What Makes Fitness Equipment Interactive?
An “interactive” piece of fitness equipment implies there is input from a user that is reciprocated through the machine’s response. In other words, it’s a two-way street. Not only will the machine respond to your input, but will reciprocate with input of its own. Whether it changes the resistance, changes the visual path, or awards you “points” during a game, the machine is changing your experience based on your input. It sounds pretty straight forward, but confusion arises when we try to differentiate between a platform that is interactive and a platform that is strictly reactive.
A reactive process stops after the input of a user. You may be able to change your resistance, but the machine simply responds to this command, and does not reciprocate with any input back to you. These platforms typically involve a screen in front of the user guiding them through virtual landscapes or allowing them to watch television and browse the web. The idea behind a reactive experience is to distract you during your workout, making it easier to get through the exercise. While it usually carries some significant early appeal, the experience of these platforms remains the same with each use and for each user. The goal of an interactive product is to fully immerse you in the experience of the workout.
With an interactive product, you must steer, shift, punch, kick, or raise your competitive level to achieve the goal the product hangs in front of you. Your success is truly dependent on the path you choose. The experience between you and the product is truly unique, and will not be replicated by someone else on the same machine.
So What’s Out There?
There are plenty of equipment options when it comes to interactive fitness. However, there are some manufacturers who have been at this for a while and really understand what makes their product experience unique. Let’s take a look at some of the leaders in the interactive world:
Expresso – A true heavy hitter in the interactive fitness realm, Expresso is committed to developing products that engage the user, just as their famous Expresso Bikes have for years now. Don’t believe us? Just check out their company philosophy:
We believe cardio should be…
Fun, not boring
Engaging, not distracting
Social, not isolating.
Expresso truly understands the importance of immersing a user in the interactive experience, and every decision they make is with this philosophy in mind. The Expresso Bike platform allows users to steer, shift, and change gears as the virtual landscape in front of them changes. The pedal resistance increases as they ride up a hill, or decrease as they come down the other side. It is up to the user to shift and steer accordingly, choosing their own path to a new best time. It really is a two-way street between the rider and the bike.
Throw in some of the other methods Expresso has employed to keep users interested – racing your previously recorded “ghost,” sharing rides or challenging friends through popular social platforms, or Team Cardio competitions between facilities – and you may have the most immersive interactive fitness experience in the industry.
Nexersys – Nexersys provides full body interactive training through high intensity interval training (HIIT) with a virtual “sparring partner.” The virtual partner challenges the user to correctly strike one of seven pads in a predetermined amount of time, as if he were boxing against an opponent. The user’s input is then measured for strike accuracy, power, reaction time, strike count and points. Nexersys is another great example of the interactive back and forth between user and machine.
A Fit For You?
Whether it’s for the researched benefits, or simply a way to add some “wow” factor, facility managers everywhere are incorporating interactive fitness into their product offering. If you are looking to do the same, it’s important to understand that what you’re being offered is unique in either the way the product functions with the user, or through the programs and platforms it offers to keep users interested. Luckily, we are always here to help, and if you ever have any questions it’s as simple as reaching out!