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Future Fitness Trends
Apps, Artificial Intelligence and Home Workout Equipment

Artificial intelligence will build better workouts.
Artificial intelligence will build better workouts.

The future of apps, artificial intelligence and home exercise equipment. Here’s what you can expect over the next few years.

Apps that help you change behaviors will be used for good instead of evil. Tech companies like Facebook, Youtube and Google spend billions of dollars a year to give you free services. But whenever you’re not paying for a product, you are the product being sold. Social media companies track your every click to figure out how to keep you online longer. The more time you spend on their platform, the more ads they can show you and the more money they make.

It’s called gamification. By giving you small rewards or unlocking additional features, they reward your continued participation. For the first decade of gamification, companies were mainly interested in seeing how long they could keep you passively engaged watching ads. In the future, fitness companies will figure out how to gamify healthy activities.

When Fitbit started tracking how many steps people took, the product took off. Unfortunately, they didn’t expand on that option. Over time, people lost interest, became discouraged or felt worse about themselves. The revolution will happen when some fitness company figures out how to offer ongoing novel changes. One week it might be taking 5,000 steps a day; the next, how many pushups you can do during a commercial. Seemingly random, unexpected challenges will keep people engaged.

Exercise programs will be designed by artificial intelligence. Most people who workout, start with a packaged program. Over time you might modify things based on how your body is responding. A good trainer can design something much more customized and effective, but many people can’t afford that. At some point, computers will be programmed to look at all the possible exercise movements. Then they’ll build routines specific to an individual’s capabilities, equipment access and goals.

More advanced programs will continuously run experiments, taking similar groups of people and splitting them into two groups, like A and B. Then, they’ll make subtle changes in the workouts to see which produces better results. By continually testing these small modifications, we’ll see much more efficient workouts in the future.

It took more than 40 years to figure out interval workouts were better than traditional steady-state cardio. With artificial intelligence monitoring everything, breakthroughs like that will occur in weeks or months, not years.

The home fitness market will continue to see innovation in cardio equipment. For homes that have the space, you’ll see interactive systems like the Peloton bike put on treadmills, ellipticals and rowers. The combination of live instructors, immersive interactive courses and the ability to virtually ride with friends anywhere in the world is compelling.

I compare it to the shift that happened from video arcades to home gaming systems. As home systems improved, there were fewer reasons to feed quarters to a machine in the mall.

When you then add up the cost of equipment and monthly subscriptions over two years, it’s much cheaper than traditional cardio classes. A bonus during a pandemic is you don’t have to worry about catching anything from the other people in your class.

Systems designed to help people do weight-training workouts at home will continue to struggle. Even during a pandemic, no company has been able to solve the equipment problem. There’s not enough room in most homes to fit everything you need to replicate what you find in a typical gym. Many people who have the space can’t afford everything that’s required.

The company that figures out how to build a compact home gym that replicates free-weight movements will see sales explode. Keep an eye on companies working with adjustable cables to make the breakthrough in this market. Until that happens, gyms and studios that concentrate on building muscle will continue.

There are many things to look forward to—more data about our health and more personalization in our workouts. Experiences will become more immersive, and the workouts we do will become more effective.

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2/26/2021