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Life Fitness Uses Advanced Tech To Make Cardio Fun Again

Life Fitness Uses Advanced Tech To Make Cardio Fun Again

Adaptive Flex Deck technology and other innovations in Life Fitness’ Symbio line of cardio equipment bring new levels of science and customizability to treadmill, cycling and elliptical workouts

Life Fitness is taking the road less traveled, even running down it, one could say. While many fitness equipment manufacturers concentrate primarily on strength-based workout machinery given the modality’s rise, Life Fitness is also keeping its foot on the innovation gas pedal with regard to cardio, serving exercisers of both formats at a high level. 

Leading the charge on that front is Life Fitness’ thought leader and expert in running Derek Hansen. Well-tuned in running mechanics and cardio as a whole, Hansen knows there’s still a lot of untapped potential with the age-old workout modality and knows Life Fitness is the place where it’ll be unlocked. 

“Let’s be honest, cardio-based exercise can seem lengthy and boring, with few innovations being developed in the cardio equipment space to energize potential users in recent years,” said Hansen. “However, Life Fitness’ innovations have created the ability to uniquely customize the user experience from a broad range of runners and exercisers, motivating individuals to re-integrate cardio-focused workouts into their training fitness routines.”

“The combination of individualization, education and engagement will help us win back fitness users to the cardio space,” he added.

Personalizing the Cardio Experience

Winning people back to cardio starts with meeting them where they’re at, and there’s no tool more equipped to do that than the Life Fitness’ Adaptive Flex Deck. The recently launched innovation allows treadmill users to select their preferred surface firmness before they get moving. That flexibility makes it applicable to a seasoned or new runner all the same. 

“Recognizing the individual needs of all types of cardio users is incredibly important in not only encouraging them to initiate exercise but also ensuring that they are consistently accumulating work over extended periods of time and achieving their goals,” said Hansen. “New users want to feel good when they are starting an exercise program.  Advanced users want to take their training to a new level and continue to make gains.”

Derek Hansen (credit: Life Fitness)

The deck can be adjusted to five different levels of firmness from very soft to very firm. This, along with Life Fitness’ other innovations, makes it possible for users to simulate real-world terrains and enjoy all sorts of walking or running journeys from the comfort of their homes or gyms.

“As a running coach and performance consultant, I am always recommending to athletes and clients the value of varying their running surfaces,” said Hansen. “Some days it is good to run on a grass or turf field to reduce impact stress, while other days training on a stiffer and more responsive track surface may be more beneficial for higher-velocity running.”

“Life Fitness engineers identified this need very early on and developed a solution that fit the needs of a broad population of runners and walkers,” he added.

Precise running metrics are also made available alongside the tech. This includes intel on stride length, flight time, ground contact time and gait symmetry — all of which help users identify areas to improve and make eventual progress.

credit: Life Fitness

The Best Cardio Machines on the Planet

Adding additional juice to the cardio game, Life Fitness introduced a full line of equipment named Symbio which features a new, innovative twist on each modality. This includes The Runner, the Incline Elliptical, Recumbent Cycle and SwitchCycle. 

The Runner includes the Adaptive Flex Deck which offers a truly immersive experience as users can shift between very soft or very firm to create distinct running experiences. The Incline Elliptical allows the user to target different muscle groups just by selecting them on a screen. The SwitchCycle combines a traditional upright and group cycle so exercisers have the comfort of the traditional bike but can get in and out of the saddle for a more total body workout.

Life Fitness made sure to check all the boxes in developing Symbio. Everything from 500 virtual terrains to YouTube and Netflix accessibility was baked into the hardware and software. 

“The development team took their time in perfecting the Symbio line before introducing it to the public,” said Hansen. “No stone was left unturned in the process to make this concept come to life and actually work. Not only did they develop the technology to adjust treadmill deck firmness, but it’s also really good. You notice the difference almost instantaneously.”

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While Hansen originally concentrated on The Runner, he quickly noted the entire line’s impressive capabilities. 

“Although I was originally brought on board to help with the Symbio Runner, I also realized that their other Symbio cardio products were developed with the same innovation and dedication to quality that I experienced with the treadmill,” Hansen said. “Both the Symbio SwitchCycle and Recumbent Cycle bring a high level of comfort and quality ergonomics that make cycling more enjoyable.”

“For individuals that might not be able to handle the impacts of running on a treadmill but still want to experience the feel and mechanics of running, the Symbio Incline Elliptical offers an effective alternative for their cardio experience, too,” he added

The Case for a Cardio Comeback 

While Symbio and the Adaptive Flex Deck have already pleased cardio enthusiasts, there’s still room for growth. Hansen believes the increased injury risk that comes with an over-reliance on strength training could lead to a balancing effect that brings cardio back to prominence.

“My involvement with high-performance athletes crosses over into the work that I perform with fitness and rehabilitation projects in the general population. In both cases, I have found that there has been a shift away from cardiovascular fitness and conditioning, in favor of strength or more specific training methods,” he said. “I believe this trend has resulted in an increase in injuries that stem from diminished cardiovascular endurance, decreased circulatory efficiency and reduced capacity to recover from bouts of exercise.”

With innovations like Symbio and the Adaptive Flex Deck, Life Fitness will be ready to welcome users back into the cardio fold. Hansen especially views the Symbio Runner as a piece of hardware with great potential due to its low barrier of entry and advantages in the injury-recovery department.   

“In the case of the Symbio Runner, I have started to look at the differences in running economy and blood flow efficiency with different surface firmness settings,” he said. “This information could be extremely helpful in the evaluation of different exercise protocols and surface settings for beginners, advanced athletes or individuals undergoing rehab following a muscle or joint injury.”

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