Although gyms are now reopening their carefully refurbished doors in many countries, the biggest tech companies are counting on sweating at home rather than having a gym part of the “new normal” once we have a vaccine for Covid-19.Samsung has worked hard on its fitness app for smart TVs, Samsung Health. At its launch event in September, Apple announced a new subscription service, Apple Fitness Plus. This way, you can participate in instructor-led workouts on your TV, phone, or tablet, with real-time heart rate data from your Apple Watch on-screen.
Peloton, known for its live spin sessions, took the opportunity to bring out both a new bike and a treadmill and saw the share price rise steadily throughout the year (not until after Apple’s big debut).
Meanwhile, Peloton’s rival Echelon Fitness has stepped up the cheaper segment of the market – its indoor spin bikes start at $ 839.98 / £ 839.98 (about AU $ 1,200) compared to $ 1,895 / £ 1,750 (about £ 2,600) $) for Peloton’s entry-level machine).
We spoke to Lou Lentine, Echelon CEO, about moving from the gym to the living room, what it means for people who exercise at home, and where home fitness is going next.
“With gyms and other gyms closing at the beginning of the pandemic, users have been exercising at home to stay fit and adhere to their regimen,” Lentine told TechRadar. “In 2020, the technology and fitness industry will merge like never before. Thanks to advanced technology, users can bring fitness into the comfort of their own home and make training achievable.
“With the connected fitness that Echelon offers, people can find out when and where they are best. In addition, the technology enables our members to connect across the country. Our members have set up social media groups to discuss classes and their journey with Echelon. We love that people welcomed us into their homes and that technology has allowed us to be a part of their journey! ”
the next steps
How does Lentine see that we will train at home in the future? “I think there will be more competitors entering the market in the next 12 months and we welcome that,” he said. “We think we have something special here.”
“We really focus on using technology and AI to better understand our members and create rides they love. We are launching two treadmills in the US and soon in Europe. We’re launching a new bike at the end of the year, designed by Eric Villency, who designed the SoulCycle and Peloton motorcycles.
“We hired two of the best rowing instructors we could find for our rower. Our Head of Content has a background in MTV, Peloton, and Flywheel so he has a good understanding of how to create amazing content for workouts on and off the rowing machine. You get a full body workout. It will really kick your butt. ”
Echelon is also building a new studio in Europe due to open at the end of the year, as well as a larger studio in the US with streaming classes scheduled for 2021.
Lentine isn’t concerned about an Apple threat, and notes that this shows how connected fitness is booming and a rising tide is lifting all ships – and that Apple’s proposal doesn’t yet include hardware.
“What we’re excited about over the coming months is the launch of the Echelon Stride – a smart, auto-folding treadmill and the latest addition to the brand’s current networked fitness portfolio,” he said.
“On the partnership and innovation side, we recently entered into an exciting partnership with retail giant Dick’s Sporting Goods to offer our connected bikes, rowing machines and fitness mirrors. Our products are available online and in nearly 800 DSG products. Mortar deals. In addition, we will be storing our best-selling Connect Sport indoor bike at Walmart again next month. ”
Back in the saddle
On the subject of hardware, we also had to turn to the elephant in the room: Echelon’s short-lived Amazon Prime bike that was quickly pulled off Amazon’s virtual shelves after the retail giant made an exception to its branding and refused to connect to it.
“Echelon connected with Amazon at CES in early January,” Lentine said. “They wanted to sell our entire Echelon Connected line and develop a bike that would sell for $ 500. Although all correspondence and orders refer to the bike as EX – Prime Bike, we recently learned that an in-house Amazon team wasn’t fully targeted.
“We are in the process of renaming the devices available on Amazon and look forward to our next iteration selling out quickly, just like the current model. Across the board, we’re focused on finding the best technology and AI to best understand our membership base and create unique fitness experiences that appeal to a wide variety of skills, prices, and customers. ”
Having a wider selection of bikes at lower prices would certainly be a step in the right direction and would open up home studio classes to people who would find the current offer prohibitively expensive.
Hopefully the rebranded bike will help fill that niche and – along with services like Apple Fitness Plus, Samsung Health, and many others – allow more of us to decide where to sweat if it’s a reopening gym or our own homes.
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