Innovation in Fitness. Where is it?

It’s no secret I’m a Disney geek.  The draw is that they have their act together on levels you didn’t even know there was an act.  Everything they do is designed, carefully, to reinforce something else.  I couldn’t find the image, but there’s one out there from Walt Disney himself that shows how tv shows feed a park ride, and a park ride feeds merchandise, and merchandise on the street feeds the tv show, and so on.    Their planning and thinking is so well respected that every other ‘amusement park’ company tries to mimic them!   There would be no Wizarding World of Harry Potter without Tomorrowland, Frontierland or Fantasyland.  They’re not selling you a ticket to a bunch of rides, they’re selling you an experience.  The uber-geek in me would say they’re making you a LARPer for the day.  Before Disney, amusement parks were a bunch of individual rides….the ride was the fun part and that’s it.

Topic switch:  I have experience to prove this, and you can look it up for yourself if you wish, but on an average day in the Disney parks, you can walk 7-10 miles.  Adding in the heat, a stroller, backpack and/or souvenir bags, you’re looking at 700-1000+ calories burned.   And you’re probably loving every minute of it and can’t wait to get back there tomorrow!!!

What about a beach vacation?  If you’re simply playing in the waves, jumping, swimming, treading water, you can burn 200-300 calories in an hour.  I tend to be lazy on the beach, but even I spent 2+ hours a day in the water with family and friends.

So, it’s ‘New Year, New Me!” time and a lot of us are joining gyms.  We’re strapping on our tracking devices and taking classes, feeling the burn and digging deep for those last few reps/minutes/quarter miles.  We’re energized now and that will last for a few more weeks.  Then most of us will slip back into our old habits.  There’s got to be something better out there.  There’s got to be something that harnesses the distraction of 10 miles in Disney or 2 hours in the ocean.   Why does going to a gym have to be rows of machines and weights?  Where’s the experience?  Where’s the excitement?   I see Ninja Warrior gyms trying new things and being pretty successful.  Rock climbing gyms do this as well, but other than difference uses of existing gym equipment, who’s really innovating?

Who’s creating an experience in fitness?  Who’s making the gym someplace you look forward to going to AND spending time there?   Some are trying to encourage friendship and community (like Crossfit) and that’s awesome.  It’s a proven method to keep people going.  Some are creating more social areas of their facilities for people to hang out, work, socialize.  Again, I applaud that.   But who’s making the work part of the workout less visible?

Where I’m going is looking at a gym as a place isn’t isn’t purely functional.  Make it FUN!  Make it that integrated experience where you can’t wait to hit the weights again because each weight has an RFID chip in and each rep is tracked and every million pounds lifted triggers  a 90 second party instead of a lunk-alarm.  And, those weights are big metal or rubber discs….they’re shaped like tires and donuts and manhole covers.    That treadmill has Call of Duty hooked up to it so your movement in-game is tied to your movement on the treadmill.

I see hints and pieces of this….but can’t find anyone who’s really cracking it.   Google ‘innovation in fitness’ and it’s all about tracking and technology.  That’s great and can solve problems for existing athletes (anyone want to carry a tape deck on a run anymore?   Exactly.)   Who’s trying to disrupt the whole thing and make it an experience?  Who’s really showing us how taking care of our health can be fun?

I’d love to see examples in the comments.

Me during a 7 mile + walk.  Look how happy!

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