If you've ever been to the gym after work or in your lunch hour, there's a strong chance you've considered the possibility of never returning. The hordes of in-shape strangers, the queues to get on machines, being asked if you're finished with a pair of dumbbells which you only picked up 45 seconds earlier – it's enough to make a person go insane.
It's why so many people choose to quit their memberships, work out from the comfort of their own home and maybe even look to build their own smart home gym. And crowded gyms aren't the only reason; if your life involves regular travelling, or you simply don't have a lot of free time, being tied to a gym isn't the most practical way to stay fit.
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And while serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and being forced to stay in shape outdoors with suspension systems such as TRX, it's a realisation that hit both Guy Bar and Dan Strik, co-founders of Hyfit. The pair have worked for the past two years to create a new solution to the problem, a wearable gym, of sorts, which combines sensors and tracking with traditional suspension techniques to help you work out anywhere. The $130 device is set to land on Indiegogo later this month in search of a $50,000 goal, with shipping expected to begin in April.
"Myself and Guy have known each other since we were three years old, and we both served at the same time in the IDF," said Strik. "When we were in the military, we started using the TRX system – of course, when you're in the army, you have to stay in shape. I was in the Marines and Guy was in the tanks unit, and, since there was so much interest in these suspension systems, we started to import TRX's to Israel and sell them to different companies, different soldiers. And a while after we finished in the army and began selling our own pure resistance band, we came up with a better idea.
"We really liked the idea of suspension training but we wanted to take it to the next level," he continued. "So we basically just looked at it and asked ourselves how we could make it better." The result was Hyfit.
But just how does the system work, and how does it differ from regular, non-smart systems? Well, as Bar describes it, the system comprises of typical resistance bands, but with a tracker sitting inside the left wristband with sensors able to track your heart rate, burned calories, repetitions and the resistance strength of your movements.
And it's that last measurement which is crucial here, as Hyfit is able to keep tabs on how well you're dealing with the resistance and convert that into a measurement in kilograms. This information is able to be viewed in real time, with all workouts fed into the companion app in order to give you a more long term view, too.
There's also no shortage of exercises, with Bar and Strik indicating that the user can perform more than 250 exercises with Hyfit. It's also able to connect to foreign objects in a similar manner to typical suspension systems.
"Of course, it's a bit of a modified workout because you're working with the resistance adjustors, but we feel that's what replaces the experience of going to the gym," said Guy. "And going to the gym is a big habit for some people, that's not an easy thing to replace, but we could provide for people that travel and people who don't have a lot of time. You're still getting a full body workout here."
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And while the pair acknowledge they face somewhat of an uphill battle in this regard, their initial steps in the area have been enough to catch the attention of one of the industry's biggest names – Reebok. The company's involvement isn't about the Hyfit project receiving financial support, Bar notes, but is instead about aligning itself as more of a stamp of recognition.
But still, the real draw here is bringing innovation to an area that's remained relatively barren of it since first becoming popular over a decade ago. And the way Hyfit sees it, there aren't many other options exploring the field.
"Fortunately enough, we've not seen anybody really produce anything we see as competing with us. You know, we've seen the odd smart resistance bands, we've seen this and that, but nobody is really hungry enough to capture this area of workout gear. And this isn't easy, so it isn't a surprise. Using TRX as an example again, that has a net worth of $300m, and the market for fitness gear is worth $4.6bn – this isn't easy. You have to be very disruptive, and very unique."
Generally speaking, wearable tech in the crowdfunding circle falls short because startups attempt to offer too much; they bite off more than they can chew before realising the full scale of producing and shipping a product.
But with Hyfit, we see a product that's not just innovative in its own right, but also one that's involved in an extremely popular area and with a target audience that's already been established through well known trainers such as TRX.
With both Bar and Strik sharing experience within product development in the area previously, it would appear Hyfit is well placed to dive into an uncrowded area of the wearable pool. We don't feel the price is a sticking point here, either. After all, $130 is a few months of the average gym subscription, and most other trackers which track the likes of reps and heart rate cost a similar amount.
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We imagine there's a bit of a learning curve to exercising with a suspension system, but for those looking for a gym alternative or a smarter variant to a workout technique they're already well versed in, it's difficult to look past what Hyfit is promising. We look forward to testing it out and seeing if it's the real deal once the Kickstarter campaign is all wrapped up.
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