It’s funny to think that spinning – that is, sitting on a stationary bike! – became one of the most popular forms of exercise in the last decade. We have SoulCycle and Peloton, among other brands, to thank for that. They turned the individual hamster wheel into an engaging, entertaining, and community-driven form of fitness. You no longer feel alone when in a SoulCycle studio class or Peloton streaming class. It’s a magical result of innovative technology and human psychology: the desire to be part of something bigger, to find inspiration and instruction in a team setting.
This “Peloton-ification” (admittedly, the word doesn’t roll off the tongue) can be seen across nearly every category of fitness these days: running, strength, yoga, dance, boxing, stretching, climbing, Pilates, and more. Nearly every category. The only conspicuous sport missing is swimming, despite being one of the most popular activities that boast unmatched benefits as a low-impact, full-body way to stay in shape.
Why is this?
First off, it’s a massive physics challenge to stream live audio through water, which is why, for years, swimmers could only choose among outdated MP3 devices that were clunky and a hassle to pre-load. Streaming technology is the engine that drives modern fitness. Classes need to be on-demand, ideally with live options, and users want to interact with the platform, both socially (leaderboards, following each other, etc.) and analytically (metric tracking, achievement badges, etc.). Without the hardware to enable underwater streaming, swimming could never shed its reputation as a solitary and dare we say boring way to exercise. (We know that some hardcore people claim to love staring at the black line and to sing the same songs over and over again in their heads, and we applaud them. We aren’t those people.)
Secondly, how do you create Peloton-style guided workouts that can accommodate such a wide range of pool sizes and swimming abilities? Once you have the hardware, you need an app that simulates a live coach in your ear, transforming your standard pool time into a creative training session that flies by due to charismatic coaching and fun music. Running and spinning instructors have it easy: “speed up, slow down.” But swimming is a unique beast and requires imagination to envision the various scenarios that a swimmer might be in; for example, if a coach is ending an interval set, some swimmers might already be at the wall while others are halfway down the pool, and the coach needs to accommodate both contexts. This requires imagination and also clear filters for classes that are designed for a specific pool length (25 yards, 50 meters, endless pool) and for particular difficulty levels.
We were two “non-swimmers” who loved boutique fitness and wanted to love swimming, so we spent the past five years tackling this problem: both the hardware and the software. The result is Zygo, and we’d love for you to check it out. www.shopzygo.com
Guest post by Zygo, image courtesy of Zygo