Fitness equipment is embracing technology quickly. I suspect that fitness equipment makes such as treadmill manufacturers are frustrated with trying to stay up-to-date with technology.
In the past a new treadmill model would be on the market for several years because not much changed from year to year with treadmill technology except for maybe a little more horsepower.
Then came cushioning technology and computers. These 2 elements of treadmills were game-changers in many ways.
Cushioning technology took a huge leap forward with “suspension” style cushioning which is essentially the treadmill deck being suspended so that with each foot strike, there’s some give softening the impact.
Treadmill Computer Technology
Computers are proving to be a huge game changer with treadmills. In fact treadmills are just picking up steam by some treadmill manufactures. The most progressive treadmill manufacturer with respect to using computers is ProForm.
No other treadmill maker is embracing computers and implementing fantastic graphics like ProForm. I’ll give you two examples with how ProForm is leading the way with integrating computers with their treadmills (and other fitness equipment such as the Tour de France Indoor Cycling Bike).
1. iFit Live Technology
iFit Live technology is a separate software you buy that does quite a bit technology-wise. The best feature is that it integrates with Google Maps so that you can replicate a real-world course on a treadmill or exercise bike. When you hit hills, the treadmill gradient goes up; on a bike the resistance tightens. In fact, ProForm developed the ProForm Pro 2500 treadmill which not only offers an incline, but also offers an incline feature for replicating going downhill.
iFit Live includes all kinds of workouts and workout tracking features as well. Just be sure that if you want iFit Live that you buy an exercise machine on which iFit Live integrates. It doesn’t work on every treadmill or exercise bike.
2. Wireless Internet on Your Treadmill
I’m surprised it took this long for treadmills to include wireless interent for Web browsing on treadmills. However, again ProForm answers the call and developed the ProForm Pro 4500 treadmill which comes with a whopping 10″ screen on which you can surf the Web. It’s an awesome treadmill with truly premium features; but best of all you can surf the Web.
I’m a Netflix subscriber which means I could watch Netflix content while I work out on a treadmill with internet. That said, you can buy a treadmill laptop holder for internet access … but that requires having a laptop.
3. Customized workout technology
Yowza Fitness rolled out their Intelligent Weight Management techology for several of their 2012 treadmills. Briefly, intelligent weight management is a wireless scale that integrates with the treadmill. The customized weight information (plus other information that integrates with the treadmill) is used to create a customized workout.
Smooth Fitnesss rolled out their mySMOOTH Virtual Fitness Trainer technology. This is software that enables you to create your own workouts, establish goal-setting parameters, and track your workouts over time.
What other technologies can you get?
Yowza Fitness’ new generation of treadmills, starting with the Daytona Treadmill offers customized workouts integrating your weight, height and sex. It uses a wireless scale which takes your weight and then creates a customized workout according to your weight, height and sex. But that’s not all.
The real value of this new technology embraced by Yowza Fitness is the computer retains your information so as your weight and fitness level changes, so too do your workouts. This way your workouts will adjust in small increments which help stave off hitting a plateau and ensure that adjustments meet your new abilities. This too is a very cool technology.
What other types of technology could be developed with treadmills?
I suspect in the future more iPhone apps will be developed and that treadmill makers will start creating iPhone apps to integrate with treadmill computers. When it comes to apps, there really is no limit. They’re relatively easy and inexpensive to develop. I suspect the use of apps and fitness equipment will explode in the near future.
More media and entertainment integration for sure. After all it’s not much fun staring at a wall when you work out. Expect to see more integration with the Internet, TV, wireless technology, Google Maps integration for real-world replication, personal trainer interaction while working out on the screens.
What needs to improve on nearly every treadmill except for perhaps ProForm, are the screens. In order for media and technology to work on treadmills, the screen graphics have to be top-of-the-line. The days of the 3″ to 7″ inch screens need to be over. More 10″ and bigger screens will need to be used.
Oh yeah, there will be more touch screen technology as well … at least I hope so.
Anyway, the fitness equipment industry is changing faster and faster. Expect to see the development and release of more equipment and retirement of older equipment faster. In fact, I suspect most new models will use existing framewors (i.e. motors, decks, frames) but will upgrade the computer portion. This is good, because upgrading the computer is not as much as work as revamping the entire framework of a treadmill (or other type of exercise machine).