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“Fitness On Demand”

Your kind of workout, right at your fingertips
Brian Motley of the NL Recreation Department demonstrates how patrons can choose customized workouts with touch-screen technology. Use the center’s aerobics room and equipment (below) and invite your friends. The program is free until March 1. (photo by Lori Lindner)

NORTH LIBERTY– Imagine customizing your workouts at the gym: choosing your favorite instructor, requesting your own intensity level, setting a time limit on your workout and even picking your own workout partners (and coincidentally, leaving your least favorite out).
Would it motivate you to exercise more?
The staff at the North Liberty Recreation Center hope so.
It’s called Fitness On Demand, and it is now available at everyone’s fingertips.
For the next month, it’s absolutely free.
North Liberty Assistant Recreation Director Brian Motley is excited to offer the program to all recreation center users, free of charge until March 1. His department recently purchased the equipment and subscribed to the Fitness On Demand program, seeking to better utilize the facility’s aerobics room, as well as make exercise classes more convenient, comfortable and accessible to more patrons than ever before.
“That room doesn’t get used a lot other than when scheduled fitness classes are going on, which is usually in the evenings,” said Motley. “We are trying to (target) the times when that part of the facility is under-utilized.”
A touch-screen kiosk uses photos and text to allow anyone to come to the workout room on the second floor of the facility, choose a specific, customized workout any time the room is not already in use, and exercise to a video on an 80-inch television while using the center’s space and equipment.
That means nearly any day between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., a person or a group of people can enjoy all the amenities of a workout class within their own chosen structure.
Workout choices range from yoga to step aerobics, resistance band classes, weight training with dumbbells, fitness kickboxing and even Latin dance (similar to Zumba), using the center’s equipment for those types of sessions.
“There are a lot of different exercises to choose from, and each workout shows the equipment you need to use,” said Motley. Currently, the room contains medicine balls, dumbbells, resistance bands, yoga mats and blocks, stability balls, aerobic steps and other necessary equipment. If the program proves successful, the workout choices may eventually include spinning and kettle bell workouts.
“Some people might be concerned we are trying to push out live instructors, and that is definitely not the case,” Motley said. “But some people might not feel comfortable coming to a class with a bunch of strangers. So maybe with this option, they come with a friend, or they come on their own when there aren’t other people in there.”
Motley visited a recreation center in Mount Pleasant that uses Fitness On Demand, and learned that their program has actually increased attendance at scheduled classes with their live instructors, by introducing people to a workout setting or certain types of workouts, giving them a chance to try them without a significant financial commitment and minimizing the fear of trying something new in front of strangers.
“On the screen you can select your own class, but it also shows our scheduled classes, so people can get information about what our classes involve, who the instructor is and when they are going to take place,” Motley said. “It’s kind of cool in that sense.”
Also cool is the chance to work out with friends in a group setting without the inconvenience of rearranging the furniture in someone’s living room: the space is already set up and ample, a variety of equipment is readily available for more than one user, and a wide range of workouts come at the touch of a screen, without having to buy and store all those DVDs. And having exercise buddies is a big key to consistency and success.
“You have someone holding you accountable if you know your friends are waiting for you to show up,” said Motley.
The touch-screen is super user-friendly and self-directed, but Motley wanted to reassure anyone who has questions that recreation center staff are always available to offer instruction and assistance. Ultimately patrons retain control of their choices.
“If you go in and the workout seems too hard, you can always step out and select something else,” Motley said, as long as no one else is waiting to use the room.
The Fitness On Demand setup will also provide data on how many users are choosing certain types of workout sessions and their durations, which will guide Motley in determining the kind of live classes to offer in the future.
“I can get a better feel for what people are wanting,” said Motley.
Fitness On Demand is free until March 1.The center will institute a daily drop-in fee, or add the feature to existing membership packages the center now offers after that date.
“We just want people to come in and try it, see if they like it,” said Motley. “That’s our goal.”
So go on, be demanding with your fitness choices. The North Liberty Recreation Center welcomes it.