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How Fitness Equipment Turn to Lifestyle Objects

Body cult has become part of the lifestyle - so does the design of training equipment. Like a trendy furniture it finds its way into the living spaces. Our iF Design Special takes up this trend.

Design-wise, the term 'fitness' could be adopted as another way of saying 'to be in a good shape' since the look of home fitness equipment such as home trainer, stepper and treadmill has changed in the recent years. What used to be bulky is now slim and elegant. Plastic materials slowly gave way to wooden components that come along with a more natural appeal. These new designs became an eye-catcher in our living rooms and fit almost perfectly to our remaining furniture – next to couch, armchair and sideboard. Sigfried Giedion, an architectural historian from Switzerland, would have been pleased about this development. His idea of a good house can be understood as mirroring our well-being that is inspired by sports and fitness – light, bright and flexible.

The product designer Anton Rief says: “For a long time, the design in the home fitness industry did not correspond to the furnishing style and did not play a role in it. Their design language did not change until about ten years ago.” At this time, Anton took up this trend together with other partners and founded the STIL-FIT International GmbH in Munich to develop sports equipment with a completely new design approach. "The demand for STIL-FIT fitness equipment has increased and since the Covid-19 pandemic it has nearly doubled," Anton says.

How Fitness Equipment Turn to Lifestyle Objects

Anton Rief is product designer and company founder of STIL-FIT International GmbH in Munich, Germany. He has devoted himself to designing fitness equipment for 20 years now.

Since the fitness hype started in the USA in the beginning of the 1980s, the social attitude towards physical fitness has gone through a shift – not least because of growing prosperity in industrial countries, digitalization, changing job environments and higher levels of education. Anton says: “Body cult has extremely increased across all generations whereby health aspects play a greater role among older people. Younger people, in turn, sometimes only exercise to feed their appetite posing on social media.”

Design manufacturers such as Kettler from Germany or Tunturi from Finland soon discovered the potential of fitness as lifestyle. Anton says that that it was no longer engineers who developed sports equipment but designers. According to him, manufacturers recognized that designers could help promote sales in both the industrial and the home sector.

Compilation of iF awarded fitness equipment designs 1981-2020

This home cycle trainer, manufactured by Gruppe Interform from Wolfsburg/Germany, was selected for the 1981 iF exhibition and is one of our oldest collected fitness products.
Vitatrain Modell 550 (1981)

This home cycle trainer, manufactured by Gruppe Interform from Wolfsburg/Germany, was selected for the 1981 iF exhibition and is one of our oldest collected fitness products.

The home cycle trainer is positioned in the stable bracket and linked to the computer via an electro-magnetic system. The LCD shows performance in digital and analog displays. Different routes can be programmed, depending on effort, ride, length etc. desired. The performances stored to computer memory can then be used as the benchmark for the next training session, so that the user competes with his or her own previous achievements.
Cycletrack with Excel-Computer (1997)

The home cycle trainer is positioned in the stable bracket and linked to the computer via an electro-magnetic system. The LCD shows performance in digital and analog displays. Different routes can be programmed, depending on effort, ride, length etc. desired. The performances stored to computer memory can then be used as the benchmark for the next training session, so that the user competes with his or her own previous achievements.

This cycle trainer can be used to accommodate virtually any cycle regardless of frame and tire size. It is fitted with a folding mechanism for an easy storage. The extra heavy, balanced steel flywheel guarantees a smooth pedaling motion. It can be attached to an Excel computer via an electro-magnetic system which records performance and heartbeat. Keys and LCD (analogue and digital) allow easy programming of the cycle. The data is stored so that the cyclist can attempt to better his or her previous performance.
Cycle Force (1999)

This cycle trainer can be used to accommodate virtually any cycle regardless of frame and tire size. It is fitted with a folding mechanism for an easy storage. The extra heavy, balanced steel flywheel guarantees a smooth pedaling motion. It can be attached to an Excel computer via an electro-magnetic system which records performance and heartbeat. Keys and LCD (analogue and digital) allow easy programming of the cycle. The data is stored so that the cyclist can attempt to better his or her previous performance.

