Smart treadmills, fitness kits under the Christmas tree

Mon Dec 5, 2011 5:04am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Santa's fitness elves have affixed smartphone technology to home equipment, programmed Tour de France terrain into stationary bikes and stuffed holiday stockings with trendy and functional workout toys.

Home treadmills, those stalwarts of basement exercise intentions, are becoming so sturdy, smart and sophisticated that they're giving the fitness center machines a run for their money, according to Colleen Logan of ICON Fitness, a Utah-based equipment company.

"Consumers can check email, watch news, shop online and do everything they now do with a tablet," Logan said of the new NordicTrack X9i, a home treadmill with an Android browser built into the console. "This is a brick house; a 100-percent gym experience at home."

Technology has revamped the stationary bike as well. The ProForm Tour de France, which inclines and declines to 20 percent, allows the home exerciser virtual access all 21 legs of the Tour de France bicycle race.

"This is really a cycling trainer, not just a stationary bike," Logan explained.

Treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike or stair stepper, before you surprise someone with a big-ticket item, make sure it's one they'll use, advises Jessica Matthews of the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

"When it comes to cardio (machines), be in tune with what they're in tune with," she said. "So much depends on personal preference."

Of course, the smaller the gift, the smaller the worry.   Continued...