Technology is already changing the way we live and work and it’s also changing the way we keep fit.
An example is the group cycling class held in Virgin Active in Moorgate, London. The class is divided into three groups who essentially compete against each other by each person’s data being captured and projected onto a screen. This is called the Pack
Andy Caddy, Virgin Active Group Chief Information Officer, says, “We created the Pack in response to the growing demand for cycle-based classes and technology that tracks workout progress. It creates a wholly differentiated group cycle offering.”
With Virgin Active rolling out RFID (radio-frequency identification) bands that track members’ workout, the gym chain now designs products with technology firmly in the driving seat.
This use of technology in the fitness industry is supported by research by Mintel who confirm that technology has changed the way we keep fit from online booking systems, to seeing how busy gyms are in real time and fitness classes themselves now include technology so users can measure their performance.
Another development is the growing popularity of virtual classes. Fitness First for example offer its members more than 250 virtual classes. They are projected onto a large screen with live feed class cameras allowing people to move in real time with an instructor who isn’t in the room with them.
But not only is technology changing the way we book classes and then work out in them it is also impacting on gym contracts. PayasUgym is a case in point. They allow you to buy a short term passes at gyms nationwide for a discounted fee.
PayasUgym founder Jamie Ward says “Like Airbnb, Uber and Laundrapp, we provide customers with a way to find and use services they require on their own terms.”
An even larger example of this is a New York business called ClassPass. Users pay £110 a month to access unlimited classes and 8000 workout spots worldwide. The business claims that technology has enabled it to offer its customers amazing choice and flexibility. It’s certainly proving popular with 24 million reservations to date.
In addition to the above there’s also the growing popularity of apps that help us count calories and track nutrition. Last year 3 million wrist worn devices were sold, up from 1.4 million in 2014 (data supplied from Mintel). But what does the future hold with all this technology?
One idea is that technology will help drive the gym environment itself so rather than cycling in a gym room you could pop on a headset and be in the Alps or the Tour de France even. Others believe that all this technology will also develop ‘digital fitness instructors’ essentially computers who armed with all our performance data will be capable of setting fitness programmes for us.
The world of technology has changed the way we interact with our gym in the way we now book trainers and gym classes. Its also changed what we do in the class itself. And it is changing the way we monitor our fitness and performance.
The industry seems clear that this development is set to continue, so who knows that our gym will look like in the future!