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IHRSA 2024: Cardio Still Top of Mind for Fitness Equipment Leaders

IHRSA 2024: Cardio Still Top of Mind for Fitness Equipment Leaders

Top equipment brands look to reenergize cardio by blending it with immersive touchscreens, on-demand content and luxury materials

Strength training may be getting all the attention lately, but equipment leaders such as Life Fitness, Matrix Fitness and Freemotion Fitness are aiming to keep cardio fans engaged—after all, even those focusing on resistance training still carve out cardio time, and newcomers gravitate to treadmills for their familiarity and ease of use.

Cardio was on full display at IHRSA 2024, with equipment makers excited to debut the latest in equipment advancements and user-friendly technology guaranteed to keep fitness consumers engaged and moving.

Here’s a look at some top brands and their latest cardio innovations.

Life Fitness Lets Operators Create Their Own Content

Life Fitness is revitalizing cardio, deepening user engagement and unlocking new revenue streams for club operators with Symbio, its ultra-premium cardio line, which was displayed at IHRSA 2024.

Citing data from EcoFit, the commercial fitness equipment leader points out that fitness enthusiasts are still heavily engaged in cardio activities, but their desires have changed when it comes to equipment. In a screen-friendly world, consumers expect on-demand content to be readily available on their cardio machine. One Life Fitness survey revealed that gym members prefer nutrition, fitness, mental health and mindfulness content, along with on-demand workouts featuring in-house instructors. 

Enter Symbio, a next-gen collection spanning a Runner (treadmill), Incline Elliptical, SwitchCycle and Recumbent Cycle that allow club operators to create on-demand workouts with their own in-house instructors, add new member onboarding videos and promote services to drive additional revenue. 

credit: Life Fitness

The Runner breathes new life into cardio with adaptive flex deck technology, offering advanced customization where exercisers can select their preferred level of firmness – either 40% softer or firmer. Geared for everyone from running beginners to advanced or to those rehabbing or looking to prevent injury, the Runner keeps fitness enthusiasts engrossed and encouraged with its technology, according to Don Saladino, celebrity trainer.

“It’s giving people the ability to quantify their success from a cardio standpoint that doesn’t require them going faster,” Saladino said during a Life Fitness panel discussion at IHRSA 2024.

Providing on-demand content on a cardio machine is another key driver to keeping members motivated, especially when they can understand and see their progress through metrics. As an expert trainer, Saladino said he was impressed by Symbio’s ability to hook members with content and urges operators to tap into their team of personal trainers and instructors.

As Life Fitness global training and education manager Leigh Wierichs points out, club operators can easily shoot content with their phones and seamlessly upload it to the console, unlocking endless possibilities.

“(It) gives you the ability as a trainer, instructor, facility owner, operator — to really completely customize the experience,” Wierichs said. “And the content doesn’t have to be a class — although it could be an actual on-demand class or something nutrition-related. It could be something explaining the different capabilities of the treadmill; it could be something talking about how to prepare for a 5K. It can be anything that you think would resonate.”

Matrix Brings Luxury to the Next Level

Matrix Fitness, a commercial fitness leader under Johnson Health Tech, has entered 2024 with the launch of its Onyx Collection, a line of five ultra-premium cardio machines, including a treadmill, Ascent Trainer, ClimbMill, upright cycle and recumbent cycle. 

“Every touch point and every element of the Onyx Collection was designed to be exceptional, immersive, and unlike anything else in our portfolio,” said Andrew Kolman, vice president of global product development. “At Matrix, meaningful innovation is at the heart of everything we do. Our partners can expect to see this guiding principle artfully expressed in every design detail.”

credit: Matrix Fitness

Matrix showcased the new cardio collection at IHRSA 2024, with its sleek visual appeal on full display, meant to take the fitness experience at high-end health clubs and luxury hotels to the next level.

Kolman explained that feedback from industry partners was central to the creation of Onyx.

“As a commitment to the success of our partners, we have made significant investments in enhanced manufacturing processes, machinery and more exacting quality standards that will not only meet but exceed the expectations of the ultra-premium customer,” he said.

Aside from its premium aesthetics, Onyx offers an oversized 32″ touchscreen console and interactive touch controls. Whether users are looking to sprint, interval train, complete fitness tests or run on immersive rolling hills, they will stay engaged. At the same time, operators are able to brand the experience and run their own messaging on the big screen.

credit: Matrix Fitness

See Also

The Onyx Collection will also be showcased next month at the 2024 FIBO show in Germany, which will take place from April 11 to 14.

Freemotion Engages Members Through Immersive Content

Freemotion Fitness, along with parent company iFIT, showcased its new 22 Series cardio line at IHRSA 2024, featuring iFIT’s content library of roughly 17,000 coach-led workouts, including Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps and ultrarunner Tommy Rivers Puzey. 

The six-piece lineup includes an incline trainer, a Reflex treadmill with an impact-reducing deck, an elliptical and three bikes, complete with a 22-inch HD touchscreen that displays content and automatically adjusts speed, incline, resistance and fan speed based on the on-screen workout.

credit: Freemotion Fitness/iFIT

iFIT’s content is filmed on all seven continents, including exciting locations such as Mount Everest, transporting cardio enthusiasts to another world via the 22 Series monitors, which Adam Guier, vice president of North America sales at Freemotion, says is a massive benefit for attraction and retention. 

“We hear members say, “I went on a vacation to such and such place because I had exercised in that same location from virtually,'” Guier has told Athletech News. “We also hear members who say, “I went on vacation, came back, and did the same run on the console that I had done on vacation.”

credit: Freemotion Fitness/iFIT

Freemotion’s 22 Series also serves club operators who struggle to hire enough fitness instructors for group fitness classes. The cardio line provides an engaging experience with plenty of variety and the ability to be coached virtually with expert guidance from iFIT instructors. 

Outside the gym, members can use the iFIT app wherever they are, including at home, using equipment from NordicTrack or ProForm, other iFIT brands.

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