The UK country manager for SportsArt, Roger Eldergill, says “self-powered bikes and steppers have been around for a long time, but it’s the advent of self-powered treadmills that’s really exciting”. With NOHrD, Primal Strength and Woodway now launching self-powered treadmills it seems this piece of equipment will continue to increase in popularity.
Technogym and Matrix do not only have the desire to be environmentally friendly but are both heavily interested in the sports performance capabilities, something that is clearly evident from the marketing of their new products. The users of this equipment can combine the four aspects of power, speed, stamina and agility training, at the same time.
The SkillMill treadmill is being positioned as the ideal piece of equipment for functional and performance training. Programmes are available on the MyWellness app to be downloaded or simply by scanning QR codes.
Furthermore, the treadmill has been tested by Italy’s University of Padova, and has been shown to bring about higher activation of the posterior chain, in comparison to the traditional treadmill. By increasing resistance and assuming a sled-pushing position, the same level of activation as high as glute-targeted exercises is achieved.
In 2016, Bannatyne will be one of the first of the UK’s national gym chains to launch the Technogym SkillMill, along with other personal training studios showing an interest.
At IHRSA 2016, Matrix Fitness launched the S-Drive Performance Trainer which is designed to deliver weighted sleds, resistance parachutes and harness systems in one piece of equipment. As a result, the S-Drive offers sled-pushing and intense sprinting workouts. Its features include high resistance levelled parachutes which stimulate outdoor parachute resistance.
Moreover, explosiveness in sprinters and strength building can be improved by the seven-degree fixed incline, without changing the athlete’s natural gait. At the same time, a dedicated sled bar which is combined with a sled brake offers eight resistance settings. This has the effect of pushing 270lbs.
Octane Fitness has provided another performance angle with its new ‘Zero Runner’ self-powered zero-impact running machine. By reducing the repetitive impact, the Zero Runner allows users to optimise their form whilst engaging the core and also activating the hamstrings and glutes. This piece of equipment allows a stride length of up to 58-inches to accommodate size. Also included, is the ‘live stride tracing’ stride analysis functionality which further helps users to perfect their stride and ultimately become a more efficient runner.
The digital and product marketing manager at Technogym, Craig Swyer, explains ‘sports performance’ doesn’t need to mean ‘elite’. Swyer says, ‘Whereas HIIT used to only be seen at specialised performance gyms, it’s now becoming a regular addition at mainstream facilities- and the ‘get on and go’ capability of self-powered treadmills makes them a perfect fit for HIIT programmes and group circuit classes.’
The commercial director for Cybex UK, Rob Thurston, believes there are other trends which are contributing to the growth in this area too. He says ‘floor space remains at a premium in almost all gyms’ therefore ‘self-powered equipment allows the flexibility to move equipment easily and position it almost anywhere on the floor, without the need for a power supply.’
Thurston further supports the use of self-powered treadmills due to their sustainability advantages. He says these pieces of equipment offer a suitable ‘green’ alternative that often requires ‘minimal maintenance’ compared to ‘traditional cardio equipment’.
Amongst the fitness industry, many appear to agree the green angle is an important aspect. This is because both health clubs and their members want to become more socially responsible.
Clubs have the ability to save on energy costs by installing self-powered equipment. 1Life has installed Intenza cardio equipment, which is situated at two of its sites. The Managing Director, Neil King, explains how this decision has a direct link to the operator’s environmental strategy.
In addition to this, Woodway treadmills are currently on the top of the list for David Lloyd Leisure’s club refurbishments. Similar to 1Life, this decision is due to the few power requirements needed by self-powered treadmills. DLL’s Michelle Dand admits that although they can be expensive they offer ‘excellent quality’ and ‘don’t use any power and there’s less to go wrong with them’.
Eldergill also believes sustainability is the main driving force behind the increasing interest in self-powered equipment. On the other hand, he questions whether the trend will ever truly become mainstream. If so, this would only be the case if a club’s business model were to be based on sustainability and a paired-back approach to technology. He further goes on to say it would be a ‘brave organisation’ to only go down the self-powered route. Eldergill also explains their clients who run clubs which are aimed towards a younger demographic, universities in particular, have noticed a ‘demand for integrated screens on treadmills’ which enable users to engage with the internet and social media whilst working out.
Intenza has made developments in order to address this issue; its E series range of equipment (although requiring power for integrated TV screens), features an eco-light on the console which lights up when the user is exercising at a consistent level where the power they generate from their exercise allows the whole machine to be powered simply from this. As well as saving money for the operator, this has the added benefit for the consumer as it provides a challenge for the exerciser- and a feel good factor when the light comes on.
This new focus on sports performance is an interesting angle to push, even though the mass market’s desire to access the internet during their workouts may potentially suggest the appeal of self-powered equipment is highly likely to be finite.
Finally, the research of Woodway shows that walking on their Curve treadmill can burn 30% more calories than walking on traditional treadmills. With this in mind, the company is now working with clubs and master planners in order to develop programmes designed for small group circuit classes. This area of product innovation is reaching a peak; if manufacturers are able to position their products correctly by taking them beyond riches, the growth is likely to continue to increase for quite some time yet.