Bring some fun into exercising

Bring some fun into exercising

Sometimes you just have to sneak a little fun into your fitness routine. The next generation of workout gear coming to the market capitalizes on society's love of fun and games, marrying features such as interactive gaming and bold colours with nuts-and-bolts fitness tools.

At the annual Health and Fitness Business Expo held this month in Denver, prototypes of exercise gear linked with gaming consoles were of high interest to fitness club owners and equipment dealers. “The future of fitness will be entertainment," said Bob Damashek, owner of Fitness Resources, a consulting company. Damashek said he noticed the trend especially in cardio-fitness machines. The newest treadmills and elliptical machines are equipped with TV screens, USB ports to plug in an MP3 player and more specialized heart-rate monitors to keep users informed of progress. For instance, indoor riders can take in the breathtaking scenery of a Tuscan landscape while pedalling a Tunturi stationary bike. An integrated seven-inch-wide console screen displays real-life footage of the great outdoors that is synchronized with pedalling intensity. Go faster, and the video program moves faster.

Classic Outdoor and Recreational Equipment, a contract manufacturing company based in China, was trying to persuade an American company to sell its Game Bike. The system, compatible with the PlayStation II or a PC, hooks a gaming kit up to the exercise bike. Users compete against the computer in a simulated racing course. The company was offering a wireless version as well.

Twister, inventor of the X-Bike and its patented natural movement handlebars, plans to unveil the new X-Dream indoor cycling machine in 2008. The bike realistically tilts to the left or right while cyclists pedal up hills, going as fast or as slow as necessary to overtake a computer-simulated competitor.