Yesterday I met with Osla, the Class manager of Institute of Sport & Exercise. Talking with Osla felt more like a tutorial rather than an interview. It wasn't really a Q&A session; I would describe it more like a lecture as it took a completely different format. I explained my project idea and Osla in return gave me so many ideas to consider which was really amazing food for thought.
Osla raised the question of how my product can be fully inclusive. She described how older adults cannot always follow the pace of a class, or how hearing impaired people cannot hear the music, therefore are not able to follow the beat. I think this is something to consider, however, I do not really want to go down the disability road or design specifically for older adults just yet, as I am not sure whether my product will be aimed for a class environment or personal use.
We talked about the gym VS the class environment. The gym can be intimidating for some. According to her experience, a lot of people think they will be judged in it. And I agree! I felt intimidated the very first time I went to the gym; I didn't know what to do, the weight lifting machines seemed daunting, plus the fact that I did not know how to use them made the experience a lot worse. What if I tried to but ended up making a fool of myself? So the first few times I was just using the bicycle, treadmill, steps as their use was self-explanatory. (That was until I got someone to introduce me to the wonderful world of weight-lifting). This is a reality for a lot of people. I have friends who want to work out and look better/feel better however just the thought of entering this environment, discourages them. On the other hand, classes are great for people who need motivation. Working out with other is a great motivational tool, as you push one another more.
She mentioned how some sports like fencing, boxing and badminton might find useful my mat, as they use a certain pattern for feet. Since, I've been fencing since I was 10 I can't really think of a use for fencing, as we mostly step forwards and backwards. However, the en garde position always takes some time for beginners to perfect.
Osla outlined a few important fitness facts:
Range of motion. What does that mean? Basically, it's about body extension, reaching further than you can, using more muscle groups.
Technique: If you were personal training an untrained individual, you would not ask them to start with a burpee right away.
I think one of the most surprising insights from this session was on abs. Osla revealed to me that no instructor wants to teach abs! Apparently is a very dull class they all hate undertaking.
I hate teaching abs. There's only so many ways you can bend your spine - Osla
Another thing we discussed with Osla was yoga. I was introduced to the concept of Prana Yoga. In Prana it is believed we have 7 layers of light within ourselves. Our pranic body is described as a mass of light energy in the same shape as our physical body. She suggested embedding a yoga style mat with leds, creating a pattern for each part of the body, prompting the users to follow the sequence of the lights in order to perform the exercise.
Imagine a dark studio being illuminated by the soothing lights coming from the mat. - Osla Allen
We wrapped it up as Osla suggested watching AFTERGLOW (a short film created by Phillips, where a team of skiers wearing suits adorned with 7,000 LED lights, rode down slopes illuminated by multi-coloured spotlights to show how high-tech lighting can enhance an experience), leaving me to wonder: Where does sport end and where does art begin?
It was quite a poetic way to finish this hour-long session, from which I will keep the following:
The gym can be an intimidating environment to some.
The more muscle groups you use, the better the workout.
Routines must be changed otherwise will not be effective.
People are most likely to adhere and repeat an exercise if they are with a PT.
Everyone hates abs. Gym instructors included.
Need to set small, achievable goals.
Have a way to keep track of the progress.