People are always looking for interesting ways to improve their fitness plans. The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association reports that the US’s already $30-billion health and fitness industry continues to grow by an average of 3% to 4% annually.
Some of the biggest contributors to these numbers are the continual advancements in technology we are seeing before our eyes. A good example of this is the invention of the Apple Watch. It was created to track fitness data as accurately as possible – think heart rate sensors, accelerometers, and gyroscopes.
Today’s turbulent times have only increased the demand for fitness technology. With limitations on lockdowns and the growing concern for personal health, it is no surprise. So, let’s take a look at some of the trends in fitness tech these past few months and their implications.
The rise of digital, at-home workouts
Without immediate access to gyms, the dawn of virtual workouts is upon us. For example, Obé Fitness, an online workout platform, reports that they had “ten times more members” sign up in the first week of the lockdown alone. Similarly, virtual studios like Studio Bloom have also seen a 30% increase in new subscribers.
Besides your everyday fitness class, there are those who take it a step further by integrating more technology into the equation. FitnessAI is creating personalized home workouts with the power of artificial intelligence (AI). It has collected data from nearly six million workouts, and can create individual routines with the “best” number of reps, sets, and more depending on your specifications. Home Workouts by Fitness AI launched in the App Store last May.
Personalized training programs
Aside from simply doing workouts on your own, another trend that popped up was the prevalence of online coaching. Indeed, the latest estimates show that the fitness industry has pivoted to digital platforms. This was done to appease their consumers who were stuck at home. However, they have more competition than just fellow trainers; they have to worry about machine-learning coaching apps, too. A popular example is The Freeletics Training Coach, also known as the “personal trainer in your pocket.” The Freeletics app observes your exercises, keeps track of your progress, and adapts its training to constantly challenge its users.
More accessible smartwatches
Wearables are expensive. However, this doesn’t stop people from purchasing them. Global smartwatch shipments have grown 20% over the past year. After all, without immediate access to certain equipment, many use smartwatches to track their workout performance on their own. Then again, these numbers could potentially grow higher if wearables were cheaper.
While there’s little that can be done for the wearable’s intricate hardware, Apple has found a way to be more cost-effective by replacing the smartwatch’s screen component. Today’s smartwatches use an OLED display—small light-emitting diodes made of organic carbon compounds. MicroLEDs, which Apple is looking into now, are entirely synthetic. This means that they’re much cheaper to produce. Compared to OLEDs, however, they need to dissipate heat more efficiently. Fortunately, incorporating metal core PCBs into the device solves the problems of thermal dissipation and structural integrity. It’s not ready for production, but it’s reassuring to see that there are significant strides being made.
Adoption of smart equipment
Then again, why dream of the gym when you can simply bring the gym into the safety of your own home? According to a report on Reuters, The NPD Group already witnessed a 130% rise in fitness equipment sales compared to a year ago. Similarly, demand is high for smart exercise equipment. Hydrorow, for instance, aims to deliver a full-body workout by recreating the rowing experience at home. The machine controls the drag while it tracks your “distance” and “speed.” Fight Camp introduced a similar resistance and tracking mechanism, but for boxing. In any case, there’s bound to be a technologically fueled device for every type of fitness preference.
Technology has made fitness activities more accessible and engaging, and it’s certainly evident through the examples above. The pandemic may have set us back in many aspects of our lives, but there’s no reason why personal wellness should suffer.