CES 2020 Fitness Trends — What We Saw, and What We Are Watching
It’s amazing how fitness focused CES has become over the years. Tech companies continue to infiltrate the fitness space, and in the same breath, many fitness giants are taking every possible opportunity to integrate tracking, interactivity, and other tech advancements into their product range. Since Peloton landed as the Uber of fitness, so to speak, everyone has been snapping at the brand’s heels with new approaches to the live streaming fitness at home segment. We’ve seen VR tech being explored as a training tool, new sensor technology being adapted for improved training metrics, and even completely new approaches to fitness equipment surfacing at CES rather than through conventional fitness trade shows. It’s a brave new world out there, and this innovation boom is bringing more competition into the fitness space than we’ve seen in quite some time.
As we started to look at recapping some of the more noteworthy launches from the CES 2020 fitness trends, we tried to keep a few key details in mind. Most importantly, our goal was to avoid the gimmicks, and rather focus on equipment and tech that shows legitimate potential in the fitness space. As you’ll see as we work through the list below, some of our choices come in as impressive competitors in an existing category, whereas others bring something entirely new to the market.
As noted above, everyone seems to be going after the Peloton craze these days, but MYX Fitness are so directly targeting the indoor cycling giant that a button on their homepage actually reads Meet The Un-Peloton. The formula here is obviously very familiar—a high spec indoor cycle, a 21.5″ HD touchscreen display, interactive/pre-recorded training programs tailored towards your fitness goals, and with all this, a monthly subscription to access all of these fantastic training options.
The key difference (surprise surprise) is price; MYX Fitness is selling their bike as a complete package with floor mats, dumbbells, a wireless heart rate monitor, a foam roller, and other goodies for only $1,499. They also opted to undercut Peloton’s monthly subscription fee, offering the MYX Fitness subscription for only $29. As it stands we’ve yet to take this thing apples-to-apples against the Peloton bike, or the Nordictrack S22i indoor cycleNordictrack S22i indoor cycle for that matter, nor has the majority of media out there. It’s a great concept, but as is the case with many of these tech-focused bikes, the quality vote will in part come down to how good their programming is, and how much of it is on offer.
On the other end of the spectrum, Nurvv Run brings high precision sensor technology and data capture into the consumer space for 2020. Geared towards runners that are looking to improve their overall performance, these smart insoles will capture things like stride length, cadence, footstrike (what part of your foot touches down first), pronation, and running/stride symmetry. Once you know what you’re looking at, you’ll be able to make corrections in how you run, helping to improve your run and avoid potential injuries that could arise. By linking to both your smartphone and Apple Watch (if you own one), Nurvv can give you both visual and auditory cues during your run to keep you up to date on your pacing and other goals. Simply set a target, and Nurvv will do the rest.
Now, not everyone likes running while loaded up with their personal tech, and it seems Nurvv’s founders thought of this when designing their system. There is a start/stop button built into the insoles themselves, allowing them to capture data during a run that you’ll be able to access the next time you fire up the app after you’ve returned home. The units have 5 hours of standalone battery life, so you don’t have to worry about running out of juice either. Last but not least, it’s also worth noting that Nurvv isn’t just meant for running on a flat track or a treadmill deck. Nurvv’s ‘advanced positional technology’—as they call it—is able to account for uneven surfaces too, so even outdoor trail runners can take advantage of the system’s benefits. Priced ad $299.95 and presently in preorder phase (deliveries starting in late January 2020), this isn’t an inexpensive piece of kit, but given what these insoles can do, it makes perfect sense that the price would be relatively aligned with the smartwatch/fitness tracker market.
This interesting evolution of ‘we’re the Peloton of Category X‘ has now reached the rowing category via the startup Ergatta, even though NordicTrack already jumped on that bandwagon with their RW900 rowing machine with interactive training and 22″ touchscreen display. Where Ergatta stands out and looks to alter the dialogue is in programming style, and overall machine design. The brand realized that while most potential consumers appreciate some sort of motivation and encouragement beyond running built-in training programs, not everyone wants the traditional instructor-led training that most brand have on offer.
Rather than following that model, Ergatta takes more of a ‘video game challenge’ approach, loading their machine with hundreds of different competitive challenge-based races. You can see how you stack up on their community leaderboard, or simply compete with yourself as you progress towards your own fitness goals. It’s a neat model. and knowing how prevalent gaming is amongst adults these days we have to say this was a smart move. As an added perk, the Ergatta is also a water rower—the more popular style of rowing machine on the market these days. Though there’s something to be said for the silent operation of a magnetic resistance rower, many find the soft sloshing of a water rower to add a sense of calming comfort to their workout routine.
While we’re still talking about water, here’s a unique one that we’ve been tracking for a while now. The Manta 5 Hydrofoiler XE-1 isn’t brand new for CES 2020, but rather something that’s been in prototyping and development for a good while now. It’s so odd, so different, that we initially held off on any kind of coverage until we were convinced that the self-powered water cycle was actually heading to market. As it stands, it seems the brand’s first couple of months of production are already sold out (though no official word on what their production capacity is), and Manta5 is taking orders for the Hydrofoiler XE-1 in their June 2020 production allotment as we speak.
So, what is it? Think indoor cycle meets paddleboat, meets hydrofoil technology. It’s a new adventure in both transportation and fitness, albeit one that will take users some getting used to overall. It’s a workout to operate, but thanks to its gearing it is also (apparently) a half decent means of transportation on water, so long as things aren’t too rough. Especially given its sticker price, this thing is the definition of niche; according to the Manta5 website, its introductory pricing of $7,490 will end on April 1, 2020, to be followed by a standard retail price of $8,990. That said, I can’t help but want to give it a try.
In the same way that interactive training cycling is booming in the cardio space, it’s starting to look like BFR—blood flow restriction training—is poised to become the next big thing in strength training. First sighted roughly a couple of years ago, the training technique is gaining more and more scientific backing in the last year or so, leading more companies like Smart Tools to develop equipment and programs to bring the practice into mainstream fitness and rehab.
The basic principle involves restricting (but not entirely cutting off) blood flow to the muscle group you are training, which in turn amplifies the metabolic stress and cellular swelling of the muscle. The challenge for those looking to test out this practice is primarily setting the correct tension on the wraps used for restriction. This is where Smart Tools comes in, as their Smart Cuffs use air pressure bladders, allowing users to precisely set the pressure/restriction point of their cuffs in order to use the technique as precisely and effectively as possible.
Closing out this list, we’re faced with another Peloton-ish option with a fairly significant twist. The Amazfit HomeStudio is all about the interactive training, yes, but it also adopts the practice we’ve seen recently from products like Mirror, and the Echelon Reflect HD screen fitness mirrors that have been cropping up in the fitness space this past year. The giant display—known as their Smart Gym Hub—looks something like a cartoonishly oversized smartphone, delivering streaming fitness training of all sorts; running, recovery/stretching, yoga, strength training, presented by a host of high-level instructors.
The treadmill also appears to be a fairly high spec slat-style treadmill, capable of a 20 km/h top speed with up to 7 degrees of powered incline. As it stands no specs on the motor, warranty, or other key details are currently available. We do know that the Smart Gym Hub runs a fairly high-performance speaker system from JBL. Frankly, the company website presently feels like it’s all show with little in the way of details and specifications, however its a unique enough offering that we at the very least thought it deserved a mention here. We’ll keep you up to date as more information on the package comes available.