Over the years, I have gathered with friends at conferences and brainstorming sessions have sometimes devolved into ridiculous sessions of wondering and prognosticating where the development of treadmills would go in the future. Some of the ideas have developed like being able to link devices to the machine and, upon the dawn of the internet, make personal training interactive or simply allow personal training to take place over large distances.
Treadmills where you are suspended have been developed although we have found out that some of these designs are not very reliable. At least the factory took a chance. The problem is when the factory can’t admit that they are building a money pit that will require the owner to dump more and more money to keep the unit operating.
Information flow has become much better as well with some commercial and higher end machines being able to self-report to the manufacturer on the condition of the machine, maintenance needs, and usage statistics. Some home machines are able to interface with factory servers to track individual statistics to help people understand their progress and track their workouts.
The big chasm that we have bridged is the idea of entertainment and fitness. As I’ve pointed out for over 2 decades, fitness is not a primary activity. By primary activity I mean something that you have to think about to do it properly. It’s like writing a blog post is a primary activity. Taking a math exam is a primary activity. Listening to music, driving a car (unfortunately), or working out doesn’t typically require you to spend massive brainpower.
That’s why I suggested a few decades ago that making entertainment the focus of a treadmill is not going to sell well. We have had machine after machine make an attempt to do this but most people like to be distracted when we work out. My favorite thing to do is catch up with some shows on Hulu on my iPad while I am doing my daily treadmill exercise. It just takes your mind off what might be a boring activity.
Some of the things that we still haven’t seen are levitation treadmills…surprised we haven’t seen somebody at least do a one-off of this idea. I would think there is a billionaire somewhere willing to pay millions to have a treadmill no one else has but we haven’t heard of one yet.
Other far less serious ideas have been discussed as well. My favorite was from a rep in the upper Mid-West who thought it would be a great idea to put a pasta bowl holder on your treadmill so you could have spaghetti and meatballs while you did your daily workout. One crazy idea that I actually rigged up was a fishing rod with a dollar bill hooked onto the end so I was always chasing the dollar on the treadmill…never caught it though.