Health and fitness clubs in the United States boast a membership count of a staggering 62.5 million. But while gym enrollment across the country continues to increase at a healthy rate, 50% of new members throw in the towel within the first six months. Obviously, this statistic is concerning from a business perspective, but even more worrisome from a health viewpoint. Is it the membership fees or lack of time causing customers to drop their newfound avocation like a hot potato? Perhaps it has more to do with the setting than anything else, and technological innovation is stepping up to fill the need.
At the tail end of boutique fitness, home workouts generated by the latest tech that provides 24-hour accessibility via the internet is disrupting the fitness industry for the better. Jolene Cherry, a personal trainer and fitness coach by trade, believes traditional exercise options often leave a significant portion of the consumer base on the sidelines. “As we begin a new decade, technology is striking a chord and speaking a vernacular that your average gym seems to be lacking.”
In this article, Ms. Cherry examines the mechanics driving virtual exercise and helps answer if it’s your cup of tea, or shall we say, Gatorade.
Similar to the bulk of entertainment transposing from the local movie theater to the living room, a significant amount of people prefer the comfort of their own home for exercise. Now historically, quality control has been a major issue for home workouts – that is, until live streaming entered the sweaty picture.
Exercise videos have been around since the invention of the VHS in the late 1970s. Does Richard Simmons ring a bell? As afro popularity faded from the consciousness of the public, hardware evolved throughout the years hence improving accessibility, but the overall experience remained ultimately unchanged. Since 2005, countless health videos have been uploaded to YouTube, varying in quality and effectiveness, but is old news compared to the engrossing culture of a live stream exercise class.
Attending a spin or yoga class at a local studio isn’t for everyone, but they do provide irresistible energy. If you’ve never experienced this, imagine the electricity vibrating amongst the crowd at a concert versus listening to a song via your headphones. Both have value, but the feeling is substantially different.
In recent years, Peloton has carved out a notable niche within the cycling community. The company sells a state-of-the-art exercise bike and provides access to live spirited spin classes. As a participant, the instructor can track your progress and provide tips and motivation to boost your performance and gains.
Though still in its nascent form, virtual reality (VR) is spreading its wings across several industries, including fitness and health.
Naturally, some may struggle to find the appeal of exercising with a VR headset strapped to their head, but fortune favors the bold. How often are you distracted during a workout? VR helps solve this problem with total immersion. Several consumer VR systems are already available, as well as software designated to physical activity. 3D generated environments project digital avatars and therefore remove the concern of feeling self-conscious about your body at a gym and can be tailored to spinning, boxing, dancing, you name it.
Lest we forget virtual personal training. VR allows you to trial personal trainers from afar until you find a personality that clicks with your goals and style. As they would in person, a virtual personal trainer can provide structure and much-needed guidance at competitive rates. They’re also excellent motivators. If you’re looking for something new and exciting to achieve results, virtual exercise may be right for you.
About Jolene Cherry: Jolene Cherry is a certified and experienced yoga instructor and personal trainer based in Portland, Oregon. Combining her passion for travel, physical fitness, and meditation, she studied with renowned yoga instructors in Thailand as well as Hawaii. She believes that striking a balance in life is the key to wellbeing. She aims to help her clients reach that balance through physical activity, mindfulness, and healthy nutrition.