Fitness is a big deal at at CES in Las Vegas. The Consumer Electronics Show this year has featured a few would-be Peloton beaters, but none quite as off-beat or as technologically advanced as the Wondercise Flex Cycle. Part of the new Wondercise Cycle Studio setup, this four-position exercise bike is like some kind of workout Transformer, letting you exercise in multiple positions to suit your style and to tone different muscle groups. As good as the Peloton Bike+ is, it only has one positional setting, after all.
Wondercise also wants to beat Peloton, Echelon, iFit, Apple Fitness+ and all the other online fitness platforms by adding a kind of Zoom/social network element to its app. Now, as well as following professional trainers on video when doing your indoor bike training, you can actually broadcast your own workouts, so Wondercise users can cycle along with you, whilst monitoring their speed, heart rate and wattage stats. For fitness influencers, this could be a very handy new toy.
Mainly, however, I expect the Wondercise Flex Cycle to take on Peloton et al by being cheaper. I say 'expect' because Wondercise won't actually give me any pricing. However, the services and wearable devices it's put out to date have been very reasonably priced compared to rivals and also, come on, look at it: with its stripped down design and no screen built in, the Flex Cycle is obviously going to cost less than something like a Peloton Bike+.
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So what is Wondercise Cycle Studio?
Wondercise Cycle Studio is a smart cycle training system, which is very comparable indeed to Peloton's. It's a segment of Wondercise Studio, which includes a wide range of workouts, from experts including – get this – 'four-time MMA champion Luis ‘Baboon’ Palomino'. Okay.
As I mentioned up top, Wondercise Studio – including Cycle Studio – is also a kind of fitness social network, with live streaming workout capabilities. Wondercise says Studio also allows you to 'receive personalized advice and feedback from trainers in real-time… message and interact with others in a class… follow others and build your own network.'
Also cribbed from existing networks such as Peloton's there are live leaderboards so you can see how well you're doing compared to your past performance and your peers', and heart-rate tracking and calorie burn estimates via compatible devices from Apple, Garmin and Wondercise itself.
This kind of gameifying of fitness has been shown to work really well and to be highly addictive, in a good way.
Anyway, back to Wondercise Cycle Studio and Flex Cycle.
Flex Cycle is 'the world’s first 4-in-1 exercise bike', allowing you to access a choice of 4 training modes and 2 seat configurations, via manual adjustments to the bike's frame. It also appears to fold up for storage, although Wondercise hasn’t mentioned this in its promotional material.
As well as heart rate tracking via Wondercise's Timeless Band, an Apple Watch or compatible Garmin device, you can also strap on one or more Wondercise Trackers. These allow the system to monitor the movement of your body – presumably your legs primarily, in this case – to 'detect and track rider’s training capacity.'
It's not at all clear what this means but in theory it the sensors could track things such as your cadence and how equal – or not – the power exerted by your right and left leg is. At present, Wondercise says that metrics tracked by Cycle Studio as a whole are heart rate, elapsed time, distance, RPM, watts and calories burned.
Eric Chuang, Wondercise CEO, says: “With increased time spent training at home, our mission remains to revolutionise the way people get fit and healthy. These new products epitomize our ambitions to grow as a company, offering unique, advanced, and sociable experiences that make exercise easier, stress-free, and enjoyable.
“We understand people desire the flexibility to work out when and where they like, with highly accurate performance tracking technologies, which they can do with their friends and family. All of our new products, in particular the Wondercise Studio social media platform, allows customers the opportunities to do that on-demand.”
Wondercise has thrown a lot of elements into the mix, here. Possibly too many, but you have to admire their ambition. With the likes of Peloton now finding it increasingly difficult to attract new users for its more premium offering, Wondercise could clean up, but time will tell on that front. It'll largely depend on whether the Flex Bike is as good as it looks, and whether it's as cheap as I expect it to be. Also if the Studio social network takes off and wondercise's training programmes prove to be of high enough quality.
Wondercise Studio, Cycle Studio, Flex Bike, Timeless Band and Trackers are all set for roll-out worldwide this year. We don't have any pricing info at this point but hope to have more news and a Flex Cycle review as soon as possible.
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