Bringing Technology to the Gym

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
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At The Sporting Club, in San Diego, California, smartphone technology is enhancing the workout experience. Exercise machines at the health club now feature QR codes, which members can scan with their smartphones in order to access instructional videos about how best to use the machines.

QR — short for Quick Response — codes are those small squares of jumbled black lines on a white background that you see these days on posters, advertisements, and anywhere else supplemental information might come in handy. The club decided to employ the codes on the gym floor when a fitness manager noticed that few members were making use of new machines during their workouts.

Frank Piringer, Marketing Implementation Manager, of the gym and health club management software provider EZFacility, in Bethpage, NY, thinks this is an innovative use of technology in the gym environment. "With the QR codes, exercisers can quickly and independently get a lesson in the proper and safe usage of whatever machine they want to try out," he says. "It's great to see a club coming up with ideas for incorporating technology."

The decision to turn the smartphone into a tool that aids working out comes at a time when cell phone usage in gyms is a contentious issue. Earlier this month, Planet Fitness revoked the membership of a woman who spoke on her cell phone during a workout.

"There's a difference between having a phone conversation while on a machine and using a phone to gather information about the machine," Piringer points out. "The primary consideration has to be safety, of course, and it will take the industry some time to iron out the details — what should be allowable and what shouldn't. But if a health club can find a way to let members safely use their phones for a good workout, that should be encouraged and explored."

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