Has something gotten you down in the dumps? Have you been struggling to go to the gym on a regular basis? Or even at all? I have the perfect solution for you!
Gym or Game, or Both?
Working out can be considered an arduous chore, but it really should not be. Technology has enabled working out to be an exciting and enjoyable activity, as seen recently in New York. A new gym in Upper East Side and Battery Park City, named Asphalt Green has transformed what it means to get a great workout by really taking the emphasis off of working out. Their class AG6 resembles an arcade with flashy, changing, bright colors and huge shapes that react upon touch. Technology has made this transformation possible by integrating interactive touch floors and walls.
Named AG6 for the first letters of the gym name Asphalt Green and 6 for your sixth athletic sense, the class is a 45 minute, high intensity circuit training that focuses on measuring your strength and agility. Customers follow along by reacting quickly to randomly programmed LED lights embedded in the walls that respond to touch. This idea trains people to develop reflexes and muscle memory to result in a satisfying workout and heightened athletic abilities. Many plyometric exercises are built into the design of the entire gym, allowing gym members to experience a full workout. This class is so unique and beneficial in that it is fully customizable to cater to what the customer wants to improve upon. If the user wants to build stamina versus performing well in quick bursts, the LED system will be adjustable and can be programmed to set up certain movements that would serve to the user’s main interest.
The Concept of Gamification
In the broader context, AG6 is a product of gamification. Gamification, a term that describes introducing game-design elements and principles into traditionally non-game contexts, has always been prevalent in the health arena. A common example that took the world over by storm upon its launch was Wii Sports, which allowed the user to physically mimic playing sports while tracking the user’s movements. Other ubiquitous examples include health/fitness apps that can be easily accessed on one’s smart phone, such as Dacadoo or SuperBetter. Dacadoo provides their users with a “health score” by incorporating every aspect of the user’s life into a score between 1 and 1000. Incorporated into this health score feature is the ability for the user to be quizzed on nutrition facts to encourage users to eat healthier. Creators of Dacadoo believe that users become competitive and want to set a new PR daily, motivating them to eat healthier, sleep more, exercise frequently, and increase their overall well-being.
SuperBetter works in similar ways to Dacadoo, allowing users to complete “quests” and ultimately finishing a personalized challenge. (You can actually try playing SuperBetter right now: https://www.superbetter.com.) The UIUX is quite dramatic and places the user in situations to do thirty push ups and fifteen jumping jacks to get over the quest. In a study done by the University of Pennsylvania, it was concluded that playing SuperBetter for 30 days “improves mood, reduces symptoms of anxiety & depression and increases belief in the ability to successfully achieve goals” (SuperBetter).
Additionally, holistic gamification research has shown that there are notable positive effects, especially in the areas of motivation and enjoyment, thereby leading to increased perseverance. Many reviews for Asphalt Green’s AG6 echo similar sentiments, reporting that users were sore many days following their workout because all of them were incredibly focused and competitive among other members.
Health and Fitness Industry
The health and fitness industry is a hugely hot and growing industry. The idea of fitness is in right now with social media being flooded with workout videos. The new sexy, or basic to say the least, is to have a bonzai bowl with kale and veggies with a pumpkin spiced latte on the side. In 2014, over 54 million Americans paid gym membership feed in the United States. Memberships have grown 18.6% from 2008 to 2014, and growing even more in the past year. In the United States, there were a total of 34,000 fitness centers in 2014, which showed a significant increase since the past year. This industry has been growing through every business line and will continue to grow with the popularity and drive of social media.
Other Notable Examples
- The Smart Jump Rope by Tangram Factory – This jump rope is embedded with LED lights that show the number of reps while you are jumping.
- HyperAdapt 1.0 by Nike – The first sneaker to be able to tie your laces automatically and fit to your feet for ultimate comfort.
- Spandex Leggings by Athos – Athos provides athletic clothing that is able to collect data and micro target any problem for improvements.
Technology companies have definitely seen the opportunity and potential in gamification, which is a testament to the industry’s adoption of digital components in every facet. It is promising to see that exercising can be integrated with video games and technology in an exciting and motivating way. Since I will be visiting New York for a friend’s birthday in a few weeks, I will be sure to try out AG6 and perhaps write a blog on my experience.