Interactive Exercise Bikes

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.
interactive exercise bike

Interactive exercise bike are popping up at gyms and fitness centers around the country. These bikes allow you to ride virtual courses or play computer games while steering and directing your avatar through the virtual world.

Purpose

Fitness center managers can tell you that every January gym facilities get flooded with new members looking to get back in shape for the New Year. Unfortunately, about six weeks later, many of those new members stop visiting the center, cancel their memberships, and avoid exercise for the next year. There are lots of reasons for people to quit exercising, but many people simply find exercise distasteful and tedious. The manufacturers of interactive exercise bikes aim to put the "fun" into your fitness experience. They're trusting that you'll become involved and engaged in the game, and you'll learn to enjoy your workout.

The manufacturers of interactive exercise bikes aren't the only ones to think this. Exergaming has become a major fitness trend in the last five years with the introduction of the Wii and with new game systems from Xbox and Playstation allowing for more interation.

Types of Interactive Exercise Bikes

Some interactive bikes have the game system built in, so that all you have to do is plug in the system, choose your game preference, and start pedaling. Other systems require you to use an external gaming console, like a Playstation or Wii system, that plugs into the bike, and using the bike as a game controller. Some of these systems also enable you to hook into a wireless internet system. These wireless systems allow you to compete against other riders worldwide. You can also save your riding performance, allowing you to compete against yourself at a later date.

  • Expresso Bike: The Expresso Bike comes in adult and youth sizes. The bike offers a built-in LCD screen loaded with interactive cycling routes, games and social networking capabilities. A new rider creates a profile and log-in so that the computer can store and track information. You can race against your own "ghost," race against other riders and compare your times to riders worldwide. You can also link your profile to your Facebook and Twitter accounts to share your workouts with your friends.
  • Exertris Bike: The Exertris Bike was first introduced in the United Kingdom and has yet to make a big impact in the US market. These bikes come with a built in LCD screen, a gaming console and an onboard PC. Unlike the Expresso Bike, you purchase the games separately and load them into the system. You can choose from games like Gems, Orbit, Solitaire and Space Tripper. To keep you engaged in your workout as you play, the speed and resistance level of the exercise routine can impact your game performance.
  • Hoggan Active Cycle: The Hoggan Active Cycle hooks up to a Playstation 2 console, and enables you to turn any Playstation 2 car, boat, motorcycle or biking game into an interactive experience. You don't need an external power source for this bike, you simply begin pedaling to turn the system on. You also have to manually adjust the resistance level by turning a simple knob, just like you would on a group cycling bike. Unlike the other exercise bikes, you do have to use a separate TV to play the games, but for group games this can actually be beneficial as all the players can compete on a single screen.

If you're a gamer at heart and you're looking for a way to get motivated for exercise, you just might want to consider trying an interactive bike.

Interactive Exercise Bikes