Sunday, December 16, 2012



At this years IHRSA meeting in San Francisco, I decided to spend the first day's early morning workout using the equipment supplied by Technogym.  This Italian company sure knows how to design beauty into exercise equipment.  It's stuff that I could picture in the living room of my imaginary Pacific coast beach house. But what else would you expect from the home of the fashion industry?  The company was running an incentive in the booth to have exercisers "try out" all the different pieces, they would then check off a game piece indicating that you'd used a piece, and you would move to the next piece.  Upon finishing the circuit, you would receive a Nike gift card.  Wow, what a concept.  Reward for completing a task!  Something more than basking in the glory of the size of the sweat puddles under the machine.  The only downside to the whole experience was the distraction I dealt with in the process.  

Exercise distraction -I first jumped on the Technogym Wave, an interesting piece of equipment.  After an initial weak user experience and with some coaching by the company rep, things improved.  Next, I went to climb on the upright bike.  This is where the distraction really took off.  I was doing a heart rate controlled program, something I do as part of my personal work out most days on my own SCIFIT bike.    The Technogym screen built into the console of the bike had a video playing of the Rolling Stones. It looked like some kind of documentary.  I didn't plug in to listen because there was already enough noise and I didn't want to have to blast my in-ear speakers to have to compete.  The noise playing in the background was some kind of a deconstructed Britney Spears, techno-pop.  My eyes where seeing Keith Richards, my ears were tormented.  And then there was my workout!  The cognitive dissonance was troubling.  The entire experience was distracting, cognitively and physically distracting.  The only way I was able to get through it was to really concentrate on my own heart-rate, and play with the program.  I know there's a race to load equipment with TV's, ipod connecting and any number of other tech integrations.  Has anyone stopped to ask the question, "Is exercise distraction a good thing for the exerciser?"

Exercise engagement.  I consider the most important book I've ever read, FLOW - The Psychology of the Optimum Experience.  The author is Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi.(pronounced [ˈmihaːj tʃiːkˈsɛntmihaːji])  Any of his work comes with a strong recommendation from me for teachers, coaches, and trainers.  In the book, Dr. Csíkszentmihályi lays out the conditions that lead to a "Flow" experience - or an experience that is defined at it's simplest level as enjoyable.  Three of the key element that need to be present for a Flow experience are: 1. Clear goals, 2. Concentration on the task at hand, and 3. Direct and immediate feedback.  

We roughly translate these factors to, 1. Measure what's important, 2. Focus - with a lack of distraction, and 3. Authentic evidence.  I'm concerned that the exercise distraction we're pumping down the throats of our customers may actually be distracting them from the Flow experience and creating less than enjoyable (and ultimately productive) experiences!

Fitness as Fashion.  If you read my stuff you know I have a passion for useful data.  And a passion to mold the important stuff into a form that is valued by and easily digested by our users.  We have a need to create authentic evidence that users internalize to stay motivatedstay involved and achieve!  I had to break the news to my wife that no matter how much I trained, I'll never look like Brad Pitt.  We have a joke when I wake up in the morning, is it Brad Pitt, or bad pitts?  I'll always be Don Moxley, but I can and will constantly redefine myself with what I can do, what I've done, and what I want to do.  The pictures on my wall are the things that I've done and like to show off with pride.  What I want to do is what drives me.  The space between those is fitness!  

We have to shift the focus from what we, our clients, and the equipment looks like - fashion ... to what we, our programs and our equipment can do to help more people achieve!

I'd be interested to hear what you think. Feel free to share your comments back.  And if you know of someone you think would be interested in the discussion, send the link, or email me with their contact (email) info and I'll add them to our list.



Find "Flow" at Amazon

Learn more about "Flow" at Wikipedia. 

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