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Life Fitness study finds technology vital to exercisers

Life Fitness survey finds 72 percent of fitness equipment users are using technology during workouts, yet only 32 percent of gym goers have access to equipment that interacts with their devices. Judging from what we’ve seen at the last few trade shows, the industry is catching up.

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It’s no secret we live in an age of technology.

According to Forbes, there is “nothing hotter” for consumers right now than tablets and smart phones. While fitness manufacturers are starting to get the message by releasing new equipment that incorporates the use of tablets and smartphones, a recent survey by Life Fitness showed many commercial facilities are lagging in offering smart equipment to consumers.

Results of a survey recently conducted by Life Fitness shows that 72 percent of respondents use technology to support their workout and 57 percent of respondents use their smartphones or tablets while working out, yet only 32 percent of gyms offer equipment that communicates with the users’ smart stuff.

While the data focused on gyms and whether consumers would be likely to pick a gym based on what kind of technology it provided via its equipment, it has implications for how people purchasing for their homes want as 51 percent of respondents said they were reaching their goals without a gym membership.

Plus, the research said that while smartphone and tablet users are in all ages, the younger generations are more connected. Since half the world’s population is younger than 30, their attitudes toward technology during workouts is favoriable.

The facts

According to IHRSA’s 2012 Global Report, of the more than 7 billion people in the world, 129,397,925 of those people are gym members.

The Life Fitness 2012 Fitness and Technology survey, which was conducted in collaboration with a third-party market research company Cint, asked about 745 of those exercisers around the world (specifically in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany and Brazil) how technology supports their workouts.

The findings included:

  • 72 percent of exercisers use technology during a workout. Many place a smartphone or tablet on exercise equipment to play music or videos during a workout, while a smaller number took advantage of equipment that connects to their devices, as well as built-in computer or video screens.
  • 57 percent of exercisers surveyed use a smartphone and/or tablet during their workout. Judging from the capabilities of equipment coming out in the next few seasons, it’s becoming increasingly commonplace in home equipment as well.
  • 76 percent of those surveyed age 50 or younger said they believed they would work out more if they had access to their personal content during exercise.
  • 33 percent of gym-goers said they would switch facilities if they had better Internet access and technology at gym with comparable pricing nearby.
  • 32 percent of gym-goers surveyed have access to gym equipment that connects and speaks to their smart devices.
  • The top content exercisers want access to during workouts is: music (42 percent), music videos (33 percent), workout videos (18 percent), movies (16 percent), internet access (14 percent), live sports (13 percent), sitcoms (13 percent) and workout progress screens (11 percent).

Closing the gap

Though only 32 percent of smart stuff users have access to equipment that speaks and connects to their devices, it looks as though that gap is about to close judging by what we saw at all the trade shows we’ve been to this year including IHRSA, Health & Fitness Business Expo and Club Industry.

One of the more notable stories came from BH Fitness. The company recently launched its i.Concept technology, which lets users of BH and Bladez equipment integrate their iPad and iPhones to be used as monitors.

The i.Concept app can be downloaded from the Apple App store and users can connect their iStuff to be used as the machine’s console where exercise programs are installed and can be updated whenever a new version is out. Plus, users can pick from classic programs like resistance or valley training, or they can participate (virtually of course) in popular events like the New York City Marathon. Exercisers can play games against and challenge themselves.

Bodyguard’s Imagine also uses iStuff. Exercisers can download the app from the Apple App Store and can then hook up iPads to their consoles and do everything from watch movies, play games and listen to their music through their equipment’s speakers, all while still being able to track their workout information.

Hoist has new iPad app for each of its home gyms. The app shows customized instructional videos and tracks your body metrics all on the exerciser’s personal smart device.

Though the Apple gadgets seem to be the focus of the fitness universe, Powertec has a new prototype Android app that helps users to measure the power of their reps, and record their results and improvement over time. Plus, it includes workout videos. The company does have an Apple app in the works though.

Users don’t necessarily have to bring their own smart devices. Companies like TechnoGym, with its Visioweb Cloud, Precor with its Preva Net and Life Fitness with its new tablet displays (not consoles) enabled with Netpulse, and Vision Fitness’ new touch-screen console also enabled with Netpulse.

Each company’s technology navigates much like a tablet, with touch-screen technology, the ability to hop on a website, read magazines, surf Facebook and even watch television. Plus, some of the equipment, like Life Fitness’s tablet display and Vision Fitness’ netpulse technology, feature destinations videos where people can run though beautiful global destinations or even through famous marathon courses.

–Ana Trujillo