Using apps and other new technology to track fitness progress is increasingly becoming the norm among exercisers, whether working out on their own or at the gym.
Last year, Life Fitness conducted an independent fitness and technology study that evaluated the habits of exercisers from seven countries, all of whom owned smartphones or tablets and exercised at least twice a week.
It found that: nearly three-quarters of regular exercisers used some form of technological device during their workouts; 62 per cent used some form of digital content outside of the gym to support their workout programme; and more than half of respondents considered themselves more successful at achieving their weight and fitness goals thanks to technology. Meanwhile 33 per cent of respondents said that, provided prices and location were similar, they would be willing to switch gyms in favour of one that offered them access to the technology they wanted in the gym. And 75 per cent per cent of those aged 30 or under said access to personal content would encourage them to work out more.
Equipment manufacturers have taken this on board, with most of the major players now offering advanced consoles that include inbuilt exercise tracking facilities, as well as access to media and other forms of entertainment. Many have also developed their own apps to support these on-kit consoles, allowing out-of-club activity to be tracked too.
But things don’t end there: equipment manufacturers are increasingly linking their systems with established third party apps, so exercisers don’t need to change their habits or use multiple apps to track their activity. We take a look at some of these partnerships.
Technogym’s mywellness cloud is now able to synchronise with Runkeeper and MapMyFitness, with all its subsidiary applications such as MapMyRun, MapMyRide and MapMyDogWalk.
Both Runkeeper and MapMyFitness use GPS on smartphones to track outdoor activities according to distance travelled, meaning that activities such as cycling, running, skiing and walking can be measured. Data such as a route map, altitude changes during the activity, split times per kilometre covered and average pace are also tracked.
Once connected with the Technogym system, data from Runkeeper and MapMyFitness automatically transfers to the mywellness cloud on completion of the workout. All activity data, from in and outside of the gym, can therefore be stored and tracked in one single location.
The two apps were chosen due to their popularity: Runkeeper has more than 19 million users worldwide, while MapMyFitness has over 10 million. “Partnering with them was the ideal solution to help end-users record everything in one place without changing their exercising tracking habits,” says Andrea Bianchi, Technogym MD.
“Since all user data is merged into one Technogym mywellness account, and constantly available in the cloud, it’s quick and easy to add and integrate external applications to provide users with comprehensive feedback about their lifestyle.
“As well as being convenient for users, this offers a great opportunity for operators to engage with customers who already exercise outdoors: even when people can’t get to the gym, they can still measure their outdoor activities. This helps end-users maintain motivation and stay engaged with their gym, and contributes to greater overall momentum in staying fit.”
Precor completed its first integration with a third party app, EveryMove, in February of this year. This partnership provides Precor with an instant link to many of the top fitness tracking devices via one portal: EveryMove integrates data from Precor’s own Preva app, but also with more than 20 other well-known apps and devices such as FitBit, Nike Fuel/Nike+, MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper. This enables exercisers to aggregate their data from a variety of sources rather than limiting them to only one or two options.
EveryMove is a free app that enables consumers to track and capture their healthy activities and convert that information into reward points. Workout information can be entered manually through the website, as well as automatically through the app.
Reward points earned can be exchanged for merchandise and gift cards from well-known brands or donated to charity. Most of EveryMove’s reward partners are currently in the US, but that network is already expanding into EMEA. Alternatively, operators can sign up as an EveryMove reward partner and create their own rewards for members, such as free personal training sessions. Users can pick a reward to work towards and share their activities via social media.
Preva – Precor’s networked solution – allows users to track out-of-club activities, as well as workouts on Precor equipment, using the Preva app.
Anyone with a Preva account can link this to EveryMove; once this bridge is created, all Preva activity data is automatically synced with EveryMove.
Life Fitness works with its own app, LFconnect, as well as Runtastic, Lose It!, Wahoo Fitness and SoFit. Third party apps that provide exercisers with a wide range of workout options have been selected, ensuring there’s something for everyone, whatever their personal goals and preferred tracking methods.
Runtastic provides a total mobile fitness package to more than 15 million users worldwide. It’s been designed to help exercisers track their sports activities and connect with friends who are also using the app – users can create profiles on www.runtastic.com to cheer friends on, share photos, keep track of exercise stats, log runs and biking routes and more. Linked up with the Life Fitness Open Platform, it automatically synchs distance, calories burned and speed during workouts carried out on Life Fitness equipment.
Meanwhile Lose It!, Wahoo Fitness and SoFit also work seamlessly with Life Fitness equipment, allowing health club members to use their smartphones or tablets to customise their workouts and create experiences that engage and motivate them.
Lose It! is a personal weight-loss programme that tracks calories and workouts. It helps exercisers set a daily calorie budget, track their food and exercise, and stay motivated to make smarter choices and achieve their goals, connecting users to the people, devices and food information they need to achieve their weight-loss goals.
SoFit is a social gaming application using social networks, real-world rewards, fitness and charity partners to motivate users to stay active year-round. Users can compete against others to win virtual medals, and redeem points for offers and charitable donations.
The Wahoo Fitness app is a running and cycling app that connects to heart rate monitors, cycling speed/cadence sensors and Life Fitness equipment. With the Life Fitness integration, Wahoo Fitness users can also track data from their indoor workouts.
FreeMotion has teamed up with iFit to provide interactive technology to connect and track all fitness activities.
iFit mobile apps track all outdoor workouts, with the iFit Running and iFit Cycling mobile apps using advanced GPS to track the exact route travelled, even when there is little or no signal. Every workout is then automatically uploaded and available to repeat indoors on FreeMotion CV equipment. The iFit app for iPad can be used to control FreeMotion cardio equipment to simulate the outdoor activity: equipment belt speeds can be adjusted and inclines and declines regulated, while viewing Google Maps Street View on an iPad.
Every completed workout is recorded and available to analyse on iFit.com – users can review the exact mileage, time, calories burned and elevation gained for individual workouts, as well as downloading training programmes, setting goals, following friends and creating personalised workouts.
Meanwhile the iFit Club portal offers club management tools to interact with members while tracking equipment usage and diagnostics. Trainers can use iFit to prescribe workout programmes and keep track of progress.
“Freemotion chose to work with iFit because, with over 10 million miles logged in 2012, it’s growing and evolving to create the most interactive workout experience possible,” says Ian Thorpe, MD of Freemotion’s UK distributor Fitness Systems.
Matrix has teamed up with MyFitnessPal, a website and app that can be used to log meals and workouts quickly and easily. This enables users to track their activity and weight loss, helping them to stay on track and achieve their goals; the app claims to have proven benefits for weight management.
Matrix chose to work with MyFitnessPal as it has over 30 million users and an extensive database of foods from restaurant chains, as well as packaged and fresh food items, to help users keep track of what they eat.
Users can access the app on the Matrix 7xi consoles: this integration means the process is seamless, so the user doesn’t have to input information manually. Users can view their total calorie intake – as well as their calorie goal, net calorie data and their exercise data for that day – via the Matrix console. Their activity accumulates on the 7xi console and, when the workout is completed, automatically updates into their MyFitnessPal account, which will immediately register their credits for the calories burned.
“For many gyms this could be the missing link in supporting a customer, especially those who want to lose weight but don't know how. For gyms nervous about imparting nutritional advice, this app helps guide a user and uses evidence-based methodology to promote safe and sustainable weight loss,” says Matrix MD Jon Johnston.