28 June 2005

Fitness in the New Century

Posted by Jameson Penn

Recently Fairfax County opened its first Recreation Center (Cub Run RECenter) in more than 15 years, and fortunately, it is located right in my neighborhood. Really, it's no surprise given that the Sully District is the fastest growing region in the County, between the growth in population as well as home assessment values. However, as a renter, that translates into nothing more than frustration and higher rent. But now I have a new RECenter so all is well.

While the RECenter is state-of-the-art in every way a public facility can be, I have found the greatest benefit to be the fitness gym. Situated in a wide open, well-ventilated room are plenty of weight machines outfitted with the the FitLinxx service, or what I consider to be the future of fitness for overweight and lazy Americans. From the FitLinxx website:
FitLinxx is a computerized system that attaches directly to existing fitness equipment, adding an extraordinary “intelligent” dimension to the workout experience for the first time. FitLinxx “learns” users' programs, “coaches” them individually through their workout for better form, safety and confidence during every exercise, and “tracks” their progress over time.
Behind the scenes, all the exercise machines are networked into a central database, providing exercisers and staff access to a wealth of information on individual progress and a unique set of motivational tools. The system can be accessed on workout-floor kiosks, at the staff computer station, or anytime/anywhere on the web.

As a high school athlete, I was very familiar with weight training but never experienced any enjoyment from it. By using FitLinxx,fitness has tapped into the gamer in me. My disinterest in working out was likely due to the lack of realized goals you experience. Sure, your sweat and effort is rewarded by a healthier body, but let's face it: such a mid-to-long-term goal is rarely enough of an incentive for most of us. What FitLinxx does is infuse short-term goals to keep your focus. Before you realize, the short-term goals add up to a long term goal of being in a much healthier position.

If you complete your set within the computer's target range, you are greeted with blips and bleeps that cheer you on by letting you know how far you've gone. When you are finished with the machine, the LCD screen tells you what is the next machine in your workout.

We're currently looking at a culture where various industries are taking cues from one of the most successful ones out there: the gaming industry. Now, movies and televison shows are looking and feeling more like video games than what they were, say, ten or fifteen years ago.

As Steven Johnson discussed in his book, Everything Bad is Good for You, interactivity is the essence of the media's evolution, where static platforms (sit-coms, box-office movies, etc.) are finding they must either adapt or wither away. After using the FitLinxx system for more than a month now, I strongly believe that Johnson's thesis goes well beyond pop culture and the entertainment industry. If this is any indication, the whole world has something to learn from interactive products that exist in our world.

In the mean time, I'll take advantage of my local gym's great offerings and be well on my way to being in better shape than I have experienced in quite some time.


Anonymous jamie j said...

We have FitLinxx on our machines at work. They’re great and I love the way that you can customize a work out and get details on such statistics as miles per hour, calories per hour, feet ascended/descended per minute, etc. unfortunately now I can’t exercise without them. When I go outside and try to run, swim, or bike I no longer know how to gauge my performance. Recently I ran from my apartment to the mall and Washington monument and back. I had to walk approximately 3-4 blocks b/c I completely ran out of steam. With out the FitLinxx telling me when to speed up or slow down I couldn’t adequately judge the distance and my energy exerted. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the statistics and customized training regiment, but I don’t think you should be completely reliant on them. I guess that’s just a downfall that I had though.

29 June, 2005  

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