Polar AXN 500 Outdoor Computer is targeted for monitoring your progress and energy level, staying hydrated, and, especially for hiking and trekking, keeping the right direction and preparing for weather changes.
AXN 500 (2005)

Polar AXN 500 Outdoor Computer is targeted for monitoring your progress and energy level, staying hydrated, and, especially for hiking and trekking, keeping the right direction and preparing for weather changes.

The Keiser M3 is the first indoor group cycling bike to combine eddy current resistance, a belt drive and a computerized digital readout. Aesthetically, the M3 boasts an almost naked look exposing its finely machined aluminum components surrounded just enough in its platinum decor for safety, sweat protection, and ease of cleanup. These circular machined surfaces erupt in a starburst of colors as light is reflected from them.
Keiser M3 Cycle (2008)

The Keiser M3 is the first indoor group cycling bike to combine eddy current resistance, a belt drive and a computerized digital readout. Aesthetically, the M3 boasts an almost naked look exposing its finely machined aluminum components surrounded just enough in its platinum decor for safety, sweat protection, and ease of cleanup. These circular machined surfaces erupt in a starburst of colors as light is reflected from them.

This fitness equipment can be integrated well into the living space, since. The equipments can be used separately or also in a firmly installed stand which, if necessary, can be opened. It motivates and animates humans to fitness training at each age.
4Fitness (2009)

This fitness equipment can be integrated well into the living space, since. The equipments can be used separately or also in a firmly installed stand which, if necessary, can be opened. It motivates and animates humans to fitness training at each age.

This body training product is a kind of flower with four petals, in an effort for softness. It is an accessory to help people practice abdominals without back pains.
Abdo gain (2011)

This body training product is a kind of flower with four petals, in an effort for softness. It is an accessory to help people practice abdominals without back pains.

This fitness equipment is made for moderate cardiovascular training. Pairing architecturally curved lines with carefully combined glass and aluminum materials, this device fits into and matches almost any interior with its clear language of form and impressive elegance. A large 15-inch screen allows users while working out to operate the “Visioweb”: a touch-screen platform that offers Internet access, television, etc. The ergonomic seat also offers a satisfying experience.
Recline Personal (2013)

This fitness equipment is made for moderate cardiovascular training. Pairing architecturally curved lines with carefully combined glass and aluminum materials, this device fits into and matches almost any interior with its clear language of form and impressive elegance. A large 15-inch screen allows users while working out to operate the “Visioweb”: a touch-screen platform that offers Internet access, television, etc. The ergonomic seat also offers a satisfying experience.

Withings Go is a highly intuitive activity and sleep tracker that enables anyone to seamlessly embrace activity tracking. The tracker was designed to minimize user interactions by displaying time and activity progress on an E Ink screen that is always on and readable in all conditions. Its accessories offer a versatile form factor to adapt to everyone’s lifestyle. Go aims at maximizing user engagement by solving usual drawbacks of activity trackers. Go features eight month battery life, is waterproof and performs automatic activity recognition for walk, run, sleep and swim.
Withings Go (2016)

Withings Go is a highly intuitive activity and sleep tracker that enables anyone to seamlessly embrace activity tracking. The tracker was designed to minimize user interactions by displaying time and activity progress on an E Ink screen that is always on and readable in all conditions. Its accessories offer a versatile form factor to adapt to everyone’s lifestyle. Go aims at maximizing user engagement by solving usual drawbacks of activity trackers. Go features eight month battery life, is waterproof and performs automatic activity recognition for walk, run, sleep and swim.

