IoT Hits the Gym, Too
November 3, 2016


To some, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a futuristic concept of connectivity that’s linked to things like smart buildings and cars — so it might be surprising to find out that IoT is making its way into gyms and workouts, as well. And we’re not just talking about Fitbit — companies are coming up with smart equipment that can sync with apps, push your resistance, track your workout progress, and much more. Given that fitness is a multi-million dollar industry, there need to be new innovations to keep people moving, and IoT may just bring about a whole new world of high-tech workout progress. Here are some of the trends we’ve spotted so far:

A Smarter Workout
One thing that hasn’t changed in the fitness world is that people are always looking for a faster, more effective workout. Now that exercise is becoming more interconnected with devices and apps, it’s amazing to see the strides that are being made towards creating all-in-one workout equipment.

For example, Mashable profiled a Hong Kong-based startup called Move It, which is looking to bring a small, portable system of gym equipment to market — except this set of equipment has smarts. The four components — consisting of a push up stand, an ab wheel, a resistance band, and a jump rope — are connected by Bluetooth to inform each other of how hard the user is working. There’s also a social component, allowing users to post their workout results online.

Although Move It isn’t particularly portable, given that the set weighs about 11 lbs when it’s stored together, Victoria Ho, Mashable’s Asia editor touts that “the set could be good to spur on a couch potato keen to get up and get moving, or an older person who wants to up their fitness level” – which definitely could make it a great choice for someone who can’t make it to the gym every day.

Connected Equipment
With all the gym chains out there, it’s remarkable to see how many still rely on the same old equipment technology that hasn’t advanced much in the last couple decades. This could be a major reason why many gyms see a drop-off in membership — because the machines aren’t doing much to continually motivate the users. At least, that’s what an article at TechCrunch thinks, as they report on the potential solution: eGym, a German startup that creates cloud and app software to help improve gyms.

eGym Cloud focuses on providing its members with an all-around better gym experience — from data-based personal fitness plans to in-person trainer instruction. The plan evolves as the gym member does, because all the while, the gym collects data on its members’ workouts. The goal is to continually provide users with progress reports and results, which will hopefully motivate them to work harder, and keep paying to be a gym member. There’s also the neat high-tech twist of wristbands alerting the gym machines of the user’s identity, and the ability to view analytics after the workout is complete.

If a full on eGym isn’t your style though, you can find a more widely known gym that has connected equipment, like the HOIST fitness machines which are found in 24 Hour Fitness gyms, among others, across the country. The company offers two free apps (that we designed and developed) to work with its strength system and its indoor cycle bikes. The HOIST Strength app provides both a library of exercises to scroll through as well as the ability to track workouts, body measurements, and create original workouts. The app acts a personal trainer, but can also be used as a personal training supplement — it’s great to be able to show your trainer your logged workouts. You can even send your results to your personal trainer in CSV or text form.

The HOIST Bikes app works much in the same way, but with a truly IoT addition: the Bluetooth functionality links the app to the cycle bike. Once you’ve finished your ride, the app will provide you with an overview of your progress (and if you made any new personal records) as well as comparing the day’s results to past workouts. The app can also track heart rate, calories burned, and RPM. It seems likely we’ll be seeing more Bluetooth-enabled exercise bikes in the near future, given how well the machines can sync with apps.

Gyms of the Future
Exercise will always be necessary, but it needs to evolve to keep up with our need for better tracking and results. Fortunately, IoT is making it easier to connect with apps and equipment that give us a clearer picture of how hard we’re working (or how hard we need to work). The end result is a smarter gym, and hopefully a smarter workout.

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