Put The Fun Back Into Cardio
It’s time to get the obesity epidemic running for the door. At least that’s one way clubs can assist in the fight, and help members drop extra pounds — get the member running, walking, climbing or just moving. Cardio equipment can do all of this for your members. We took time to interview some clubs we thought were combining technology, entertainment and fitness to make cardio, not only more appealing, but most importantly — fun to members.
Bosse Sports Spa & Style and Bosse City Club and Spa
Marco Cosentino, the Managing Partner of Bosse Sports Spa & Style and Bosse City Club and Spa, said that instilling healthy and fit values into America’s youth was one way to fight the obesity epidemic, and that emphasizing cardio could bring our world one step closer to winning the battle. “We need to try to get our youth moving,” said Cosentino. “We are at a terrible place with childhood obesity and early onset diabetes starting at younger and younger ages. Cardio is the best way to get our youth moving and burning calories. Cardio will help them burn calories, improve their cardiovascular system and counter our country’s increasingly technologically dependent sedentary lifestyle.”
That goes for adults as well. Although Cosentino sites technology as a cause for many American’s sedentary lifestyle, he and many other clubs are combining fitness and technology in order to positively counteract the rising obesity rates, and create a positive cardio experience for members of all ages. “Through technology you can make it more fun and get more users involved,” said Cosentino. “The Trixter Xdream is a really good example of how technology and fitness are combining to make [fitness] more fun.”
The Xdream, a bike produced by Trixter, simulates users riding in locations such as parks, mountains or the desert, and allows up to six riders to face off against each other at any one time. Simulating the experience of riding outdoors, users actually move the Xdream as if they were riding an actual bike. “Making it fun — whether it’s through uniqueness or technological advancements — will push us forward for the next 10 to 15 years,” said Cosentino. “The goal is to broaden the user base for the whole fitness industry.”
Although entertainment is a huge factor, good quality equipment and machines that produce biomechanically correct movements are important in cardio equipment as well. Cybex recently released its new Arc Trainer that has been extremely popular amongst Cosentino’s members. “The members tell me on a regular basis how much they like the Arc Trainer and how much better it feels to their body compared to an elliptical machine. They have conveyed to me that the Arc feels better on their knees and puts less stress on their hips,” he said. “They also note how great of a workout they get on the Arc and how they have seen better results in a shorter period using the Arc versus traditional elliptical machines. Our Arcs are our most popular cardio piece of equipment.”
According to Lynn Luczkowski, a representative from Cybex, the new Arc Trainer’s are equipped with the Muscle Map™, which actively shows users which individual muscle groups they are working to achieve targeted results, and an E3 View™ that engages users with a selectable display of exercise data and video entertainment.
Cosentino has seen the transformation of cardio fitness and equipment over his course of working in the industry for almost 30 years. “Everybody’s so technologically advanced now and everybody’s multitasking … it’s just amazing to see.”
Mitch Batkin, the vice president of Sport&Health has also noticed the increasing partnership of technology and entertainment within cardio equipment. “Lately, the number one thing has been entertainment,” he said. “Much of the new equipment has iPod and iPad attachments, where members can hook up and play their own videos and music.”
That same technology has allowed the machines to tell members what workouts to execute. Personal trainers can program a workout for their clients into a machine, preprogram their workout and send it to clients or have the clients download the workout themselves. “You can make some really cool things happen [with this technology] if the member is motivated,” said Batkin.
Batkin has used the Life Fitness Virtual Trainer App, which according to the Life Fitness’ website, allows personal trainers to virtually create a cardio workout on the days they aren’t working out with their clients. The app also allows members to log their workouts and upload workout results so that their trainer can see what they have accomplished.
Once you get your members excited about cardio training through technology and entertainment, Batkin emphasized the importance of members completing cardio workouts that burned the maximum amount of calories, and that integrated as many muscles as possible simultaneously. “There are a few pieces to the puzzle at how to get fit — and if you look at the exercise puzzle, you really only need three hours of working out a week at the minimum. Half of that should be cardio, and the other half strength training.”
Interval training is a perfect way to maximize the time your members do spend on cardio. According to Batkin, interval training requires members to repeatedly alternate from harder levels of training to easier levels. “You get fitter much, much faster,” he said. Members don’t need much time in order to reap significant benefits. “Three hours — its more than many do, and it’s something that can seriously positively impact your health,” he continued. “You could do one hour Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or 30 minutes, six days a week. It’s flexible — you can do it whenever you feel like, just accumulate three hours a week. Three hours a week and you will have a major positive impact on your long-term health.”
Fitness Factory Health Club
Rich Scarpati, the owner of the Fitness Factory Health Clubs in New Jersey, understands the importance of differentiating himself from the competition. “In this economic time, the market has gotten so competitive that I’m looking to differentiate myself,” he said, and he does so by investing in equipment that gives him a clear advantage over other club owners. Purchasing equipment from companies like Technogym and Woodway, has allowed Scarpati to provide his customers with products that can benefit their athletic performance.
The Woodway Curve is one piece of equipment that has allowed him to gain an edge and provide for his members. A self-propelled treadmill, the Woodway Curve burns up to 30 percent more calories than a normal treadmill due to the fact that “instead of the member keeping up with the treadmill, the treadmill keeps up with the member,” said Arliss Fernandez, the manager of the Fitness Factory Health Club, Edgewater, N.J location. “The Woodway Curve is great for long distance runners since the treadmill reacts to the runner’s speed. It’s one constant flow where the runner can run inclines, declines or one flat surface. If the runner slows down, the treadmill slows down, if the runner speeds up, then the treadmill speeds up, all at the runners pace. When you are on a traditional treadmill, you are always ‘catching up’ with the treadmill, almost always catching your bearing. With the Woodway, it’s as simple as getting on and running.”
While recently visiting the Technogym head quarters in Cessena, Italy, Scarpati was given the opportunity to try out new developments in technology and fitness via Technogym’s VISIOweb. “I was playing my wife in Scrabble,” he said. “She was on one end of the gym and I was on the other.”
According to Technogym, VISIOweb is an “innovative Internet Digital Platform that drives customers to your facility by transforming their cardio training into a new, connected, empowered and inspiring wellness experience.” Allowing members to surf the web, access Facebook, play games such as Scrabble, watch TV shows and listen to the radio among other activities, Technogym argues that VISIOweb encourages even the laziest of people and those addicted to social network sites to have no more excuses for skipping out on exercise.
VISIOweb, along with other advancements in technology can be found in the new Technogym VARIO, said Scarpati. He described the new cross trainer as giving members “the impression of floating in the air. It’s a fantastic piece.”
Scarpati has planned to keep providing the latest and greatest in cardio equipment to members. “I certainly think cardio is important. If you look at the obesity rates in America, the numbers are staggering.”
Clubs can assist in counteracting the obesity epidemic by making cardio not only effective, but also fun and entertaining for members. With the increasing advancements in technology-incorporated fitness, it is almost inevitable that even more new and exciting innovations will emerge in the near future. -CS
By Rachel Zabonick