Apps, wearables and virtual fitness systems are on the rise. You used to be considered ‘fit’ if you went to the gym or fitness classes regularly. But in the 21st century digital age, this is no longer the case.  Will there be a need for gyms anymore?

Are apps reinventing fitness? They’re definitely becoming more popular!

A generation constantly on our smart phones. No wonder fitness apps are becoming more popular. We have easy access to them, 24/7 and can take them anywhere with us. Additionally, they free us getting stuck in 12 month gym contracts. There are various apps to choose from, some are free, some require subscriptions. No wonder there is an increasing transition to virtual fitness.

8Fit, Sworkit, MyFitness Pal, Nike are just some of the many existing fitness apps. Most apps will provide users with a range of workouts, possible meal plans and calculate the calories you burn whilst doing a workout. However, this may not be entirely accurate; this is where wearables come in.

What about wearables? They’re definitely making it easier to track our fitness.

Ever heard of the FitBit…

Photograph of a cyclist with FitBit watch

Image from (no attribution required)

This is one of the leading wearable devices. The FitBit is a watch that can track how many steps you walk a day, sleep patterns and has a 24/7 heart rate monitor. Technologies like the FitBit are growing in popularity because it gives us a better sense of our health. Some devices even offer waterproof features which are great if you love swimming. Most watches will also have a connecting app. This allows users to get notifications sent directly to their smartphone and they’re definitely better at estimating how many calories you burn because they are personal to the individual. In today’s society, there certainly seems to be a heavier reliance on technology to determine our fitness levels.

What’s the risk to traditional training methods? Virtual fitness means there is less need for gyms.

Certainly there are at home workouts available. This does not just stop at apps. YouTube is a big player in the fitness industry. As a result, fitness trainers can expand their business by posting free workout videos to YouTube for watchers to then follow. There clearly is no more excuses for little time or no access to fitness facilities. Turns out you don’t need a treadmill to get fit!

In fact, the expansion of virtual fitness has led to new fitness systems being made. The video below features a new system ‘Tonal’; the system uses electricity to produce resistance. Instead of buying a dumbbell set, this might be the way forward. Although Tonal is very expensive, it shows an insight into the potential future of fitness. Soon we could be working out like this!

Video of tonal digital gym equipment. Attribution to Tonal.

What does virtual fitness mean? The fusion of exercise and technology (Les Mills).

Virtual reality is becoming increasingly popular particularly in the gaming industry. It is definitely starting to revolutionise the fitness industry too. Of course, this kind of virtual fitness has been around a long time. It could be argued, the Nintendo’s Wii Fit launched in 2007 was a starting point to all of this. However, in more recent years, the development in technology means we can no longer cheat by playing tennis on the sofa with a controller in one hand. A recent article in The Telegraph, sees its author, Nick Harding, testing out two VR systems and indicates the potential impacts this could have on the fitness industry in the near future.

“VR will become an addictive gateway to activity to coax a certain section of the population out of sloth – a Wii Fit on steroids.”

– Nick Harding

Despite VR systems being on the rise, there is definitely still a lot of developments needed to go. As Harding points out in his article, there are still “limitations and safety considerations”. As shown in his testing of VR systems, they were not specifically designed for fitness. However engaging in certain games did see a rise in heart rate and calories burnt. Hence, there is a worry that this is the way the fitness industry is heading.

So what does this mean…

Whilst there is still a long way to go before we see more use of VR systems for working out, there is an increasing concern for how this will impact gyms and personal trainers. The use of virtual reality devices would mean there is less need for gyms. As a result, lots of personal trainers could be facing job loss as more clients turn to a virtual workout. However, this being said, for many going to the gym is still a necessity. For a lot of fitness fans, the gym offers more variety and a better sense of motivation. Despite this, it can’t be ignored that a lot of businesses are tailoring their expertise to an online community. Apps and wearables have begun the revolution to the ways we engage with fitness; this can only continue with the introduction of equipment such as Tonal and VR systems. But for now, want to get fit…there’s an app for that!