The world’s next major exercise trend is going to happen in your garage.
By Todd F. Cole
Mark my words: the future of fitness is digital connection meets home delivery, just like Uber Eats, Amazon and Netflix. Globo-gyms and swanky Finance First health clubs will all go the way of large department stores and cinema mega-plexes. Why? Because digital training at home is convenient and easy; cheaper and better value; because you won’t get the Rona; and because it’s quicker and arguably more effective. It’s the future of fitness and it’s coming to your garage.
It’s All About the Bike
At the forefront of the at-home digital exercise revolution is the indoor bike. A variety of brands have sprung up over the last few years, all with a different features and benefits, but essentially, they work on the same principle. Rides are played out on a screen and you follow along. They can be pre-recorded or live. Resistance on the bike can be adjusted to increase load and simulate hills. You can see your progress and your fellow riders’ comparative output during classes in real-time along with your metrics like speed, distance, RPM and power in Watts. As a weekend MTBer and avowed roadie I got hold of Echelon EX3 Smart Connect Bike for a few weeks to assess if this was a fad or indeed, the future of fitness.
Before we get into the bike itself, let’s talk about indoor cycling. It is a potent exercise regime by any measure. It uses some of your body’s largest muscles: the gluteus maximus and the quadriceps; and a workout can burn 600-700 calories an hour. Used regularly with a good diet, it will help improve body composition, decrease fat mass and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Jinger Gottschall, an associate professor of kinesiology at Penn State University, told Time magazine that some of her research has shown that high-intensity indoor cycling can increase fitness levels even in trained athletes. She went on to say, “In every study we’ve done, we’ve seen increases in heart and lung capacity.”
Your trainer could be in Newtown or New York and your training friends could be London and Lisbon.
Let that sink in: Every. Study. We’ve. Done. So the benefits of high-intensity indoor cycling are many and beyond doubt. It’s a regime you should be doing. Now, what about getting the right bike?
The Right Bike
The Echelon EX3 Smart Connect Bike is dead-simple to setup and takes 40-minutes from unboxing to first workout. It uses magnetic resistance to control effort levels, which range from level 1 to level 32, a quad-straining, heart-pumping effort that for me equated to about a 20-percent gradient climb in low gear on a decent road bike.
The Echelon EX3 Smart Connect Bike was not the first indoor connected bike to market and that’s done it well, in my opinion. While others have been lumbered with their incipient design principles, Echelon has learnt from other’s mistakes. Most notably, the Echelon EX3 Smart Connect Bike is a BYO device, an iPad ideally, while many of its competitors come with their own screen. The BYO iPad means you can take if off and use if for other strength and core workouts, or independent of a ride. More about that later. And without a propriety screen, it’s cheaper.
Anyway, jumping on the Echelon, you immediately feel how solid and well-made the bike is. Power up the iPad and bike, connect, choose a ride and presto, you’re away. Rides range from super easy and short to grindingly hard, hilly and long… and everything in between. During a live class an upbeat instructor thousands of kilometres away encourages you and, if you’re smashing it, will call you out by name, which is surprisingly motivating.
Your relative position in the pack is clearly displayed and as are all your metrics. There are up to 16 live classes available every day and thousands of pre-recoded classes to choose from. I got into a sweet morning routine then early one morning went down to the garage to find music blaring, and my wife powering through a 30-minute class. “You’re right honey, this thing’s awesome.”
There’s an App for That
At the heart of the Echelon Connect EX3 is the Echelon app. It’s clean, well-designed and intuitive. They’ve gamified challenges and offer badges for achievements to keep you motivated. There are also some lovely scenic rides. Nothing like cycling through Bucharest or the Dolomites for a cooldown, especially since the pandemic.
But the part I think most road riders would like is it connects to Strava and social accounts easily. It also connects to FitBit, which segues nicely to the apps’ other big plus. Besides the cycling element, the app offers FitPass, a comprehensive library of workouts encompassing everything from strength to core work to yoga and even meditation. Suffice to say, there’s something for everyone. You can grab your iPad off the bike (try doing that with Peleton’s screen), drop to the mat and start a core workout. Having a FitBit that measures heart rate would give you a world of metrics and allows you compare your HR with others in the class. Some classes incorporate weights or other basic fitness equipment. You’ll also notice that the app can connect to a Echelon treadmill and rower. But that’s for another time and review
The global exercise bike market reached a value of US$ 597.5 Million in 2020 and is predicted to grow significantly over the next few years. This is for good reason. Innovations like Echelon’s Echelon Connect EX3 are changing the way we train.
Right now, your garage may only have a couple of dumbbells in it, but in the near future it’ll have a rower, treadmill and exercise bike, and dumbbells, all connected to the internet. Your trainer could be in Newtown or New York and your training friends could be London and Lisbon. Your workout wont require a gym bag or a commute. It’s a simple as walking to your garage, booting up your device and logging on. It’s the future and it’s coming to your garage, soon.