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The Technology of Fitness: Forever Evolving

Peter Sylvester, Co-Producer, FitnessTech Summit

More than any other time in history, fitness appreciation and technology have become paramount in the consciousness of our nation. Athletes, whether elite or weekend, competitive teams and fitness buffs all now look to technology to maximize their efforts. More importantly, as fitness awareness has overtaken the general population, the use of fitness devices has exploded.

We have come a long way since counting steps was the goal. Activity trackers and smart watches are mainstream, but the market continues to innovate and expand exponentially. So, what is on the horizon?

Fitness technology introduced us to the quantified self as devices used sensors to collect biometric data and inform the user. Any advances in fitness tech begin with the continued development of sensors as they proceed to become smaller and less visible, no longer just around the chest or wrist but in ear buds and in fabric, in sneakers and jewelry, becoming increasingly more accurate as they can be placed exactly where they have to be. How we measure and what we measure continues to evolve. Data collection will increasingly become less conspicuous and more comfortable as wearables become more integrated into fashion.

As data collection becomes more precise, it becomes more personal and therefore, more functional. Developers have seized on this and started developing “coaching” apps that interpret the collected data and customize the individual workout, not only leading to improved fitness and performance but minimizing the potential for injury.

Though many users are self motivated, others prefer the community environment for staying fit. Consequently, gyms and health clubs are competing for the technological edge. Real time data feedback makes machine workouts more efficient to enhance the gym rat’s experience; virtual and augmented Reality, gamification and competition -  making fitness “fun” is the next step in reaching an even larger segment of the population.

A community fitness approach is becoming increasingly common in the work place, as corporations partner with fitness companies realizing that a healthy and fit employee is more productive and cost effective. Fitness technology will only continue to be more pervasive in the corporate world as health care has become part of the national discussion.

No longer do you have to be at a gym or corporate environment to enjoy the benefits of community in fitness training – streaming applications now bring the community to you. As life becomes less stationary, technology enables you to take fitness classes anywhere, on your TV, computer or mobile device. Whether enjoying a live class and getting immediate feedback, or a recorded workout at your convenience, the benefits of on demand training ensure that it will be everywhere in the near future. Hotel chains, too, are keeping up by partnering with gyms and/or utilizing streaming technology, acknowledging that people want to take their workouts with them.

The fitness tech industry continues to advance at blazing speed. Fitness has progressed from the elites to the masses. As data collection gives more incremental insight into an individual’s personal metabolism, we have the ability to constantly improve our health and fitness, to enhance our lifestyle. As technology progressively filters into every aspect of our daily life, it is fitness technology that continues to explore and refine the ultimate machine, us.         

Peter Sylvester is Co-Producer of the FitnessTech Summit, a one-day conference that explores the intersection of fitness and technology. Join industry experts and pioneers on Tuesday, January 9 at CES 2018 at the Venetian, Level 4, Lando 4304. See the full agenda and register here. Follow the FitnessTech Summit on Twitter and with #FitTechCES.