SEASON 1 / EPISODE 2 Pop Culture Tech Podcast

Is the Gym Dead?

Is the gym a place you go – or does it, thanks to game-changing fitness technology, become all about the connected experience?


In This Episode:

  • The evolution of fitness
  • Uniting passions for health and technology
  • Digital training experiences
  • Exercise innovation fueled by AI, algorithms and automation
  • The elevation of interactions

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Featuring (In Order of Appearance)

Aly Orady, CEO of Tonals, joins Blakely Thomas-Aguilar in Pop Culture Tech Podcast episode two on fitness technology and trends.

Journey to Healthier — Fitness Beyond the Gym

Just thinking about exercise makes some people sweat. But that was before — when staying fit required you to go to a gym, purchase a stack of VHS tapes or fit a Zumba class into an already busy schedule.

Today, thanks to digital technologies, the world of fitness is more personal and accessible. Devices at home and wearables on our wrists make becoming healthier part of our everyday lives. Smartphone apps track our heartbeats and steps. They measure our runs and bike rides. They even monitor some of our medical conditions, like cholesterol or diabetes.

Because it’s always close by, fitness technology is making us smarter about our choices and helping us track our progress. And now with digital platforms available nearly everywhere, we can up our fitness game — choosing new connected experiences, built by engineering experts, to become faster, stronger and more in control of our own health destiny.

Uniting Passions for Health and Technology

“There was a journey and a moment,” recalls Aly Orady, founder and CEO of Tonal, describing his path to merging technology and fitness.

He was sitting on gym bench after having lost 70 pounds and realized that as an engineer working busy hours in Silicon Valley, there wouldn’t be time for 6 a.m. gym visit.

“So I really wanted to find a way to be able to work out at home, but didn’t know how the giant strength training machine I was staring at was going to get into my apartment,” he says. The light bulb went off. “If I could create something that ran on electricity, I could probably shrink it down.”

He did, designing the first digital weight engine that relied on electricity and electromagnetics to produce force.

Exercise Innovation Fueled by AI, Algorithms and Automation

According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportclub Association, the $30 billion health and fitness industry in the U.S. has been steadily growing 3-4 percent per year for the last 10 years.

Software innovation boosts participation. There are hundreds of health and fitness apps available.

Wearables forever changed the way people think about exercise and engagement. And now artificial intelligence (AI) is taking personalization to the next level — analyzing what you’re doing and making decisions about what to do and when. Coupled with automation and algorithms, the possibilities to improve health outcomes seem endless.

The Elevation of Interactions

Greater personalization is also poised to change traditional fitness roles, says Orady. “The days of a personal trainer standing next to someone counting their reps for them probably aren’t going to last forever.”

He believes that traditional fitness experts need to elevate the way they interact with customers. They’ll need to give them even more personalized experiences, check in with them regularly, provide nutrition advice, answer questions and more. And combining technologies like Tonal with the expertise of fitness trainers everywhere may be just the motivation we need to get started or keep moving on our journeys to healthier.

The Pop Culture Tech podcast is brought to you by VMware, the software that connects, automates and secures the world’s digital infrastructure. Learn more at VMware.com.