Club Industry 2012: Going green and new networking technology - SNEWS

Club Industry 2012: Going green and new networking technology

Though Club Industry wasn’t heavily focused on equipment, a few companies brought notable technology and displayed their latest “green” efforts.

There’s one thing Ed Banasky, president of Fitness Master International, noticed at this year’s Club Industry versus others he’s attended: fewer equipment manufacturers.

But those that were exhibiting — immediately visible when event-goers walked into the hall — brought their A game and top technology. Many companies also debuted products that either generate power to recharge batteries or add power back to the grid of the club. Also on deck? Stationary cycles that mimic the feel of a road bike, a bevy of accessories and splashy items from StarTrac.

Technology for the masses

Precor and LifeFitness were buzzing with people all day at Club Industry last Thursday, many of whom were in line to see features of new technology released by both companies.

Precor released its Preva Net-enabled console, which allows users to get on the web, watch television, watch movies and read magazines and newspapers, at IHRSA 2012. But now the system has the ability to let clubs input schedules, instructional videos and personal trainer biographies, Johns said.

Life Fitness doesn’t use Preva as its “networked fitness” technology, Johns said. Rather the company uses Netpulse. Other companies like TechnoGym use Visioweb. Life Fitness also doesn’t call it a console anymore, said its President Chris Clawson — now the term is “tablet displays."

The new Discover Cardio line features tablet displays that navigate like iPads or other tablets, Clawson said. The tablet displays include more than 70 virtual active courses where people can run with views from real locations. Plus, there are interactive games, television, an Internet connection and the ability to track workouts and store personal information.

What makes Life Fitness’ technology different is LFOpen, which enables developers outside the company to develop apps for Life Fitness products, much like Apple and Android products.

Going green

At IHRSA 2011, SportsArt launched its Green System with EcoFit and has shown it at every show it’s been to since. How does it work? The EcoFit Network motivates club and facility members by showing them how much power they’re generating back into their club's grid. Users are able to track their energy production and exercise statistics over time.

Phil Rankine, executive director engineering for EcoFit, said the company has added the EcoFit tracking hardware directly onto the SportsArt consoles, rather than having a retrofit add-on module, though those are still useful for other SportsArt equipment that isn’t part of the EcoFit System.

“In the last year we’ve been able to build our electronics into the hardware,” Rankine explained.

Users register individual Power Passes and put them into a slot on the build-in, or added-on, hardware. Workouts are stored and uploaded to the EcoFit database so members can track them. Users compete for rewards like discounts and freebies.

Another benefit of the system, said David Johnson, executive director of strategic planning for EcoFit, is that the system can also track when equipment needs maintenance like lubrication or other errors.

“The service companies are loving this,” Johnson said.

Star Trac was stocked full of news and brand-new equipment at this Club Industry. One of its more notable pieces recharges the batteries on its own computer console, the Spinner Ion.

Jeff Dilts, Star Trac’s senior director of marketing and product management, said this is the company’s effort to be more green. A lot of Spinning classes are conducted with the lights off, Dilts said, and the computer consoles require the use of batteries, which have to be changed often.

The unit has a generator inside and when a person is “Spinning” one can tell the generator is working because the wheel lights up blue. Then the generator generates power to allow the battery to charge.

Dilts said with the Spinner Ion, it will be four to five years before facilities need to change the batteries on the consoles.

Stay tuned to SNEWS on Friday for a wrap of the cardio, strength, accessories and other unclassifiable equipment we saw at Club Industry.

--Ana Trujillo