Can add fun to exercise. Part 1

Imagine for a minute that you are not a fitness professional but, instead, an average health club member. In this mindset, what would you think and how would you feel during a typical cardiovascular workout? Your routine might be something like the following: Stare at workout time. Pick up towel. Wipe sweat off of forehead. Take a drink from water bottle. Look at person next to you. Feel depressed. Think about what you’re going to eat for dinner. Check time again to see how many minutes you have left. Pretty fun, huh?

Now, imagine you are that same exerciser, but you now have the option to watch your favorite show on television, listen to a CD or radio station, read a joke your friend emailed to you, surf the Internet, compete in a race against other exercisers from around the country, enjoy a movie on DVD or play a virtual reality game — all while you are getting in a cardio workout.

These two scenarios demonstrate the difference that interactive entertainment equipment can make to members. Interactive equipment can help get your members to keep coming back to the gym and to stay motivated. Most importantly, this type of equipment can help members to fit exercise into their lives and make a long-term commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

Attract and retain members

Fitness centers need ways to make workouts more appealing and more sustainable over the long term. According to recent data, more than 50 percent of exercisers who start an exercise program at a fitness center quit within six months, and 70 percent of those who quit do so at least partially because their workout is not providing enough motivation or value for them.5,3 Adding entertainment services to fitness centers is one way for clubs to help counteract this problem, and to help members feel that they are getting more value for their membership dollars. Tom Proulx, CEO of Netpulse, San Francisco, Calif., maker of cardiovascular equipment-connected entertainment systems with Internet, TV and music (www.netpulse.com), comments, “We’re living in an era where entertainment technologies have such a presence in everyday life that people expect to be constantly engaged. Especially when you consider the limited amount of free time people have, it becomes understandable why ‘boring’ activities are no longer an acceptable use of time.”

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