The University of Toronto’s Student Newspaper Since 1880

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

The smart fitness revolution

Its future is so close yet so far
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
JULIEN BALBONTIN/THE VARSITY
JULIEN BALBONTIN/THE VARSITY

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been blasted with commercials for brands like Peloton and Tonal. The simple advertisements all convey a similar message — the local gym of the past is making way for a future where fitness can be achieved without leaving home. Smart mirrors — offered by Tonal and the aptly named Mirror — provide curated home workouts shared from the screen of the mirror that hangs on your wall, even telling you if your posture is up to par. 

Peloton’s flagship smart bike works much like a common stationary bike, but the revolutionary twist is an added tablet that can stream live and pre-recorded workout classes that even include non-bike workouts such as yoga.

As lockdown restrictions have essentially decimated the fitness centre industry — with gyms, spin classes, and dance studios all being closed in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — people have been left scrambling to find ways to burn off the colloquial ‘quarantine 15.’ Smart fitness brands saw this once-in-a-generation opportunity and never looked back. Peloton’s sales skyrocketed in the fourth quarter of 2020, up by 172 per cent from the same quarter in 2019.

It’s clear that there is a demand for smart technology — even US President Joe Biden rides a Peloton — but who’s being left behind?

Smart fitness technology doesn’t come cheap. The Peloton bike starts from $1,895 USD. Mirror, one of the smart fitness mirror brands, has its flagship product starting at a similarly high rate of $1,495 USD. Of course, once you buy the products, some brands also have a voluntary subscription fee to access other features, such as the aforementioned live and curated workouts.

Many people — especially during a pandemic when they may have lost work and may be struggling with bills — will not be able to afford these smart fitness devices. While these brands do offer great services within their subscriptions, it’s clear that the average fitness enthusiast will either have to wait for a huge sale or stick to traditional workouts. While it would be cool to do guided workouts and get ready for work in the same mirror, it seems just a little out of reach for most.

Smart fitness has a bright future. The days of driving back and forth to your local gym only to deal with sweaty seats, misplaced dumbbells, and the long wait times at peak hours, could soon be a distant memory. 

But until brand name prices drop or until budget brand products — such as the Echelon Connect bikes, which offer more of the same that Peloton does, minus the tablet — become more popular, it seems that we’ll have to wait until everyone can enjoy a good spin class or yoga session from the comfort of their homes in a way we could not have imagined years ago.