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Can Cardio Cinema Get Gym-Goers Back on Machines?

Can Cardio Cinema Get Gym-Goers Back on Machines?

As cardio declines, some gyms are fighting back, offering immersive mini theaters where members can watch movies while working out on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike

In a fusion of cinema and stamina, 10 Fitness, a Little Rock, Arkansas-based franchise, is challenging the traditional gym experience with its Cardio Cinema concept, offering the option to watch a cult classic movie while you get your heart rate up. 

This pairing of movement and moving images is part of a broader trend towards immersive workout experiences, transforming mundane cardio routines into exciting, movie-driven adventures.

Cardio cinema, or some iteration of the idea, has been around since at least 2008, according to a Washington Post article from that time, but fitness brands like 10 Fitness, Gold’s Gym and EoS Fitness are promoting it as an alternative to fluorescent lighting and doom scrolling on your phone as you exercise. 

The fully immersive mini-theater at 10 Fitness is a “cool, dark and secluded” mini theater where gym-goers can pedal, run or stride on ellipticals while enjoying daily movie screenings such as “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Happy Gilmore.”

credit: 10 Fitness

This setup combats the usual tedium of cardio workouts and enhances member engagement and workout consistency, according to Eric Buckner, CEO of 10 Fitness.

“With Cardio Cinema, we’re blending the rush of adrenaline from blockbuster hits with physical exercise to create a workout that members look forward to rather than dread,”  Buckner says.

One of the standout aspects of Cardio Cinema, according to Buckner, is its operational ease. All movie selections are centrally managed, which alleviates the burden of scheduling and ensures a consistent, high-quality experience across franchises.

It’s also made an impact on enrollments. Statistics from 10 Fitness show that more than 30% of new members joined specifically for the Cardio Cinema experience, with a similar percentage of active members routinely utilizing this feature. 

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This level of engagement underscores Cardio Cinema’s success as a valuable and utilized facility component. Offering immersive workouts is a measurable way to attract and retain members, and as competition increases, fitness facilities look for ways to differentiate. 

EoS Fitness, for example, promotes its MOVEōS Cinema cardio room, as a way to build endurance and build community. The shared movie experience offers a unique way to meet people and strengthen bonds, which is particularly valuable in large cities or for those new to an area. This aspect turns routine workouts into social, engaging events that people want to return to.

Beyond entertainment, EoS suggests to members that they structure their workouts to sync with movie plot stages. For instance, treadmill inclines and speeds might increase during a film’s climax, adding an engaging layer to the workout that keeps members both physically and emotionally invested in their exercise session.

As for 10 Fitness, Buckner says that, while there are no immediate plans for expansion, the current success of Cardio Cinema highlights its potential as a template for future innovations in fitness entertainment. 

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