One of the biggest challenges facing gym owners is to keep their equipment operational and get optimal use out of it. Consider treadmills. According to Raj Rao, General Manager, Connectivity Systems for Life Fitness, a manufacturer of fitness equipment, "If you have several treadmills on a floor, you'd be surprised how different the usage is of each machine over its life cycle. So you could end up replacing a treadmill earlier than you would have done if you had just switched a heavily used unit with one with less mileage." He adds, "Then, just to move a treadmill three feet to the left to improve its utilization, the staff has to rewire the network or possibly even take it down for a day or two."
The challenge To help gym operators make the most of their equipment by implementing a wireless mesh network.
Life Fitness spent more than a year researching technology to achieve three aims for their system: it had to be wireless to avoid cables strewn throughout the workout areas, it had to let operators install or upgrade machines with no downtime, and it had to help gym customers keep track of their workouts. The company rejected WiFi-based systems because of their power-hungry nature and settled on Crossbow Technology's battery-powered wireless mesh network. Each fitness machine is equipped with a wireless sensor or mote that communicates to a gateway and acts as a repeater for other nodes. Move the equipment and the network reconfigures itself. Operators can reprogram the motes remotely and can use the system to create a virtual trainer for gym members.