Treadmills Are the Comeback Story of 2019

Group training classes that use treadmills are the breakout fitness trend of the year for health clubs. Here’s how you can make the most of it.

Few elements of health club training are as durable as the treadmill. According to the 2018 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report: “Reflecting an ongoing trend, over the past three years, treadmills have reigned as the most popular piece of equipment, with 43% of members using them.” And, says the report, treadmills are the top equipment choice of every single age demographic.

One reason for the enduring success of treadmills is that they serve as the ideal equipment for the most basic types of exercise: walking and running. While the simplicity of the treadmill is its strength, it’s also been a drawback. Many people associate the treadmill with boring, repetitive workouts.

This may be one reason why treadmills have been losing their overall grip on consumers in recent years. As IHRSA research shows, even though treadmills are still the most utilized equipment in health clubs, overall usage is down. From 2015-2017, treadmills declined 5% in overall popularity among members as younger exercisers gravitated to more specialized classes and training systems.

Now it appears the decline may be over. Recently, group trainers and fitness programmers have devised ways to incorporate the treadmill into the most popular exercise trends, such as HIIT and heart-rate training. It’s been a smashing success. According to an article in USA Today, “ClassPass analyzed more than 60 million reservations made in 2018, and found that there was an 82% increase in classes that incorporated treadmills from last year.”

If you’re a club owner, you need a treadmill strategy. Especially if your current units sit unused on the cardio floor.

Making Treadmills Cool Again

Health club owners have good reasons to spotlight treadmill training as a prime option for members. Here are five of them.

1. The familiarity of treadmills solves “the paradox of choice.”

In the book The Paradox of Choice, psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that giving consumers too many choices makes them anxious and unhappy. Ultimately, they walk away. Think of it as “mo’ equipment, mo’ problems.” The familiarity of treadmills removes this drawback of modern consumerism. Says fitness historian Natalia Mehlman Petrzela about the recent upsurge in treadmill use: “I think [treadmills’] popularity is part of a reaction to some of the fanciness and complexity of the fitness world.”

2. Group X makes treadmills fun and social.

Using treadmills as a key element in group training counters some of the negatives associated with treadmill training, mostly that it’s a tedious workout. Social, high-intensity classes are anything but boring.

3. Treadmills make the onboarding process easier for selling group X.

Everybody understands treadmills and how they work. The comfort level of treadmills make it easier for trainers to introduce new fitness concepts to wary members. Those who may resist joining a HIIT class using medicine balls and resistance bands will be an easier sell if the class is treadmill-based. And the sooner you can get new members signed into a regular group class the more likely they’ll stay a member, according to data.

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4. Today’s treadmills are app-connected entertainment centers and biofeedback devices.

A treadmill designed for today’s plugged-in consumer offers multiple entertainment channels and LCD screens to keep any workout from being monotonous. Members can also track their physiological data through many high-tech machine consoles using wearables and apps. This keeps members committed to their results-driven programs.

5. Treadmills are more versatile than ever.

If you have a premium treadmill with up-to-date technology, you have a machine that’s adaptable to casual exercisers and elite athletes alike. No matter what kind of workout you want, you can get it on a high-end machine.

This ability of treadmill training to cater to every demographic makes having a selection of innovative high-tech units essential for multipurpose health clubs. To ride the wave of the treadmill surge, you need a brand that delivers every advantage.

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Redefining the Treadmill Experience

Technogym has long been an industry leader in product innovation, and now they’ve revolutionized the treadmill concept with Skillrun. The Skillrun treadmill utilizes advanced engineering concepts to create a new standard in elite indoor sports training. Powered by Technogym’s Multidrive Technology, Skillrun will satisfy any exerciser who craves intensity and versatility in their training options.

Technogym offers club owners the advantage of providing members with a wide spectrum of today’s most popular group and individual workouts through Skillrun’s three versions:

Skillrun TX 500: Best for overall high-intensity workouts like bootcamp, this unit features a 10-inch interface designed for focused, high-performance workouts.

Skillrun Unity 5000: Best for running and HIIT, this machine has a 19” touchscreen offering high-quality viewing of training and entertainment content.

Skillrun Unity 7000: Able to accommodate sled and parachute training, this treadmill delivers the ultimate athletic experience, including advanced biofeedback data.

Via its tech-savvy interface, all Skillrun units give consumers everything they desire through its intuitive dashboard. It offers guided workouts, class booking and tracking, wireless audio, and instant adjustments through its Fast Track Controls. The navigation controls allow for seamless and quick changes in training disciplines with a full range of incline options and step speeds.

For clubs with space limitations, Skillrun’s ergonomic design frees up 30% more working space than most standard units allow. And its modern, sleek look will please brand-conscious club owners who want to project a contemporary aesthetic.

To learn more about Skillrun treadmills and other products and services from Technogym, visit their website and select your region.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org