The Rise Of The Machines
The basics of fitness and gym equipment are essential for a professionally operated gym. They are useful tools for the modern workout routines centered on body weight training. They have not changed in years, which is part of the attraction for some fitness enthusiasts. Some of the commercial gym equipment items that you should be thinking about presently are not much more than gym tools.
Programs that use simple equipment in body weight training; such as climbing ropes, gymnastic rings and pull-up bars have been very successful in the last year. One example of this type of equipment is the kettle bell. The popularity of CrossFit, which draws part of its strength training aspects from free weights, has done much to popularize this simple dumb-bell system.
The most hardcore adherents will be found at your local CrossFit affiliate. But that might be too much commitment for the interested non-gym-rat. CrossFit is expensive but many of its aspects are appealing to the more budget conscious gym members. So I would say that it is worth looking into a good set or two of kettle bells.
The Return of The TreadClimber
Core Health and Fitness LLC, owner of StarTrac and Stairmaster has also just purchased Nautilus from its owners, Vancouver BC based Med-Fit Systems. This puts them in possession of TreadClimber, which makes a nice addition to their lines. It’s not a surprise as they had already been producing the TreadClimber under license, in Xiamen, China. The company claims that they will be moving some of the production work from China to a plant in Virginia at some point.
This follows the purchase of the Schwinn and StairMaster brands in 2009, from the same owners. It is worth noting that StarTrac has just won the Gold’s Gym Vendor of The Year Award. This is a really useful insight into the experience of that gym brand’s management as well as a feather in the cap of StarTrac, who earned the award by supporting their Gold’s Gym clients.
When Do They Become Self-Aware?
Mechanical equipment has also reached a point where there are classics such as TreadClimber and StairMaster that haven’t changed in form in years or even decades. What is changing is the context and the ability to take information about your workout and use it to track your goals and for owners to track the utilization of equipment, based on the recorded behaviors of tech savvy members.
Precor, one of the leading makers of treadmills and elliptical machines, is marketing commercial grade gym equipment to home gym owners. This would be disturbing if I thought that home gyms were a threat to the industry. They are not, in my opinion. It’s a good marketing ploy for the brand, as it raises awareness and goodwill toward the many Precor machines located in gyms across the nation.
What is significant is that Precor is also focusing on another booming trend: Networked fitness. The sort of thing that you get with Precor’s Wi-Fi connected machines that are designed to monitor the user’s progress and output. These sorts of applications give users the chance to set goals and monitor progress.
As the amount of connectedness and information reaches a point where your gym experience is as much about the data as it’s about the equipment, I think that systems will open up so that there will be apps that members can use to control every part of their training. It’s also very likely that most commercial gym equipment will eventually be designed to have open-source apps installed by owners to customize them to fit within the gym’s brand and marketing strategy.
Extending What’s Trending
With the pace of technology rolling at speed the way that it is presently, it is as important to look ahead to what trends may be coming our way. As I keep saying it is equally if not more difficult to predict what those trends will be. When trends suddenly reverse or turn out to be just fads it makes it much more tricky to anticipate changes and riskier to use the trends to make big capital asset allocations and spending decisions. Still, it is important to try. Move carefully, attempt to make the least costly choices and be prepared to do something, even if it is wrong.
Advantage Sport & Fitness. Top 5 Trends in Commercial Fitness Equipment. http://www.advantagefitness.com/page/top-5-trends-in-commercial-fitness-equipment (accessed August 1, 2014).
Brousell, Lauren. “Gym Reshapes Its Image.” CIO, April 2013: 15-16.
Goldman, Stuart. Star Trac Parent Company Gets Nautilus TreadClimber. October 26, 2011. http://clubindustry.com/inside_manufacturers/star-trac-core-health-nautilus-treadclimber-20111026 (accessed August 1, 2014).
—. Star Trac, StairMaster Parent Company Acquires Nautilus Commercial from Med-Fit Systems. July 23, 2014. http://clubindustry.com/manufacturers/star-trac-stairmaster-parent-company-acquires-nautilus-commercial-med-fit-systems (accessed August 1, 2014).
Precor. Commercial. 2014. http://www.precor.com/en-us/commercial (accessed August 1, 2014).
—. New Precor Treadmills and Ellipticals Bring Health Club Quality to the Home. July 15, 2014. http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/new-precor-treadmills-and-ellipticals-bring-health-club-quality-to-the-home-1929639.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).
StarTrac. StarTrac Wins Gold’s Gym Vendor of The Year Award. July 15, 2014. http://www.athleticbusiness.com/industry-press-room/star-trac-wins-gold-s-gym-vendor-of-the-year-award.html (accessed August 1, 2014).