Why we need connected, integrated fitness-tech products at home now more than ever
While the fitness industry and its dynamics have surely come a long way over the years, it was only since the 1970s and 80s that electronic technologies started assuming an increasingly important role in the fitness domain (or the fitness technologies sector, to be more precise) globally, particularly with the major objective to combat the sedentary lifestyles and working nature of modern men and women. Over the last few decades, smart accessories like electronic treadmills, fitness bikes, and various other types of sophisticated workout machines have become a common sight in our gyms and offline fitness centers. Despite the outstanding advances in technology and an increased interest in embracing the process and benefits of fitness-tech, the concept and reality of ‘connected’ fitness-tech was, until now, missing.
So, before we delve more into this, what exactly is ‘connected’ and ‘integrated’ fitness tech, and how did these become a part of our modern-day living?
To put it simply, connected fitness refers to connecting hardware with a set of tools like apps or in-built software that allows people and fitness enthusiasts to experience something similar to working out in the gym, but from the comfort of their homes. Difficult times (like the current ones we are living in) call for the need of introducing innovative measures, and from what we have observed off late, the laudable innovation of connected or integrated fitness might just change the way people pursue fitness and their fitness-first lifestyle. What this essentially points to is the fact that in the post-pandemic times – connected and integrated fitness-tech has the potential to become the ‘new reality’ or ‘new norm’ for fitness lovers worldwide.
Truth be told, in recent years, almost all of us have been aware of existing fitness hardware that one can place at their home and work out according to our comfort levels. But, are these hardware products or tools really useful and/or functionally effective? The motivation to work out strikes once in a while, especially in the beginning (when one makes up his/her mind to start) and goes down with time, making these expensive equipment turn into places to dump our clothes on.
Furthermore, we are also familiar with the earlier versions of connected fitness apps or wearables that usually tracked the user activities -- which were a hit initially, but even those have gradually become “boring” over the years, due to the lack of motivation to pursue the fitness regime itself. In difficult times or stressful times, it's not just the hardware that makes a difference – people need motivation. And, history has proven that a community of like-minded individuals can provide the right motivation, along with great content that allows the users to come back and remain pumped up on a consistent basis.
Undoubtedly, connected fitness is an ever-evolving field, and it has now moved on to incorporate smart screens, AI-enabled trackers, customised sessions, live workout sessions, and much more. But, this integration is not as easy as it sounds. It needs the perfect balance between high-quality hardware, combined with innovative and high-tech software, and thus requires time and expertise to be developed and then commercialised. And, as it has been evolving, it will also require great (and of course, relevant) fitness content that engages people along with a steady and connected platform that allows live interaction between expert trainers and users to create a virtually connected community that can motivate you.
The reward of staying fit always pays off in the long run, but nowadays, people have short attention spans and want to be rewarded along the way. Plus, this also keeps them motivated to not give up on their fitness goals. Keeping this in mind, it has become essential to introduce full-fledged reward systems that give people a sense of payoff for their sincere hard work (and sweat). Even at the end of a workout session, knowing where one stands on the leaderboard as compared to the 20 other people who had joined in the same session, also induces a sense of reward and inspiration.
Last but not the least, it is of utmost importance to understand and integrate the element of user-friendliness into fitness-tech products and services. Not all fitness equipment are a ‘one size fits all’ - so how does one create a product that is consumer-friendly and fits the diverse needs of today’s consumers?
The ideal way is to understand and include the different age groups in a household and the different workout paces and types they would opt for – be it cardio, strength and conditioning workouts, Yoga, HIIT, and so on. By making a wide range of workouts accessible from beginners to intermediate to advanced-level fitness enthusiasts, we can easily and seamlessly curate a comprehensive, one-stop workout experience that fits many, while also allowing users to choose their custom workout goals according to their own comfort and convenience levels.
The above-mentioned integrations are, in today’s day and age, what makes for great connected fitness-tech products and services, which in turn and over time, allow people to be a better and possibly the fittest version of themselves. And, understanding how times have changed dramatically (more so after the pandemic), the whole domain of fitness-tech calls for a time-relevant upgrade. These upgrades will, in the near future, change how people view fitness altogether.
However, one thing is for sure -- it is high time that people should have access to high-tech connected fitness products and services directly inside their homes. As more and more people prioritise staying at home and working from home in the post-Covid era, they should neither overestimate nor underplay the importance of new-age connected fitness-tech; and they should be in sync with these technologies and must continue to see them as an enabler in terms of embarking on their respective transformational home fitness journeys as well as for redefining the future of fitness at large.
The article has been written by Dinesh Godara, Founder & CEO, TREAD