The concept of exercise and fitness has existed since antiquity, with a quote dating back all the way from 65 BCE stating the importance of exercise. Since then people have continuously reshaped and refined what exercise is, in order to achieve the best results.
This quest for physical fitness has lately been merging with technologies of various kinds. The following examples will display some of the ways people and companies have been using technology to get the most out of exercising.
Despite fitness trackers are usually associated with 70’s pedometers or modern tech-trackers, the fitness tracker is much older. Being able to use a tool to record a number of steps taken was originally envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci, as a tool for the military. The first actual pedometer which tracked steps taken and distance walked was created in 1780 by Abraham-Louis Perrelet.
1965 saw the release of manpo-kei, a pedometer more widely available to the every-day consumer. The pedometer, created by Y. Hatano, coincided with his research that designated 10,000 steps as striking the balance between caloric intake and expenditure. The increase in availability of fitness trackers, lead to more people being able to get an overview of their exercise. This meant that pedometers went from a curiosity to an athlete tool to a piece of everyday tech.
While old versions of fitness trackers could only semi-accurately track the number of steps taken, modern fitness trackers can track movement, food intake, heart rate and sleep pattern, among other things. Modern fitness trackers also have the ability to connect with apps and platform, which gives the user an overview of all the data collected.
Speaking of apps…
As a result of the ubiquity of smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets, fitness apps have become a dime a dozen.
These apps range from nutritional apps that calculate your calorie intake to music apps with specialized and themed playlists, to the more electric apps such as Zombies, Run! which uses headphones to simulate the user being chased by zombies.
Nothing gets the heart pumping like running from imaginary flesh-eating zombies.
Many of these apps include gamified and social aspects. The Zombies, Run gives users the ability to complete missions, which will give their digital base supplies. The app Fitocracy gives users points for each workout, badges for unlocking achievements and connects users with an online community.
Smart Fitness Clothes
Smart clothes is another version of wearable tech, this time quite literally, as the clothes itself communicates with your device of choice.
These types of tech generally fall under two categories; tech for the everyday person wanting to enhance their work-out, and professional/semi-professional athletes.
In the first category, we have companies such as Sensoria, which sells smart sports bras, t-shirts and sock. All of which connect to Sensoria’s own apps, giving you an incredibly detailed description and analysis of your workout.
The SENSORIA smart fitness socks that track your feet’s movements.
In the second category, we have companies such as Athos, who also produce t-shirts and shorts, both with sensors that give coaches detailed descriptions of how each muscle is being used. These items are more concerned with muscle movement and avoiding overexertion, hence the marketing towards coaches and professional athletes.
In general, these two companies show how technology has become a more accepted part of everyday life, and how people are using technology to enhance and better their physical body.
While the idea of a gym as we know it really first started in the 19th century, a group of people working out together has taken place since Antiquity.
Modern gyms were usually connected to a school or military base, making these establishments closed to the everyday person. The “Gymnastique Et Morale”, opened in 1847 in Paris, was an exception to this trend.
Because of the connection between schools or militaries with physical exercise, it took the beginning of the 20th century for modern fitness center’s to spring up. These centers used modern equipment such as weight benches, rowing machines, and stationary bikes.
The gyms of today have come a long way from the gymnasiums of the past. Two great examples of this are Pursuit by Equinox and Gravity Club.
Putting a gamified spin on a typical spin class, Pursuit by Equinox uses technology to increase motivation. This includes bikes that record every mile biked along with a leaderboard projecting real-time statistics.
Gravity Club, located in Singapore, has taken a completely different approach to emerging technology and fitness. Gravity takes a holistic approach to fitness, combining a gym, wellness center, restaurant and workspace into one gym. Boasting everything from on-site blood-work analysis to herbal-infused steam rooms, along with USB charging stations, Gravity is truly the gym of the future.
The history of fitness is a lesson in constant improvement. Whether we’re talking fitness accessories or gyms, people have a need and wish to constantly improve their current situation, and get the most out of their time.
The evolution of fitness is also a lesson in how technology has become a larger and more accepted part of our life. What started as an ornate mechanical piece of technology you placed on your hip, has now become tiny sensors in your shoes, socks, and sports bra.