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History in the making W


Keeping members engaged keeps members. The adage is easy to remember and the principle difficult to argue against, but the challenge of retaining members remains a persistent one for the fitness industry.


hile regular, meaningful interaction between gym staff and members remains the


ideal, in reality most members spend the majority of their time engaging with the equipment. As a result, there is a continual onus on equipment providers to help deliver higher levels of member satisfaction. History demonstrates that manufacturers have responded admirably, with the periodic introduction of new machine categories including the treadmill, the elliptical and the user-defined trainer. However, having spent the past few decades conceiving these new categories, arguably the scope for innovation, and the probability of a genuinely new category being launched, is diminishing. This perhaps explains why manufacturers are increasingly turning towards technology as a point of differentiation.


Designing for the future 2007 marked the end of one journey for


Precor and the beginning of another. Since its inception in 1980, Precor had made a number of significant impacts on the fitness industry’s timeline of innovation, in particular introducing the first Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer in


1995. Twelve years later, this success was replicated with the launch of its Adaptive Motion Trainer® (AMT®). However, as the project to bring the AMT to market was completed in late 2007, Precor began a new and exciting project – to develop a new generation of the CV equipment console.


‘Member experience’, and helping


exercisers reach their goals have always been of paramount importance to Precor and so a ‘blank canvas’ approach was taken, in order to fully understand the scope of members’ needs. From the very beginning of the project, a wide variety of exercisers were invited to the newly-created ‘Experience Development Center’ (the ‘XDC’) in Seattle, USA, where they were interviewed on exactly what they desired from their fi tness experience. While research continued in the Seattle- based laboratories, Precor also began to consult with a variety of operators, to further understand how consoles could best support their business needs.


A touching experience Interactive, ‘touch screen’ devices are


increasingly part of people’s everyday lives. Precor quickly recognised that this type of technology is essential for the premium member experience of the future, but were also mindful of the fact that it must withstand the rigours of the modern gym environment. Therefore, Precor opted for a tough, industrial- grade ‘capacitive’ touch screen, the type already used for a variety of demanding, high-use commercial purposes, including bank ‘ATMs’, airport check-in terminals, and casino gaming machines. While most manufacturers have adopted ‘resistive’ touch screens, Precor recognised that the more robust capacitive screen would also allow users to perform ‘gesture motions’, such as sliding across different screen panels in the same way that users


Precor’s award-


winning AMT with the new intuitive P80 console


can control leading phone and entertainment devices. Development of the console (now


named the ‘P80’) continued throughout 2008, and all manner of exercisers continued to attend the XDC, where their interactions with the evolving prototypes were carefully studied. While the P80 console became more sophisticated with every month that passed, the development team’s overriding principle remained to create a console that would be accessible for even the most inexperienced gym member. Research shows that 76%* of exercisers experience some degree of boredom while using cardio equipment, and so the design team were also focussed on creating functionality which would provide a much more stimulating workout, including full iPod®/ iPhone® compatibility and customisable stats and media options. Dave Flynt, Principal Interaction Designer at Precor, comments: “The User Interface is simple and intuitive, and large, off-screen


‘Motion Controls’ enable exercisers to perform basic functions such as adjustments in resistance, speed and incline quickly and easily. From the onset, the design philosophy has been ‘fi tness is


Precor’s new P80 console features a tough, industrial-grade ‘capacitive’ touch screen.


6 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital april 2011 © cybertrek 2011


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