IHRSA Fitness Trends - Interactive Experiences and Personal Performance Rule


As featured in Resort + Recreation Magazine
By Bryan Green, President, Advantage Fitness Products

Each year, there’s no better venue to get a snapshot of the trends in the fitness world tan at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association’s annual trade show, and 2008 was no exception. First, there’s been a dramatic shift in emphasis from developing a harder, more attractive body to performance in day-to-day life. The second development is the influence of digital technology on fitness and exercise. Together, these aspects can create a personalized and interactive fitness experience, focused on functional fitness measures.

Fitness “Fun & Games”

Interactive, digital-gamming products, like the popular Wii gaming device, allow consumers to become a part of the virtual world. One trip to a local arcade/entertainment center will find host of kids engaged in break-dancing competitions or martial arts battles against “virtual” opponents. This technology makes perfect sense in fitness, where exercise programs are found in these same competitive, gaming-based platforms. Some are calling this movement “exergamming.”

Motivatrix’s MX 10 workout Master offers up to 20 different options of game-based exercise programs. “Zak Attack” combines martial arts in a gamming format where the user punches and kicks virtual targets, earning points along the way. “Dash, Dart & Jump” users can jump, sprint and kick point-bearing targets, while also avoiding dangers and obstacles as they traverse a virtual world. Another company, Xavix, offers martial arts-based programs led by Jackie Chan himself. And I-Tech fitness is offering the XR-Cade, a gamming-based destination created within an existing fitness center that offers a variety of gamming-based exercise options.

Personal Training…To Go

USB-compatible storage devices, often called jump drives, are being integrated into the techno-fitness movement. These products can read the user’s jump drive to access personalized information and tailor exercise regiments based on that data.

Star Trac’s pre-designed cardio and strength programs allow users to track progress at home. Fitness centers can sell the software loaded USB sticks to members who will plug them into Star Trac’s E-Series cardio equipment and / or the company’s new Koko strength training machines. Performance data from each workout can then be downloaded onto personal computers to track progress in detail. Other products interface with Apple ipod devices. For example, the Nike Plus system is based on footwear containing a sensor that can compile data from cardio training, including mileage and pace. It’s then transferred to a personal computer for performance tracking. Originally designed for outdoor use, it’s now offered in gym settings by Precor, Technogym, Star Trac and Life Fitness.