Updated: Jan 19, 2020
Ok, when we think of connected fitness we think of Peloton. An at-home or in-gym bike (now treadmill) connected to live streamed and on-demand classes with motivating instructors serving up not only an effective workout, but a social connection at the ready. Once this was a lonely space to step onto with just you and a few buttons to push. Now you've got motivation, accountability, and a team of supporters urging you to "kill it", "smash it", beat your personal best and compete (and win) against your virtual neighbor.
This is a new frontier, an alternate universe, and humans of all ages are dialing in and wanting more. The top gym equipment players are listening loud and clear. The makers of these big cardio and strength machines you see lining the gyms are now stepping up their game and opening up a virtual can of fitness experiences with top talent to lead the charge.
Top Connected Fitness Machines and their Unique Offer:
Peloton. Their tagline - "Game Changing "Live" Fitness Comes Home". They now offer both Bike+Tread. They boast "All Access Pass to Instructor-led Studio Classes Anywhere Anytime" and offer LIVE + ON-DEMAND classes including running, cycling, strength, yoga, and meditation. Classes are viewed on their 24" HD tablet to make the experience immersive. You can also compete with other riders (based on cadence) who have taken the same class or are currently taking the live class with you. There are new rides added daily and the level of instruction is entertainer status with motivating music to match. You can tap the heart next to the track name to add it to a favorite's list on your profile and connect your Spotify or Apple Music account. The true community and tribal effect comes during a "live" class when you get a shout out from your fave instructor, like you're in the room. Even though it's about $2,000 for the bike (with a free pair of spin shoes) and a monthly subscription fee of $39, the challenges, benefits, experience and community are all worth it. You can also high five other riders by double tapping their profile pic on the leaderboard. This all leads to working out with your band of brother and sisters and being motivated to show up and ride hard!
Mirror. Their tagline - "The Future of Fitness is at HOME". They offer both LIVE + ON-DEMAND classes, including Barre, Boxing, Strength, Cardio and Yoga with 70+ new live classes weekly and tens of thousands of workouts in their library. You get a Mirror, which looks like a regular mirror when off, but turns into a screen for the workouts. You'll pay about $1,495 for the mirror with a subscription fee of $39 per month to access their classes. You see the instructor as well as your own reflection, so you're getting a one-on-one experience while checking in on your form and alignment. It also tracks your performance with scores based off exertion. Look for "LIVE" personal training in the near future with a two-way camera!
NordicTrak. Their tagline - “Life Controls the Machine”. Their motto is it's all about the personal trainer making you better. Their Globe Trek workouts are from "hand-selected" top trainers from around the globe broadcasting from exotic locations. You can add friends to join your workout and together experience a new hot spot with workouts matching the local terrain so you feel like you're actually riding up a mountain or running on the beach. These guided workouts are both LIVE + ON-DEMAND. Nordic Trak also offers the iFit Coach App, allowing you to create custom workout schedules, meal plans, and even track sleep.
LifeFitness Treadmill with Track + Cardio Console connects you to a list of top fitness apps while you're working out. Their workout tracking system motivates you to achieve your fitness goals. Their system interacts with Apple and Android devices, which lets you track your progress using your fave fitness apps with the option of creating your own custom workouts. They now have Life Fitness On-Demand (available on all Life Fitness Cardio) filmed from New York City's NeoU.
eGym prides themselves on the "next generation of digital fitness technology" and a "state-of-the-art training concept for the future". eGym boasts 18 fully electronic, ergonomic designed machines for all major muscle groups. Each digital training machine offers training fundamentals to ensure proper body alignment with effective muscle stimulation and periodization. Each machine has a large touchscreen showing guided exercises. By connecting hardware and software they've created eGym ONE, a software-based technology that creates a digital connectivity across all areas of the gym including gym equipment, apps, trackers as well as management software.
TechnoGym. Their cross trainer "Cross Personal" comes with the "UNITY personalized entertainment console". The UNITY allows for a customized experience by tailoring programs based on your fitness needs while tracking results. Their Skill Run machines offer guided sessions with a digital interface that makes it easy to change speeds and adjust for different terrains.
Matrix Virtual Coaching aims to push the limits of their users and keep them motivated. Their "Virtual Active" workouts takes the fitness enthusiast to exotic locations worldwide and the hi-def footage speeds up or slows down to match the user’s pace or resistance, the incline matches the terrain. Virtual Active is their most immersive with over 20 "Landmarks" to experience. With "Landmarks", their Stepper and ClimbMill workouts become expeditions to various "wonders of the world". At every stop you get a quick lesson about the land. Their Sprint 8 program offers HIIT training for accelerated results.
Tonal, a start up based in San Francisco, looks like a vertical TV screen that attaches to the wall and has arms attached that look like a traditional weight machine. But instead of metal weights, it's a digital system using magnets and electricity offering up to 200 lbs of resistance. The touchscreen plays trainer led workouts as well as posts your progress during a workout. Extra Accessories include - Smart Handles, Smart Bar, a rope, bench, mat, and roller.
Equinox/Soul Cycle are offering up the now expected mix of "virtual" and "live" to fit and fill the needs of its fanbase. The Equinox, SoulCycle, and Precision Run studio classes deliver the "experience" their community craves with heart-pounding music and interactive light colors to create a "club" feel, promising a transformative escape from the throws of reality. They also have a "test lab" for different types of classes including yoga, HIIT and martial arts. Also look out for their play in the connected fitness machine space with rowing, weight training, cardio...with monthly subscriptions at price points similar to Peloton.
Honorable Mention -
The fitness landscape is constantly changing just as our natural ecosystem is via human consumption, demands, expectations and immediate needs. Both need to be mindfully navigated to preserve its core and vital existence as well as open up its exponential possibilities.