As an athlete and sports-enthusiast, I am disappointed by the news that Expresso Fitness is "turning out the lights" (according to the Wall Street Journal). Expresso makes interactive, web-connected stationary bikes for high end gyms. The machines monitor your workout while having you compete against the computer and/or other bikers on interactive courses. All of your activity is monitored, logged and available through the web-based system. I have logged hundreds of miles on these machines and, from a consumer perspective, I love the products... and I'm not alone, they usually have members lined-up waiting to use them. The trouble of course is that they are expensive to produce and expensive for the gyms to purchase / maintain (which is in part why there is usually a line - there is short supply). For full utility, they also need to be connected to the web (many gyms simply do not have this capability - even higher-end gyms).
I do believe there are opportunities in the sporting world (Athletes' Performance is a Polaris company and beRecruited's userbase and business are growing terrificly). While Expresso Fitness itself may not be the answer, I applaud them for:
- adding connectivity and interaction to the workout - it improves the actual workout and incents activity
- adding social to the gym - from contests to online activity, social 'game mechanics' make working out more enjoyable and consequently more effective. Brands like Athlete's Performance, Core Performance, and p90x understand this and are doing it in their own unique way
- adding analytics to workout - I love data - from the web to my golf game to my Facebook usage... data makes any routine more effective and productive