31 Aug Let’s Get Smart and Physical
The New Era of Fitness Brought to you with Smart Technology
Ah, the eighties. Jazzercise, celebrity workout videos, and neon-colored leotards. Lots and lots of neon-colored leotards. Thankfully, technology has evolved. No more rooms with thirty sweating people looking in the mirror. No more tape-munching VCRs, and the ability to wear what you want, even if you like leg warmers, without recrimination.
More individuals are opting to bring the gym home. The last couple of years has made the idea of using a bench that someone else was sweating on to lift weights or putting your hands on the handlebars of an exercise bike that someone just sneezed on, more concerning than ever.
Smart technology has become part of almost every aspect of our life, and now it works to keep us healthy.
Exercise bikes and rowing machines that register your heart rate, and calories burned are nothing new. Public Access programs on television where you could work out in the privacy of your home turned into video cassettes with celebrities showing you how you could change your body for the better.
The beginning of the 20th century brought with it less back-breaking work. The Industrial Revolution began to make people more sedentary, and the fear, as Dudley Sargent put it, was that “A large portion of the population never use half their faculties, and if they pursue the same employer for a term of years, they are apt to acquire defects of structure, if not of constitution and character, that is transmitted to the next generation.” By introducing equipment that could be used at home, and portraying exercise and fitness as a leisure activity, the hope was to save the next generations.
Almost one hundred years later, the trends of the 70s and 80s, reinforced our need for fitness. We became less sedentary and more active, jogging, going to exercise classes, and purchasing video tapes, and celebrity equipment, which made the muscles in everything from our abs to our thighs, tighter. The era was as concerned with looking good as it was with feeling good. Sometimes to the detriment of individual health.
Companies began to find ways to help us with our health that don’t involve jogging against traffic, paying for a gym membership that is only used a few times a month, or buying a treadmill that burns more watts than calories, by integrating technology to keep us fit.
You can choose equipment that provides you with a virtual trainer or virtual classes. If you choose not to have equipment in your household to stay fit you can opt for apps, smart clothes, and podcasts. Wearable technology can track the number of steps you take, the number of calories you consume and burn throughout the day, your heart rate, blood pressure, etc. All of that is from an app on your phone, a device on your wrist, or “smart yoga pants.”
Brad Millington writes “Today’s technologies are for anywhere and anytime. They travel with us wherever we go. Technology facilitates, rather than hinders, mobility.” The future is now, and we have the technology.
The tech doesn’t just cover the equipment or tracking. A new industry of accessories, such as Bluetooth sunglasses that can allow you to power walk while talking on the phone, self-cleaning water bottles, and devices that allow the connection, virtually with workout partners, help you keep fit and stay well.
The possibilities are endless, both for companies and individuals.
As our lives become more entangled with technology, we are more productive in our work, our home life, and our health and fitness. Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Biomimicry, and Blockchain Technology are just some of the advancements coming to fitness in the future.
AI can assist you in finding the right yoga pose that won’t stress your body. It will help you plan a diet, analyze your movements, and even create your own personal, personal trainer.
Gamification is already being used in some high-tech gyms, and in the future, it will also be used in VR equipment, making the competition available no matter where you are in the world.
From Yoga to Pilates, virtual reality will be able to let you use the space you are in to get the workout you need.
Companies are creating gaming and data visualization. These programs put you in competition with other participants, often putting you on a team to work harder because your team is relying on you. Your stats are on a leaderboard for all to see. Your heart rate, your speed, are all there for others to see.
These companies hope the gamification of fitness will promote positive reinforcement towards your fitness goals.
Devices you can swallow are also in the mix. These devices will be able, not only to monitor your vitals, but the amount of nutrients in your body, see where you are in the gym and lead you to the equipment you should use next, or show the trainers where you should be focusing.
Shoes and clothing that mimic the natural world are also here and being improved regularly. Chickens, Octopi, and cheetahs have all inspired technological advancements in sport shoes and the shark has inspired swimwear that wicks away the water to make swimmers glide faster and more smoothly through the water.
Blockchain technology also allows people to earn while they burn. While the past only provided earning opportunities for professionals, passive income can now be had for almost anyone that is pursuing fitness.
The question becomes: is technology becoming too smart too fast? With the advent of AI incorporated into more of our world, tracking our habits and health is easier for us, but the data is also out there. Your eating habits, your exercise habits, and your choice of programs, all are available when you sign up to be part of the metaverse.
While the ability to have more personalization and control over what we do with our health and fitness is appealing, we shouldn’t dismiss the cautions. Privacy and security can be compromised. Your data can be sold, used, and broken down to make the pursuit of well-being, a product.
We can make ourselves better, but with that, there is also a chance of dystopia. Creating a metaverse where we no longer have actual contact and only the feeling of control.
“Technology is like fire,” says Jonathan Fader, a sports psychologist. “You can use it to cook, but it can also burn your house down.” In other words, he says, these classes can, for some people, truly increase physical fitness. “But you have to be careful.”
Using technology to stay fit doesn’t mean we have to become more isolated. If used correctly, it can allow us to keep our competitive edge and interact with the world in a healthy way.
So, as Olivia Newton-John once said “Let’s get physical” but let’s also be smart about it.