Design Enhancements to Improve Indoor Workouts

It’s that time of year again, when the leaves start to fall, the sweaters come out and you start taking your morning cardio indoors. It can be depressing to leave behind the wide-open outdoors for a queue to use the best treadmill at the fitness center, but there are new options and features that might make the wait worth your while and hope to improve indoor workouts.

Many fitness enthusiasts and facility managers swear by the Life Fitness Integrity cardio line that, in many cases, set the bar for what to expect in durable, user-friendly, technologically integrated exercise equipment. And while the all-too-familiar readout is still powering the classic or legacy Life Fitness treadmill, a younger more advanced sister has come along to beguile users. Meet the new Life Fitness Integrity.

The Life Fitness Integrity equipment has long been the trusted, reliable workhorse in the gym and while that reliability remains strong, the company improved the biomechanics and user features while also making the equipment easier to service.

To get the biomechanics right and the workout experience better, Life Fitness equipment designers spent a great deal of time watching workout behavior and the ease-of-use actions around its equipment, including how easy the equipment is to maintain and service if necessary. They’ve been busy in the manufacturing labs adjusting, tweaking, advancing and changing several aspects of their legacy equipment to be more user and owner-friendly, and the new products are getting rave reviews.

“Integrity has a heritage of durability and innovation throughout the years, and we’re continuing with that as we move forward with this new product,” said Justin Mayer, a senior product manager for Life Fitness. At a recent fitness industry trade show, Mayer and the Life Fitness team detailed the improvements in the console, the updated software (now with new “try me” workouts and wireless connectivity) and tactile buttons at the users’ fingertips to easily adjust speeds and other workout options. Mayer gives most of the credit to the engineers who have put the elbow grease behind both the equipment hardware and the software to introduce the new Integrity series. For just one design element, Mayer shared that Life Fitness’ “industrial design team has been really thoughtful about the exercise experience by creating an open running space” on the new treadmill, breaking up the closed-off bar into two handles to allow arms to swing freely. That’s just one of dozens of other advancements that have been made to the Integrity products, from creating heavy-duty endcaps and side decks that can stand up to daily use by the most punishing of users, to one-touch controls and streamlining the components to service the equipment easier.

Life Fitness engineers say that equipment line improvements were created to meet the requests of end users and owners that came about after countless hours of observation and feedback. Seemingly simple issues came up, including numb feet using ellipticals, improvements in accessing the deck on treadmills, a recumbent bike that is now easier to use and ellipticals with stride lengths that needed to be longer. The basic design and durability of the existing equipment wasn’t in question, it was several of these finer adjustments that would make the most successful cardio line of equipment ever built even better.

As elliptical users continuously mentioned that their feet became numb after extended use, so the Integrity Series elliptical has a new FlexForm™ pedal with a uniquely crowned shape that allows the user’s foot to make “rolling contact” with the pedal as they exercise. Since numb feet are the result of keeping feet in the same static position, the pedal design itself allows exercisers to naturally roll their foot on the pedal as they work out, removing some of that static pressure and keeping feet from becoming numb.

When it was discovered that the treadmill deck was too high to allow easy access for all types of exercisers, hours of development went into designing a more compact mechanical compartment underneath the deck itself so that stepping onto a Life Fitness treadmill was just as comfortable and easy as stepping up the stairs in your home. The treadmill workout surface was extended slightly, and with the adjustments in the internal workings the Life Fitness Integrity treadmill has a step-up height of 8 inches, a full 3 inches less than the previous Integrity model. It might not seem like much, but a 3 inch height difference makes equipment accessible to a much wider range of end user (if age or injury hinders anyone from stepping higher). Like sprucing up a beloved classic car line, Life Fitness teams improved on long-beloved Classic designs to create a recumbent bike you could step through versus climb onto, and they lengthened the stride on ellipticals to a full 20 inches to accommodate taller users and/or more vigorous workouts.

Along with the biomechanical advancements, Life Fitness also brought the fitness technology further along the innovation trail. With most workout facilities having access to standard WiFi connectivity, end-users can save and track their workout data directly from the equipment with the free LF Connect app. This cloud-based fitness data bank allows end-users to track their exercising, while at the same time allowing facility managers to track which pieces of equipment are used most frequently, to update the fitness software to make new programs available, and even to get proactive service prompts to keep equipment working in top shape. Technology services can be costly a la carte purchases from other equipment providers, so the added value is nice for those who select Life Fitness Integrity equipment.

It seems as though simplicity was the guiding hand behind the Integrity improvements. Over 60 of the control buttons were removed from the console and the most used exerciser experiences were brought front and center, making the whole experience more accessible and user-friendly. Even the equipment maintenance personnel are reaping the benefits of simplification. With the classic version of the equipment, technicians were finding it too time consuming and complex to service the equipment, particularly the treadmill. So, the Life Fitness technical team went to work to reduce the number of components involved and the number of steps needed to access the interior infrastructure. Now, the new Integrity has 30 less hardware and only one screw bars access to the components, saving service technicians significant amounts of time.

In a typical “out with the old, in with the new” scenario, many hotels, rec centers, multi-family facilities and corporate fitness and wellness centers are looking to switch out the classic equipment for the newly improved versions. Fitness equipment and design firm EcoFit Equipment offers a “trade in and trade up” program for those looking to use some of the retained value of the classic equipment, if it meets the program standards and is in working order, towards the purchase of the new Integrity line.