MOOV NOW™ is a personal coach, analyzing movement and guiding through interactive, scientific workouts. It  recreates motion in 3D to monitor one’s form in a variety of sports and provides rich data focused on the way the body moves. Real-time feedback gives guidance so users can improve as they work out. The device core is waterproof and the high-grade silicon band is breathable and lightweight for comfort. Modular design allows MOOV NOW™ to be worn on the wrist or ankle depending on the sport.
MOOV NOW™ (2016)

MOOV NOW™ is a personal coach, analyzing movement and guiding through interactive, scientific workouts. It recreates motion in 3D to monitor one’s form in a variety of sports and provides rich data focused on the way the body moves. Real-time feedback gives guidance so users can improve as they work out. The device core is waterproof and the high-grade silicon band is breathable and lightweight for comfort. Modular design allows MOOV NOW™ to be worn on the wrist or ankle depending on the sport.

This fitness equipment was born from Technogym’s experience spanning two decades as an official fitness equipment supplier to the Olympics. The user can access customized training programs by simply downloading the Technogym mywellness app. SKILLMILL™ is non-motorized, which means much lower running costs and a reduced carbon footprint.
SKILLMILL™ (2017)

This fitness equipment was born from Technogym’s experience spanning two decades as an official fitness equipment supplier to the Olympics. The user can access customized training programs by simply downloading the Technogym mywellness app. SKILLMILL™ is non-motorized, which means much lower running costs and a reduced carbon footprint.

The Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro delivers a best-in-class fitness band for athletes and those who aspire to reach their fitness goals. Seamless, fluid and water resistant (5ATM), Fit Pro is durable enough to take on your day and stylish enough to stay with you at night. Key features include water-resistance to 5ATM, secure, robust band and clasp, sporty and dynamic design with a delightful pop of color, and Spotify offline music support.
Gear Fit 2 Pro (2018)

The Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro delivers a best-in-class fitness band for athletes and those who aspire to reach their fitness goals. Seamless, fluid and water resistant (5ATM), Fit Pro is durable enough to take on your day and stylish enough to stay with you at night. Key features include water-resistance to 5ATM, secure, robust band and clasp, sporty and dynamic design with a delightful pop of color, and Spotify offline music support.

Atom is an indoor training bike. It is unrivalled in its ergonomics and connectivity, meaning that serious cyclists only have to worry about their performance. It provides an exceptionally smooth ride experience in a small footprint, and the noise output is minimal, making it suitable for home use. Curventa led the creative process, unearthing key consumer insights, and delivering a product that resonates with cyclists. There is no other product currently on the market that has such a rich set of features creating a truly disruptive outcome.
Atom Trainer | Indoor training bike (2018)

Atom is an indoor training bike. It is unrivalled in its ergonomics and connectivity, meaning that serious cyclists only have to worry about their performance. It provides an exceptionally smooth ride experience in a small footprint, and the noise output is minimal, making it suitable for home use. Curventa led the creative process, unearthing key consumer insights, and delivering a product that resonates with cyclists. There is no other product currently on the market that has such a rich set of features creating a truly disruptive outcome.

The Keep Smart Indoor Cycling bike adjusts resistance levels and programs workouts based on users’ specific conditions. Users can enjoy one-on-one coaching from the comfort of home. Resistance levels are electronically moderated and controlled, which liberates users from shifting gears and offers higher precision. The controllers are equipped with OLED display showing real-time settings and exercise data to better motivate users. Resistance levels can be tuned automatically as online programs suggest ways to enhance exercise results.
Keep Cycling Bike (2019)

The Keep Smart Indoor Cycling bike adjusts resistance levels and programs workouts based on users’ specific conditions. Users can enjoy one-on-one coaching from the comfort of home. Resistance levels are electronically moderated and controlled, which liberates users from shifting gears and offers higher precision. The controllers are equipped with OLED display showing real-time settings and exercise data to better motivate users. Resistance levels can be tuned automatically as online programs suggest ways to enhance exercise results.

