Reinventing the stationary bike experience

Just had a great workout at the Holyoke YMCA. They’ve just installed four new stationary bikes. Normally, that wouldn’t be big news, but this is really something. I saw a flyer a few weeks ago announcing they were coming, and now they are here… and they ROCK. These bikes are made by Expresso Fitness. What makes them so special? Well, for starters, it has a video screen attached to the front of it. It’s also got a control panel for interacting with the computer that’s a part of it. So I adjusted my seat, selected a route, and off I went. It was as if I were biking around the edge of a snow-capped mountain top. (The only thing missing was a fan blasting cold air at me.) Not only is the route cool, I get to steer my bicycle so that I stay on course. AND I have a pacer, and I can control how strong the pacer rides. And if I outdistance my pacer by far (the screen always shows me how far ahead or behind my pacer is), there are other riders on the course I can try to catch, or not let them pass me. And as if all of that is not enough, the resistance changes appropriately as the terrain goes uphill, level, or downhill. Naturally, the bike also has a gear shift. The amazing thing is that as you change gears, the bike’s resistance compared to the distance generated with each stroke stays true to how it would be in real life. The images on screen are entertaining as well. It was truly a pleasure to bike around a snow-capped mountain peak. Not only do the pacer and the other bikers keep you interested and motivated along the whole route, there are also signs posted letting you know where you are and how much further to the next peak. The bike’s computer also has a selection of tunes built-in, and you can choose among a variety of genres.

That would be quite a complete package right there. But there’s one more aspect to the experience that really puts it over the top. You can create an account online, track your progress, and create a “ghost” of yourself on each ride. What better pacer than your best effort? Apparently, you’ll also be able to monitor your fitness results online. I haven’t experienced this aspect since our YMCA’s bikes are not connected online. I hope they have plans to connect them. That would be fun!

Even without the online dimension, these bikes are cool. I know that I pushed myself to go much harder and farther than I would have had I not had the beautiful visuals, pacer, and other riders keeping me motivated. I bet these bikes rapidly become a huge hit in health clubs all over the country.

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3 Responses to “Reinventing the stationary bike experience”

  1. Doug True Says:

    I love it. I have often wondered why it was taking so long to combine fitness equipment and video games. I have dreamed about a stationary bike that allows you to race others with a screen like you describe. The Nintendo Wii is also an innovation that is starting to blur the lines between fitness and video gaming. I am a Wii owner and must say that most of the games do get you off the couch. I heard a rumor the other day that there will soon be fitness games for the Wii.

  2. Morriss Partee Says:

    The Wii has spawned a hilarious web site called Wii Have A Problem… the site collects stories and pictures of all manor of things broken by playing Wii too vigorously…. including windows, furniture, televisions and people…

    http://www.wiihaveaproblem.com/show_article.php?id=148

    I’m sure a fitness game for the Wii will soon be here if it isn’t already.

  3. Butch Holley Says:

    Cool Cool Cool. I love to exercise, but I hate trying to keep my mind occupied while doing so. What a great way to bike – now I am going to my Y and asking when we will get one of these machines!

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