Mental & Physical Wellness: Innovation in the At-Home Fitness Space
Updated: Jul 25
Prior to 2020, boutique fitness classes were the most popular form of exercise. The fitness-goer was held accountable by a cancellation fee, a friend, or a trainer. These classes offered not only a form of physical & mental exercise but a safe space to socialize. When the pandemic began, group fitness classes were deemed high-risk activities for spreading Covid-19. The physical studio went virtual along with the world’s work and social lives. Companies previously in the at-home fitness space saw this as an opportunity to enhance working out at home. New technology now provides personalized recommendations, form corrections and online communities to motivate users to stay on track of their fitness routines.
Physical exercise increases blood circulation and has been proved to reduce anxiety, stress and depression. It also helps improve sleep and overall mood. As the pandemic has kept us at home for most of the last year, mental health has become affected by the lack of routine and in-person interaction. The current state of the world is out of our control and we may not know exactly when life will go back to “normal”. There are more options now than ever to efficiently incorporate physical exercise into each day. This will help delineate work and home time as well as offer an outlet to relieve stress and take care of ourselves.
Artificial intelligence has now been incorporated into the at-home workout space. Here are some companies that offer a personalized experience and welcoming community:
Tonal created a digital weight system that computes thousands of calculations a second to deliver a tailored strength experience. Their equipment comes in the form of a mirror with resistance tools stored behind. The system learns how much weight you can lift and automatically adjusts the resistance during your workout. Through sensors on the equipment’s handle, the software can detect if your form is incorrect and will provide alerts on how to improve it on the screen as well as a photo of what proper form looks like. It is an all-in-one strength workout that coaches you to get the most out of each workout.
This app works seamlessly with the Oculus Headset virtual reality headset to deliver an immersive fitness experience. Once the headset is on and the two controllers are in hand, you can select from a multitude of workouts. Once the workout starts, you are standing on a floating mat in a variety of scenic locations. They change with each song, so you are transported around the world with just one workout. Because of the virtual reality experience, you are not distracted by anything in your view that could derail your workout. The workouts are somewhat non-traditional. In one workout, triangles come toward you, and you have to squat or lunge your way through those. Supernatural also has a feature that tracks your progress during the workouts so as you get stronger, the workouts get harder.
Peloton started back in 2012 out of the need to elevate the at-home workout experience. Today, they have an app, a spin bike and a treadmill that connects members worldwide to energetic instructors. They motivate members through interactive live and on-demand classes both on the app and using their equipment. The bike and treadmill have built-in screens that stream the classes and provide immediate feedback with regards to output, speed and standing on the leaderboard. On the leaderboard, you are not only competing with others but also, yourself. You can see your best output from a previous class and are encouraged to try to push past that number to get stronger. As you progress through the classes, the app learns your preferences and will recommend instructors, classes and workout programs for you to try next.
The companies mentioned are only a few that are transforming the at-home workout space. There are many others that offer different types of workouts that include smart technology to improve your form and increase your motivation to workout.
As our workouts get smarter, we get stronger and therefore see better outcomes from our fitness activities. The communities that these companies have created have also helped fill the void of social interaction that occurs during in-person classes. You can send virtual high fives to other members. You can compete with friends to see who can complete the most workouts in a month. This, coupled with the increased endorphins, will help motivate you to continue working out as well as ensure your mental well-being is being looked after. In post-pandemic life, at-home workouts will be here to stay.