Workout-tracking software and HDTV-enabled cardio equipment are among the products Woodinville-based Precor exhibited last week at CES, an international consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. This year was Precor’s first time at CES, the show at which the VCR, CD player, plasma TV and Blu-Ray disc have been unveiled in past years.
Precor launched Preva, a networked fitness platform, in April 2013. It lets exercisers set goals and track their progress by logging in on Precor treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and Adaptive Motion Trainers or by using an iPhone app.
"They can literally go anywhere in the world — we have over 20,000 of these units [with Preva] in 56 countries," said Brent Brooks, vice president of networked fitness at Precor.
He explained that Preva uses "gamification," similar to earning levels in a video game or participating in an airline mileage program, to motivate people to exercise. Exercisers can set duration, distance or calorie goals.
"Once people have taken the time to establish a goal, they’re twice as likely to work out," Brooks said.
While Precor equipment tracks users’ workouts automatically, they can also manually enter activities like strength exercises using the mobile app. The workout information can also be linked with Microsoft HealthVault, a service that records other health data such as nutrition and medical records.
People work toward badges for certain accomplishments, such as exercising for a total of 10 hours. Other badges, such as the one for burning as many calories as you would burn walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, are kept secret until the user earns them — which gives the user a "surprise and delight factor," Brooks said.
"Really, at the heart of Precor is a desire to help people reach their goals, whether they’re exercisers with fitness goals or operators with business goals," Brooks explained.
Mike Williams is the co-owner of Gold’s Gym in Woodinville, which has several floors dedicated to Precor cardio equipment. He strives to help gym members meet their goals, and Preva can make it easier for them to work out. For example, users can set up a workout program for themselves with a certain speed and incline, and repeat that workout without having to set up the machine again.
As a business owner, Williams likes how Preva lets him track usage of the machines (though not individual users.) That helps him figure out why certain machines wear out more quickly, why certain machines aren’t getting used and which types of equipment to buy more of.
Gym members also appreciate all the entertainment options offered on Precor’s equipment with P80 touch screens. They can choose from a variety of TV channels, how-to exercise videos, music videos of different genres, movie trailers and Internet browsing.
"We all know that running, ellipticals, biking can be tedious and boring," Williams admitted. "The entertainment helps distract people. Personally, I like it because then I’m not watching the clock."
And Precor plans to add even more entertainment options to its exercise equipment, Brooks said. At CES, the company announced integration with DIRECTV, which will give exercisers access to more than 100 HD channels, such as CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Food Network and HGTV. Exercisers no longer have to rely on shared, wall-mounted TVs for entertainment.
"We’re able to integrate the fitness experience and the media experience," Brooks said.
Photo by Briana Gerdeman At Gold’s Gym in Woodinville, a man runs on a Precor treadmill with a touch screen that allows users to log in and track their workouts. The software, called Preva, is designed to motivate exercisers.