Apple announced at its developers conference WWDC 2017 that it's partnering with a slew of gym equipment manufacturers that between them produce over 80% of gym equipment worldwide.
If you've spent any significant time in a gym, you'll recognize the names: Technogym, Matrix, Life Fitness, and Core Health and Fitness (the manufacturers of Stairmaster, Cybex and others).
Now we can exclusively reveal that the first such equipment will be ready to ship from September.
With a simple tap, the NFC chip in the Watch will allow the gym equipment to communicate with it – so, for example, if you're using a treadmill it will be able to tell the Watch the speed and incline you were running at so the Watch can more accurately calculate your calorie expenditure.
Calorie expenditure is a big deal in fitness trackers, with a recent study showing that most fitness trackers are vastly inaccurate in their calorie estimations. Hopefully improved algorithms and better data about the specific type of exercise you’re doing will mean much better calorie estimations.
Hitting the ground running
To find out more about what this new technology will mean for Apple users, we interviewed Nicola De Cesare, commercial and business development director of digital solutions for TechnoGym.
First, we wondered when we were actually going to see this technology. “The product on our side is going to be ready by the end of September," said De Cesare, "but the functionality on the Watch side will be available with the release of the Apple Watch update”. That Apple update is the one that was mentioned in the keynote at WWDC, which will be at some point in the autumn.
So we could see these products working in gyms as early as this autumn. The obvious difficulty as we see it is that in order for these pieces of equipment to be in gyms this year, it would require the gyms to replace what are presumably still functional pieces of kit.
We asked De Cesare how often gyms usually change their equipment: ”Typically the replacement cycle is between three and five years on cardio, and five to seven years on strength training equipment. That’s normal in the market.”
But he was quick to add that existing kit can be upgraded to work with the Apple Watch: “Of course, we cannot go back to the 1920s. But for the equipment with the Unity platform, there will be an upgrade kit.”
Unity is TechnoGym’s Android based cloud platform, which allows users to transfer their information between gym equipment worldwide and sync up with fitness trackers to give more accurate readings.
We've reached out to a number of gym chains to see what the plans are in terms of replacing and updating equipment. Once we hear back from them, we'll let you know.
- Want to see how good the Apple Watch 2 is? Check out our review.
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Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.