WalkingPad is a light, small and smart walking treadmill designed to accommodate domestic exercise needs with a maximum speed of 6km/h. Thanks to the patented folding mechanism which folds the walking surface in half, it can be easily stowed, for example under a bed, desk or sofa. This allows the user to quickly remove the treadmill to make the most of short exercise windows, at home or in the office. The walking surface is embedded with sensors that precisely measure the walking positions of the user along with paces and other critical parameters, allowing WalkingPad to precisely accommodate the walking speed of the user and fit their moving habits.
WalkingPad (2019)

WalkingPad is a light, small and smart walking treadmill designed to accommodate domestic exercise needs with a maximum speed of 6km/h. Thanks to the patented folding mechanism which folds the walking surface in half, it can be easily stowed, for example under a bed, desk or sofa. This allows the user to quickly remove the treadmill to make the most of short exercise windows, at home or in the office. The walking surface is embedded with sensors that precisely measure the walking positions of the user along with paces and other critical parameters, allowing WalkingPad to precisely accommodate the walking speed of the user and fit their moving habits.

The STIL-FIT Functional Trainer is fully customizable, with minimal space requirements and the option of integrating it into every interior. Functional Training is characterized by three-dimensional and authentic movements that activate whole muscle groups – thus allowing for an intense full-body workout.
STIL-FIT Functional Trainer (2020)

The STIL-FIT Functional Trainer is fully customizable, with minimal space requirements and the option of integrating it into every interior. Functional Training is characterized by three-dimensional and authentic movements that activate whole muscle groups – thus allowing for an intense full-body workout.

Butterfly coach is a personal trainer app with an user interface which offers gamification mechanics playfully motivating the user.
Butterfly Coach (2020)

Butterfly coach is a personal trainer app with an user interface which offers gamification mechanics playfully motivating the user.

This rowing machine combines clean lines and chic minimalism for maximal stability and minimal use of space.
Mobifitness - Casa Rowing Machine (2020)

This rowing machine combines clean lines and chic minimalism for maximal stability and minimal use of space.

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Now manufacturers such as Technogym from Italy, WaterRower GmbH & NOHrD and STIL-FIT, both from Germany, actively address the issue of fitness equipment matching home environment. They profit from the dynamics of the housing market and the scope which it offers for the standards of living culture. “The architecture in new buildings in high-priced city centers is gaining higher quality. At the same time the living space is getting smaller”, Anton says and continues: “Today only very few people still have the option of placing their home trainer in the basement. That's where we see our opportunities."

Recently the classic home trainer and most popular rowing machines are facing an entirely new development. Health tracking using tablets or smartphones has become an integral part of home fitness equipment. A study published by BearingPoint, a management and technology consultancy from Frankfurt/Main, found that the popularity of wearables among Germans has slightly increased in the past years. While in 2017, 18 percent of respondents used a smartphone or tablet for digital health, this figure has now risen to 27 percent in 2019. The study analyzed usage behavior of 1,000 people from the age of 16 up.

App designers react to these demands. Chris Alt, iF juror and fitness trainer from Hamburg, says: “Apps adapt more and more to individual needs and training performance and thus become, thanks to artificial intelligence, a virtual coach.”

How Fitness Equipment Turn to Lifestyle Objects

Chris Alt, what do you think are the challenges in fitness app design?

“Above all, fitness apps should be fun. And this can be achieved through entertaining quality content, good and simple usability and an appealing app design. Since users prefer real videos rather than animations, designers should consider the human aspect in designing the user interface. Apart from that, apps should be highly customizable, for example through selection options such as fitness level, language or subtitles, male or female trainers, light or dark screen view, music styles and much more.”
Chris Alt – Art Director and fitness coach from Hamburg

Read the whole interview

It is to be expected that the networking of home fitness equipment will expand since the digitalization is irreversible. In a couple of centuries, the trending designs of today might be exhibited in a museum and we might wonder why fitness equipment would have been designed in harmony with our home environment, instead of designing the human body with cyborg technology.

 

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(published in August 2020)