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Life Fitness enters race against Peloton for virtual exercise classes

Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

CHICAGO -- A new entrant has joined the interactive stationary bike race with Peloton.

Life Fitness, the Rosemont, Ill.-based health club equipment manufacturer, announced this week it is rolling out on-demand exercise classes on the touch screens of its bikes, treadmills, ellipticals and other cardio fitness products.

But unlike Peloton, which brought the gym spin class home with its expensive, digitally connected bikes, Life Fitness is looking to replicate the virtual training experience in health clubs and hotels, where most of its equipment is located.

"As we've seen the market landscape change dramatically over the last few years on the consumer side, the desire and the appetite for this type of coaching activity in the health clubs has grown," said Dan Wille, 49, vice president of product development for Life Fitness.

Life Fitness On Demand has an inaugural library of 80 fitness classes across a range of equipment. The virtual classes feature real fitness instructors from Chicago and New York, who work up a sweat and exhort the machine user to "get after it" and other coach-isms designed to help you complete a 15- to 30-minute workout. The classes are filmed at a studio in New York.

While it may seem counterintuitive to bring the faux club workout into an actual health club, Wille said Life Fitness is both defending its turf and responding to growing consumer demand for the heavily advertised Peloton experience -- even in health clubs, where real live exercise classes are ostensibly held.

 

Some health club members prefer the one-on-one training experience and avoiding the glares of fellow classmates while huffing and puffing through a workout, Wille said.

"One of the reasons we went down this path was we were seeing our commercial customers -- both clubs and hospitality -- putting Pelotons in their commercial space," Wille said. "Members were saying, 'I work out at the club, I don't work out at home. I want that content.'"

A Peloton representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

There is one key difference in that content, however. Peloton offers a full schedule of live streaming classes, which enables instructors and users to interact, while Life Fitness classes are prerecorded. The Life Fitness library will expand to 200 classes over the next year, but Wille declined to say if there are plans to offer live classes down the road.

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