Connected Fitness: Tech which brings fitness into people’s homes
It has taken a pandemic to show the world that in-home workouts are the future of fitness. Traditionally, for most people, fitness meant working out at the gym or participating in outdoor sports such as running, cycling, or even playing games such as football or basketball. Gradually, with busy lifestyles cutting into the time available for workouts, specialized gyms and fitness studios gained popularity.
From a room full of bicycles for spin classes to specifically designed studios for yoga, Pilates, HIIT, or CrossFit training, the environment in gyms motivates and pushes students, making it easier for them to achieve their fitness goals.
Despite this, not everyone makes an effort to go to a gym to work out as they lack the time or find a distance from home to be a setback. Of course, there are several options when it comes to working out without going to a fitness club or gym. From gaming-based workouts or sports on the Play Station or X-box, streamed workouts on smart devices such as the Amazon Firestick, to wearables and fitness apps with trackers that monitor step count, heart rate and other indicators, users have access to several choices, including customized training plans and prerecorded workouts with video demonstrations. Most apps also have online communities, providing users with the opportunity to interact and compete online with other members.
In a couple of years, with the advancements in Artificial Intelligence, connected fitness has been reinventing the concept of in-home workouts by offering a lot more than just wearables that track and record routines. In today’s digital world, connected fitness is all about combining one’s fitness goals with one’s screen life. Now, with social and physical distancing, it can prove to be the radical change that completely transforms the fitness industry.
Gymming as we know it will never be the same again due to people not wanting to share equipment or the closed space inside a fitness club. Already, brands such as Peloton, Mirror, FightCamp, and Tonal are taking the world by storm by leveraging the right technology to take fitness into people’s homes, using smart devices and equipment that offer a near experience (if not a better one) to working out in a high-end fitness studio or gym complete with state-of-the-art equipment and expert trainers.
What gives connected fitness equipment an edge amid COVID-19?
With the whole world going digital, connected fitness equipment points to the direction in which the health and fitness industry is headed, especially in the current scenario where social distancing is likely to be the new norm. Connected fitness brands offer a range of benefits that provide a superior user experience from the safety of one’s home:
1. AI-enabled Connected fitness devices to provide custom workouts
Unlike in a gym, where the customization of a workout depends on the expertise and experience of the trainer and his or her ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of an individual, connected fitness provides in-home workouts with AI-enabled real-time feedback based on the user’s movements to create an ideal workout that aims at improving fitness levels.
FightCamp, an at-home boxing solution that offers connected fitness, uses punch trackers to measure the user’s strikes, based on which a variety of suitable workouts are provided, to the accompaniment of uplifting music and with online trainers. It motivates the students to challenge their limits, offering a satisfying workout. Similarly, Tonal, which focuses on weight training at home, is a connected fitness device with AI-enabled personal training that uses electromagnetic resistance for adjusting the difficulty level of the exercise in real-time.
2. Connected fitness: Workouts to suit every member of the family
In a gym or a fitness studio, the user’s choices are dependent to a certain extent on the daily schedule of group classes or the availability of the trainer. Connected fitness devices offer the advantage of on-demand workouts in a variety of formats to suit the user’s fitness level, age, or preference.
Mirror, which is an in-home fitness device featuring a smart screen enabled with two-way audio and video, offers users a range of interactive online workouts from yoga, cardio, and strength to barre, boxing, and more under the guidance of expert trainers. Peloton, which started with a bike, has expanded its offering to include a treadmill as well as a digital app with a range of on-demand, online, instructor-led workouts.
3. Connected fitness enables an Interactive and engaging experience
One of the main draws of connected fitness equipment and memberships is that they offer a competitive environment with real-time feedback from a trainer, matching the excitement and engagement of being in an in-person class while working out in the comfort of one’s home. They are more engaging and interactive compared to the one-sided experience offered by fitness apps and wearables.
