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Technology set to 'transform fitness' over the next decade

By Tom Walker    07 Sep 2016
Technological advances could bring virtual fitness into living rooms – and allow the tracking of progress and vital statistics via wearables

Health club members expect wearable technology and Netflix-style workout services to “transform” their traditional gym experience over the next decade.

That is the headline finding of a study commissioned by ukactive and retailer Argos – published today as part of National Fitness Day – which quizzed more than 1,000 fitness enthusiasts on what they expect fitness to look like in 2026.

Two thirds (66 per cent) of respondents believe technological advances will help keep them fitter, while more than half think wearable technology will dictate their workouts in the future.

One in five (20 per cent) think virtual reality will allow them to work out with their favourite athletes in their own living rooms and more than half (57 per cent) expect to engage virtually with personal trainers via TVs and computers.

There is also an expectation of active travel becoming more commonplace, with one in five (22 per cent) expecting roads to have jogging lanes next to cycling lanes, while 8 per cent think drones will be on hand to encourage commuters to run or cycle faster.

While most predictions centre on how fitness will become enshrined in life beyond the gym, there is hope for club operators too, as a clear majority (66 per cent) cite the gym as their main way of keeping fit – now and in the future.

When it comes to predicting what a future health club could look like, expectations include anti-gravity workout rooms and machines that ‘trick muscles’ into thinking they’re working out.

Undertaken in July 2016, the study of UK fitness users has been released to mark National Fitness Day, which is taking place today (7 September).

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Paralympic legend and ukactive chair, said: “As physical activity and technology align, we’re entering a brave new world with exciting opportunities to get people more active.

“With two thirds of those questioned expecting to be fitter in future, there is significant growth potential for the sector, with workouts from the home making exercise more accessible and providing the chance to engage wider demographics in physical activity.

“National Fitness Day is the start of this future and offers thousands of opportunities for people to engage with their local communities and have fun getting active.”

Sponsored by Argos, this year’s National Fitness Day will see more than 18,000 free events with thousands of UK leisure venues throwing open their doors to engage the public in free physical activity taster sessions.

Argos is also staging workouts across its 800+ stores.

Professor Greg Whyte, National Fitness Day ambassador, added: “Fitness has enjoyed terrific growth in recent years and as someone who’s passionate about getting Britain moving more I’m intrigued to see users’ forecasts of what the future holds.

“Much of my career has been spent working in sport and exercise science and the continued surge of wearable technology means we’ll gain greater insights into how and why people move, enabling us to engage more people of all ages in exercise and turn the tide of inactivity.

“A lot of people slip out of their gym routines because life gets in the way, but the advancement of virtual classes and better wearables will help them to keep up the exercise habit and remain engaged.”

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