Feature Article - November 2017
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Fitness on the Move

Equipment Evolves With Programming Innovation

By Rick Dandes

Relevance and Innovation

Functional training is certainly at the top of everyone's list of what will be hot in fitness facilities in the next decade, Mocherman said. Her company has a product that provides a scalable platform from which to build a small group or one-on-one personal training. "Operators want to provide new and relevant training tools, but are fearful of being saddled with obsolete equipment as trends rapidly change," Mocherman said.

Equipment is just one part of the equation, however. As equipment progresses, the education and training provided to staff must also advance. Operators need to make sure that they have invested in training for their staff and have partnered with suppliers that can provide more than just equipment.

Most cardio equipment will increasingly link to wearables, Maloney predicted. There will also be links to apps on smartphones. "Most of the time, all you have to do is step on a machine, wave your watch in front of it and it pulls all your profile, and saves your workout so you can look at it online. I think heart-rate training is big and here to stay. Although it's been around for a long time, it's now even more popular when synced with wearables."

Heart-rate monitors have gotten better and smaller and easier to use. Maloney explained the idea of heart-rate training, "You train in that orange heart-rate zone, and that is as high as you can go before you get into the red. Heart-rate monitors and big TV screens are used to keep you in the orange and not the red zone. That adds another level to the idea of group training; you can all train and help and see each other, motivating each other to work harder and do better."

Besides wearables, Maloney likes old-school iron, kettlebells and things that don't necessarily depend on electronics. "Our idea at the Institute is that principles don't change, variables and messages do. The same equipment, the same ideas, just used in a different fashion."

Some people will always stick with the more traditional treadmills, Maloney said. "It's a way to get the heart rate going. As far as training goes, we use treadmills for some sprint work and tempo work. That is the one nice thing—you can set a good tempo, a consistent tempo, whereas if you are on a track you slow down or speed up. Ellipticals still have their place, if that's your thing and you need your 30 minutes of exercise. At least you're moving. Are there better ways of training or working out? I think so. But if that is what gets you moving, fantastic. Do that. Get on a treadmill, an elliptical, a recumbent bike, whatever. As long as you're moving."

Old ideas packaged in a new way is a likely scenario for the future, Januszek said. "There is not a huge amount that is really new, like catcher barrels and some form of suspension training. Gymnastic rings have been around forever, so it is a matter of how you package them. As a company, we look at movements like squats and dead lifts as important to fitness programs. This is my issue: What you need to do is look at the person who is working out and ask what that the person needs and what is the most effective way of reaching that goal. Package things differently, whether in a class or programming, or whether the equipment is made to look different. Sleds on a track with ropes can be exciting, pushing and pulling. It's all in how you package it."

All this is well and good, Januszek noted as a parting suggestion. But in the final analysis, there needs to be a shift in the way businesses look at equipment. "The latest equipment is a means to an end," he said. "What you need to do is look at the people in your facility and say, 'What is the best way to serve those members?' In some cases, it might not be the latest and greatest thing. But if you get that environment right, if you get the right trainer with the right knowledge and education, and make the experience look great, then you'll get people to come to your facility, they will get the results they want, and they will come back."