At Equinox, Techie Fitness Bikes Are the New Workout Coach

SXSW tries out data-driven exercise

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There's no shortage of health-related tech at this week's South by Southwest, and Equinox has an interesting data-driven spin.

The gym chain and digital agency R/GA are showing off a fitness class in Austin this week called "The Pursuit by Equinox" that's being tested in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Studio classes of 40 to 50 people are set up with Schwinn bikes that measure 500,000 pieces of data while an instructor checks their performance with an iPad-equipped bike.

As riders pedal, a digital screen at the front of the room shows the data in the form of games. For example, one game demoed at SXSW is a race that challenges people to stay at specific speeds.

The concept is to make the data that the bikes are spewing out actionable.

"There's this appetite for taking the data and making it fun," Equinox CMO Carlos Becil told Adweek.

After a class, all of the data is plugged into Equinox's mobile app so that members can track their progress and set goals.

And as this week has shown, smartwatch apps are the new mobile apps, which Equinox wants in on. The brand is building an Apple Watch app that it hopes to roll out in April.

Becil didn't say what the wrist app will entail, but it's not hard to imagine features that pick up even more data to make you work harder at the gym.

Meanwhile, NBC, Phillips Healthcare and SoulCycle have also showed off their health-tech wares at South by. SoulCycle is particularly interesting startup, entailing a 45-minute spin class that allows indoor cyclists to compete with themselves while being fueled by motivational instructors and bombastic music. SoulCycle is hosting sessions Monday through Wednesday at SXSW's Spotify House to introduce itself to the tech and music crowds, as well as herald its upcoming app.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.