3 Top Cardio Trends in 2023

What’s leading the future of interactive cardio equipment? Life Fitness highlights current cardio trends and member usage data.

In 2022, we saw the continued rebound of the health club industry. In 2019, the fitness industry hit an all-time high market value of $41.8 billion, only to tumble to $28 billion the next year. But, notes market and consumer data firm Statista, market revenue was back to a much healthier $32 billion for 2022.

As clubs bounce back and members return in increasingly higher numbers, we’re seeing the emergence of new trends and patterns, many driven by what both members and operators learned during the pandemic.

The Rise of Cardio Trends

In particular, notes Matt Brennand, vice president of cardio at Life Fitness, we’re seeing several trends across cardio and cardio equipment, including the ways that members interact with the equipment, its increased capabilities, and more. He outlines three key trends.

1. Back to Basics, With a New Twist

“We’re seeing modalities that replicate human motion, coupled with a more symbiotic relationship between exerciser and machine,” Matt notes.

Walking, jogging, running, riding, rowing, and climbing are the categories of movement with the most traction versus “new rides” that may not feel as natural. But there is a growing expectation for the equipment that facilitates these motions to be more adaptive to the exerciser as opposed to the exerciser having to adapt to all aspects of the equipment.

“That includes more sophisticated personalization that serves up guidance on the type of workout, how to get the most out of the workout, and tips on how to use the equipment more effectively are considered high value,” he adds.

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2. More Immersive Experiences

This can range from more immersive coaching and replicating outdoor experiences to educational content, entertainment, and more.

“Instructor-led video-based classes on main-floor equipment are now more of an expectation than a desire in the post-COVID world,” he says. “Exercisers want to watch their own entertainment content in whatever app solution they choose. More intuitive integration with wearables at all equipment price levels has become an expectation, along with displays on cardio keeping up with consumer electronics.”

That means larger screens, higher-definition content, better picture quality, better touch sensitivity, wireless charging, and more robust WIFI connectivity—all focused on supporting a much more immersive experience for the exerciser.

3. Increased Member Engagement

“For facilities, one of the more interesting trends in this post-pandemic world is the ability to connect with their exercisers in a more engaging way on cardio machines,” says Matt. “We continue to have requests from facilities wanting to deploy their own video-based content to our displays.

“This started more in the form of instructor-led classes, but the requests have evolved to include other educational and promotional content; content that can better connect the member to the facility’s brand and culture. For those regions that may still be impacted by COVID or individuals that would prefer not to exercise in a small space with others, this provides the ability to have a simulated group class environment or instruction from a trainer on a cardio unit.”

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Answering the Trends

“Life Fitness has had a heavy investment in R&D, resulting in several exciting new product introductions this year,” he says. “A majority of our cardio portfolio will be updated, evolved, and reimagined.”

And much of that means aiming development squarely at the trends highlighted above.

“Our most near-term, primary launch is focused on the trends of exerciser immersion and facility member engagement,” he says. “Life Fitness is introducing our latest console technology, named SE4, successor to the SE3, on our Integrity Series of products. To create this new console, we conducted extensive research with exercisers to really understand the nuances of how they want to interact with our display technology and what technologies most resonate. We learned bigger is better when done right. Our new console will be 24 inches, compared to the SE3’s 22 inches.”

Life Fitness will offer the option for the 24-inch console on all modalities, including:

  • treadmills,

  • cross-trainers,

  • Arcs,

  • upright and recumbent bikes, and

  • climbers.

“Most non-tread products in the industry utilize a 16-inch console due to a variety of constraints, like handle interference,” Matt asserts. “Our biomechanics team worked to ensure a comfortable and natural experience on the products while still giving the exerciser a full 24-inch, high-def experience.”

In addition, Life Fitness offers a new LCD technology that allows for better picture quality in all lighting conditions, improved brightness and contrast, and better touch sensitivity—all packaged into a much thinner profile.

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“From an experience perspective, we’ve designed different user personas to make for intuitive navigation that tailors the experience around the type of content the user is interested in,” he says. “Our new display comes with over 500 video-based content experiences, including beautiful, interactive virtual terrains and motivational, instructor-led content. In addition, standard with our product is the ability for the facility to upload their own video-based content to our cloud-based website to then deploy to the consoles.

“This includes the ability to overlay music, branding, titles, and descriptions, which then show up on the console in a carousel for the exerciser to choose from. We’ve really tried to make content creation more accessible for all by keeping it simple, intuitive, and inexpensive. Think of it as a content management system for cardio equipment,” explains Matt.

“We’ve also created the tools to support customers with filming. This includes an audio-visual production kit recommended by our partners in the fitness content filming industry. It utilizes any smartphone and very affordable audio and lighting equipment that can be purchased from Amazon for under $1,000."

Life Fitness has also recently introduced an entirely new cardio line, Aspire Series. While the Aspire line is geared to the growing HVLP market segment, it’s suited to any high-traffic facilities. The equipment is affordable, reliable, biomechanically sound, and still packed with technology that exercisers are excited about, says Matt.

It offers an intuitive display illuminated by high-end white LEDs and includes features like Apple Gym Kit connectivity to connect to your Apple Watch, reinforcing the trend of wearable technology becoming important at all price levels—all with a three-year parts and labor warranty.

“At Life Fitness,” Matt states, “our mission is to perfect human interaction with our products. We are driven to elevate the experience; to create a symbiotic relationship between human and machine. We have several products in development that will continue to support this mission.”

To learn more about Life Fitness cardio equipment, visit their website or contact your dedicated Life Fitness consultant.

Jon Feld

Jon Feld is a contributor to Club Business International.