April 4, 2012


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8 Ideas for the 21st Century Gym (It’s a good thing we’ve got 88 more years)

There are two audiences that I think are highly dedicated and compulsive in their behaviors: gamers and fitness fanatics. It would be fascinating to combine the two. Here are eight crazy ideas that would transform the gym experience. Someone is going to create this kind of place. I guarantee it.

1. Capture our energy

We ride bikes, pull weights and move around like crazy. How much energy do we generate? Has anyone ever calculated our own personal wattage? What if we captured that energy? What if the energy you expend on that bike powers your phone while you workout?

2. Gamify the workout experience

We already do this at a basic level, but what if we took it all the way? What if that treadmill or exercise bike had an interface at the same complexity of an xbox game? How much more fun would spin class be if we could see a landscape evolving before our eyes and the resistance of the bike matched our virtual ride?

3. Gamify our personal fitness milestones

Competition motivates people. Why not keep score with all the members? Attendance. Personal fitness milestones on a sliding scale. High scores on the machines/gaming platforms. Track it all, report and reward the members accordingly. People love prizes.

4. Put a bar & restaurant in there

Lets face it. On a friday night, the gym is not where people usually want to be. But why can’t it be? If you are playing games, people will want to be social. If people are being social, they’ll want to eat and drink.

5. Educate kids

Gym class isn’t what it used to be. Actually, it was always pretty lame. And taking soccer or karate classes aren’t quite cutting it either. Because of our modern lifestyles, we grow into adulthood without developing baseline skills with respect to our fitness and dietary choices. Some figure it out. A lot don’t. One thing I do know—if it’s fun, kids will do it. Why not make that part of the family gym experience?

6. Add touchscreen displays to the exercise machines

A simpler version of #2, adding iPads with web access would make the experience a whole lot more palatable. I know I’m getting tired of overhead tv’s with a whopping four choices of ESPN, CNN, Foxnews and MTV.

7. Build a bridge to the healthcare industry

I spend a lot of money to have access to a gym, which in turn keeps me healthy and out of the doctor’s office. This has never been reflected in my insurance premiums. Why not? The numbers are there that show preventative health care is far more cost effective than reactive medicine. These guys are in the same business.

8. Celebrate the ordinary heroes

People come to the gym and change their lives through improving their health and the health of their families. Why not celebrate that? Not everyone has the athletic gifts to be a professional athlete. But that does not diminish their individual accomplishments. The world of mere mortals has its great stories too. Gyms should embrace them.

These are just a few crazy ideas. Yeah, they look expensive. It also looks like a hell of a lot of fun. What do you think?

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