There’s no denying it—we live for entertainment. Just take a look around you: We have iPods strapped to our hips, Bluetooth devices in our ears, personal satellite TVs on our airplane seats, duo DVD players in our minivans, and email and music on our phones. It’s no wonder we expect the same luxuries wired to our cardio equipment.
But don’t fool yourself into thinking this “entertainment nation” is a new frontier. “I think entertainment has been in our industry since the beginning,” said Terry Woods, director of commercial marketing for Star Trac. “It just came in different formats—newspapers and magazines were the initial forms of entertainment during indoor exercise.” With
the invention of Walkman personal music players in 1979, people began to create their individual experience—indoors and out.
In the 1980s, gyms started putting exercise machines near windows so that members could people-watch. Others mounted TVs to the wall, offering a sports-bar-like communal entertainment. Trouble was, if the TV you wanted to watch wasn’t right in front of your treadmill, you had to crane your neck to see and, subsequently, proper form suffered.
That’s not to mention the frustration of straining to view a far-off screen, listen over the din of the crowded gym, or be forced to watch what your neighbor liked. Yet, in the past decade, there’s been an explosion of new entertainment options in the fitness market unlike anything we’ve seen before. Integrated magazine holders, personal cooling fans and blinking red dots aren’t cutting it anymore, and manufacturers who understand this have an edge.
“The truth is that this phenomenon is a direct response to the way our world is changing,” said Jill Coleman, group fitness and wellness coordinator at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Part of Coleman’s job is to get young coeds more active, and she noted that entertainment is the key. “The attention span of the average American today is much shorter and the daily grind is fast-moving, laced with conveniences of email access anywhere, cell phone headsets and mobile DVD players.”...
Click here to download the magazine Trends PDF from the 2008 SNEWS Fitness magazine: "That's Entertainment" -- Consumer demand is prompting more suppliers to integrate entertainment technology features into fitness equipment.