Physical fitness and the concept of working out, has come a long way since the days that Jane Fonda told us to “feel the burn.” Today, walk into any gym or health club and you’re bound to find a wide array of exercise options, from group classes in everything from cycling to pole dancing, to intense regimens like CrossFit.
However, much like nearly every other aspect of our lives, fitness has been drastically influenced by technology. While there is still no way to get six-pack abs or buns of steel without doing the work, the way that we work out and how we keep track of information related to our health and fitness have changed significantly thanks to technology. In fact, there are a few major trends in this area that are bound to make a big impact on fitness in the future.
Wearable fitness monitors aren’t really anything new; millions of people have worn some type of device, such as a FitBit or Jawbone, for a few years now (and the wearable market is expected to grow from $12 billion in 2015 to $95.3 billion by 2021). However, the devices themselves are becoming more advanced all the time, not only improving in accuracy, but also in terms of the features they offer. Now it’s possible to measure not only the number of steps you take, but you can also get emails, texts, and phone calls, and sync your device with other applications to better track your health, all with a sleek device that in some cases looks like a piece of jewelry.
In the next few years, expect the fitness wearables market to expand beyond the common wristbands, though. Researchers are working on developing other devices to monitor fitness, developing everything from athletic clothing to shoes equipped with analog sensors designed to get a more accurate picture of your overall fitness and activities. Soon, it may be possible to track your steps directly from your sneakers, or for your athletic wear to measure your pulse, respiration, and body temperature and send that information to an application to give you a more accurate picture of your performance, and help you make adjustments to improve.
2. Cloud Computing
The cloud has become an integral part of our daily lives at work and home, and it’s now taking over the gym as well. Most new exercise equipment — treadmills, elliptical machines, etc. — are now being equipped with cloud computing capabilities. Using personal touchscreens (another major trend in fitness equipment) exercisers can access a wide array of content from the cloud, ranging from workout routines to their own personal health and workout information.
Imagine being able to log in to a treadmill at the gym and choose from an array of workout and entertainment options, and have all of the data about your workout automatically recorded and analyzed, helping you adjust your workouts and meet your goals faster. Later, you can log in to the same application from your mobile device to adjust your goals, get personalized recommendations, and more content, such as recipes and health news. Such services are quickly becoming reality, with more fitness manufacturers realizing that adding cloud services to their machines creates a richer experience and more satisfied customers.
You’re running through a dark forest, with some mysterious beast breathing down your neck. As you reach a clearing, you turn to fight, besting the monster with your killer cardio kickboxing moves. No, this isn’t a dream — this is your workout. While it’s not yet available in gyms, researchers are working on simulation equipment that would immerse exercisers in a virtual reality environment that mimics the sights, sounds, smells, and feeling of being somewhere other than a gym.
It could be a frightening scenario like the one described above, or something a little less adrenaline-boosting, like a run along a tropical shore. In either case, expect to see simulation technology in your gym in the near future, especially as VR starts to grow in popularity and becomes more affordable.
These are just a few of the ways the fitness technology is changing — and the fitness center of tomorrow is bound to look much different than those of today. As innovative technology continues to be integrated with health and fitness equipment, our own understanding of our health and what we need to do to stay fit and healthy will undoubtedly improve, and help us become stronger and healthier.