Besides the convenience of using high-tech equipment at home to take a top-quality fitness class with an instructor who motivates one to push limits, one of the key drivers of connected fitness is the supportive and competitive community of users. Peloton’s official Facebook page has a following of over 599,000, who connect with one another by posting photographs and updates of their workouts.
4. No compromise with safety and hygiene with connected fitness
Even high-end studios and exclusive gyms are not as hygienic as the home environment. Due to multiple users handling the equipment and the insufficient time to do a thorough cleaning in between classes, the chances of contracting infections is high and becomes even more relevant in the present situation where social interaction with strangers increases the risk of falling prey to the virus.
5. Connected fitness - Sleek, convenient, and immersive experience
Previously, installing a home gym setup required a separate space in the house for setting up the fitness equipment or accessories, whether it was a treadmill, stationary cycle, or multi-gym with weights. Connected fitness devices are sleek and compact, requiring just a corner of a room or a wall to deliver the complete experience.
Tonal, which is a device that is smaller than a flatscreen TV, has a patented technology for digital weights. The device allows users to lift by adding one-pound increments up to a maximum of 200 pounds. Mirror too has a small footprint as it requires just two feet of wall space to provide a complete range of in-home workouts that recreate the studio experience.
How connected fitness devices compare to gyms in terms of cost?
Connected fitness equipment and devices are expensive since users have to purchase the equipment as well as memberships to get the complete in-home workout experience. For example, besides buying a Peloton bike ($2,245) or a treadmill ($4,295), users need to pay $39 per month towards an all-access membership subscription to benefit from the full range of workouts.
FightCamp, which is the most affordable of the connected fitness devices, starts at $1,219 for the equipment, including the punch trackers, workout mat, freestanding bag, quick wraps, and premium boxing gloves. It requires an additional $39 per month to be paid towards membership. Mirror costs $1,495 with $39 per month towards membership, while Tonal costs $2,995 along with $49/month membership.
The initial investment might appear to be high, but the companies offer convenient financing options for the equipment, ranging from $42 to $149 per month. The cost varies from one brand to the other. While budget gyms cost as low as $10 per month, the membership at elite gyms or fitness clubs works out to as much as $100 per person on average. That is without factoring in the additional costs towards joining fees, multiple center access, specialist classes, costs of traveling to the gym as well as personal training.
However, considering the benefit of on-demand workouts at home, besides safety, which is a crucial factor in the current environment that prescribes the need for social distancing, the difference in cost is marginal.
The future of connected fitness
Currently, connected fitness companies are reinventing the way people workout from the comfort of their home, and they offer an ideal solution for keeping fit in times of social distancing. However, they could completely transform the health and wellness sector in a broader sense.
Since they are AI-enabled, in the future, these devices could provide an entire range of health solutions for diet and nutrition, sleep, and mindfulness, with personalized offerings based on the data collected from an individual. They could even go a step further, connecting users to medical professionals, physical therapists, and doctors, thereby saving the effort of a trip to the clinic.
Role of TechAhead in connected fitness applications
With social distancing likely to be the new norm for some time, developing connected fitness mobile app solutions can be the best way forward for fitness tech start-ups or gyms and studios, that are looking at expanding their offering by providing in-home workouts in real-time. With years of experience in developing mobile apps and web apps, including fitness apps, as well as AI-based solutions, TechAhead’s team has the expertise to build software solutions for fitness companies like TheHealthyMummy.
Connected fitness solutions may not entirely replace gyms and boutique fitness studios in the short term. However, in the current scenario with social distancing being the norm, they are the best solution for fitness startups and studios to innovate and offer customized workout to fitness enthusiasts who want to continue to work towards their goals through in-home workouts that they can access even through lockdowns or quarantines.
Until now, connected fitness referred to wearables and fitness apps, but connected fitness equipment, which is relatively new, has the potential to disrupt the fitness marketplace by providing a more connected, informed and effective way to stay healthy and fit without having to step out of the safe environment at home.