a group training system that offers several configuration choices and accessory options. "These systems, used for small group or solo training, let exercisers accomplish a variety of workout goals through rotating stations, such as cable motion, boxing space and rebounders," he said.

Other machines, such as step machines, rowers and other cardio machines also can be used for HIIT, helping exercisers to get in and out of the gym in a shorter period of time, but still see the results of an effective workout.

"Equipment certainly plays a role in this, and it will be increasingly important that the equipment and programming be seamlessly integrated," Hubbard said.

His company recently partnered with another fitness company that designs and delivers health and performance game plans that guide athletes, the military and innovative companies. The companies want to develop a personalized training system that delivers programs customized for each exerciser right on the product console.

"These programs are designed to maximize workout efficiency and effectiveness," he said.

Hacker agreed that high intensity training is the new trend.

"Fitness equipment must continue to provide users with accurate data of achieved results," he said. "Equipment pieces can continue to evolve to focus on this goal of users."

For instance, two of his company's products, a lateral trainer and an incline trainer, both provide solutions for high intensity training.

"The [lateral trainer] provides greater muscle activation over a traditional elliptical, while the [incline trainer] allows a user to work at a significant incline, up to 30 percent. Equipment will need to be adaptable to engage both strength and cardio into a routine," Hacker said.

Guajardo agreed that exercisers are trying to do more in less time. "That's the movement," he said. "You get smarter coaches within smarter spaces."