Personal Health Technology, Workforce Health | By | 10/10/18 | 3 Minute Read

Pump Up Your Fitness Center with Smart Tech

Local and corporate gyms are moving from dumbbells to smart tools, as fitness clubs are starting to drastically modify their offerings to accommodate the changing workout landscape. With the right technology, the gym of the future will push fitness training to an elite new level.

To stay on par with popular training centers such as Crunch, Orange Theory, Brrn, CrossFit, and Soulcycle, your corporate fitness center may need a dose of smart tech. Here’s a sampling of some of the latest innovations that can help your employees personalize their training, stay motivated with virtual and robotic coaching, and even breathe easier.

Augmented training. No fitness program today would be complete without networked digital devices that can enhance the workout experience. Virtual reality (VR) environments, such as the ones from Holodia can add a new level of realistic training to stationary rowing and biking machines and treadmills. Augmented reality fitness environments such as Zombies, Run! provide motivation that may help runners stay out longer and go faster (to escape a zombie apocalypse, or course).

The training room itself is getting more efficient with biometric-controlled machines. Intel predicts that in the gym of the future, facial recognition technology will be used to identify people instantly as they enter the training room and start the routine. The networked fitness equipment will recognize each individual, adapt the machines to personal strength preferences, and guide each athlete through weight training via a digital coach.

Exercise robocoaches. Training assistants in the smart gym may include gym-bots and robocoaches that can teach dance, exercise classes, and help with rehabilitation programs. For example, in Singapore, more than 25 senior centers have robocoaches that lead fitness classes and demonstrate exercises. Pre-programmed with 10-minute exercise routines and music, these robotic instructors can monitor up to a six people at a time and offer feedback on whether they are performing exercises correctly.

Virtual coaching. If you’re not ready to hire a robot, try a virtual instructor. Peloton offers fitness bikes and treadmills for home and commercial use that connect athletes to live trainers. Its machines have screens for on-demand and live virtual classes with remote instructors. Options include running, walking, bootcamp, stretching, yoga, and strength training. Users can also share metrics from Peloton workouts automatically to their Fitbit accounts.  

Having an always-ready coach available can be a valuable tool for motivation, whether your employees are in your gym or at home. Fitbit offers a personalized training app, Fitbit Coach, that gives users with a Premium account access to unlimited adaptive video workouts and audio coaching.

Another coaching innovation on the horizon is coming from Mirror, which has plans to offer cardio, yoga, and strength training via a responsive display—a full-length smart mirror that includes speakers, cameras, and a microphone for two-way interactions during live classes.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) monitoring. Last but not least, make sure your fitness space has good air quality, as highly trafficked rooms can become a repository for germs, particulates, and CO2. A study in Building and Environment found unacceptably high levels of carbon dioxide and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particles when testing multiple indoor fitness centers. The study found the highest levels of CO2 in interior indoor cycling rooms and noted that high levels can make athletes feel sluggish or dizzy.

To see if you are providing a healthy exercise environment, consider adding an air quality monitor, as technology advances have made them affordable. One example is Advantech’s WebAccess+IAQ, which visualizes real-time air information collected by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors in each fitness room, making indoor air quality management easier.

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