Cardio equipment is a consistent staple in many gyms, but operators and manufacturers are looking for ways to encourage their use. Other workout options, like strength training and CrossFit, are rising in popularity. To increase interest in cardio, clubs are turning to advanced technology and other trends that supplement the health benefits of these workouts.
At GoodLife Fitness, the leadership team is finding ways to meet members’ needs for increasingly personalized and engaging workouts by adding more remote options, AI technology and virtual reality (VR). For example, the club launched the GoodLife On-Demand platform in 2021. With it, users can access a database of classes and programs individualized by personal trainers.
“Digital training is a tool to deliver flexible fitness content that supplements time spent working out in the gym. This helps to create a more seamless fitness experience,” explained Nad Myan, the senior director of innovation and corporate growth at GoodLife. “The GoodLife On-Demand platform met the immediate needs of our members during an uncertain time. It continues to evolve in the changing fitness landscape and meets the needs of the consumers who want flexibility in their workout programming and locations.”
Along with increasing personalization in cardio workouts, GoodLife is also aiming to make them more fun using VR. The brand’s partnership with Les Mills lets members participate in their RPM cycling workout and XR BODYCOMBAT, an immersive fitness game with special headset equipment, allowing users to workout in digital environments.
Khaled Elmasri, the former director of fitness at Texas Family Fitness, also noted how quickly VR is becoming a popular supplement for cardio workouts in different ways. However, there are safety concerns with its use. Because it completely obscures the user’s vision, it limits where and how VR can be utilized. VR can’t be combined with most cardio equipment, and a designated space must be cleared to minimize injury.
Along with headset equipment, manufacturers like Technogym are releasing more cardio equipment that projects images during workouts. Thanks to this technology, people can run on the treadmill in a gym while imagining they’re running around city streets, through the forest or on the beach. Equipment from Peloton uses similar technology and broadcasts coaches to simulate being in a group class. Typically, these options are bought by individuals for personal use. For Elmasri, the challenge is figuring out how to capitalize on these trends and implement them into clubs.
“For someone who wants to improve their cardiovascular fitness, but doesn’t feel comfortable in the gym, VR is there,” explained Elmasri. “We have to recognize that and figure out how to bring it into our clubs and enhance member experience.”
In fact, keeping client experience in mind is important when introducing anything at Texas Family Fitness. Advanced technology helps in this area with personalization options. Both Texas Family Fitness and GoodLife Fitness have seen success in this strategy through introducing wearable tracking technology.
Currently, cardio machines that pair with wearable tracking technology are a big draw at GoodLife. When members can connect with products like Myzone heart rate trackers, users receive statistics from their workout, can compare and compete with others, and earn points and rewards which motivates them to consistently workout.
“In an ideal world, every personal device would pair with every piece of cardio equipment,” said Myan. “Fitness lovers could connect their wearable device, sync their personal data and receive a personalized recommendation for their session. Advancements in biomechanics and AI-driven algorithms enable the creation of equipment that adapts to individual body mechanics and goals. This approach would ensure workouts are effective and injury-free.”
Tracking technology is especially important because many results and impacts from cardio can’t be seen in the mirror. Instead, the benefits are showcased when they track statistical progress over time. Seeing the results through numbers can increase confidence and reassure members their efforts are leading to goal achievement.
Elmasri sees this impact especially with younger generations who grew up using technology. “Wearable technology is becoming more popular with our younger generations who are beginning to come through the gym,” he said. “People who are 30 or younger grew up with technology as a huge part of their world. That’s why this technology isn’t going to be leaving anytime soon.”
Trever Ackerman, the chief operating officer of Fitness Connection, emphasized the importance of catering to the needs of Gen Z specifically. He noted this generation is pushing for strength training. Having ways to combine cardio and strength is paramount for operators.
“Gen Z prefers to engage in a wider variety of activities than previous generations,” noted Ackerman. “By offering a large assortment of cardio and strength equipment, we can provide the ideal environment for them to pursue their fitness goals.”
Texas Family Fitness has adopted a similar strategy and brought in new kinds of cardio equipment. These include battle ropes, Torque TANK Resistance Sleds and more.
Part of the reason these are more popular than treadmills and ellipticals has to do with the fun factor. “As we move into the future and think about what the typical gym is going to look like, there will still be traditional cardio machines. Just not as many,” explained Elmasri. “The biggest drawback to them is they’re mundane. The movement you do on them — like walking or cycling — is boring to a lot of people. Our job is to figure out how to enhance the fun in cardio exercises to increase customer satisfaction.”
One way to enhance the fun in cardio is through variety. In fact, at Fitness Connection the diverse cardio is a highlight of their offerings.
“Our members tell us they choose Fitness Connection because we offer a wide variety of equipment,” said Ackerman. “This allows them to customize their workouts to their particular needs, including an assortment of cardio options.”
Implementing technology and other trends impacting cardio can inspire more interest in this area. By emphasizing the versatility and benefits of these workouts, the health of business and your members will improve.