“Pure Fitness has always been about innovation; we were the first in Asia to offer RealRyder bikes, as well as our Immersive Fitness Studio in California Tower. We also introduced virtual fitness, for people to take fitness classes on demand,” John Leung tells us, the designated ‘Techspert’ of Pure Fitness’s Innovation Lab series, which started in late June. “We wanted to further push ourselves as an innovative company, and the new Innovation Lab allows us to interact with our customers to see what they like.”
New-fangled pieces of equipment at the Innovation Lab go above and beyond your average elliptical, pushing physical boundaries and demonstrating how we could be working out in the future. The machines introduced through the Innovation Lab are made to be available only for a limited time, and people can offer feedback through an accompanying iPad. If the collective feedback is positive, Pure will then be putting in an order for the equipment for a permanent spot in its roster.
“We have a committee to work out what to put into the Innovation Lab; to filter out the junk and gimmicks, and have equipment that will actually enhance the workout,” says Leung. “Our criteria is: equipment that’s innovative, that really enhances fitness, and is also fun.”
To test out just how groundbreaking the future of working is set to be, we went and tried all three new equipment pieces from the first wave of Innovation Lab.
The Virtual Reality Fitness Bike
You’ve probably gone to a spin class before; you may have even tried Pure Fitness’s THE TRIP — where you can ride into a panoramic sunset (literally), facing a 270º immersive screen. The immersive environment is said to enhance the sense of anticipation and reward, making you forget about the excruciating length of the workout and push yourself harder. This line of reasoning is expanded with Pure’s first Virtual Reality Fitness Bike, which gives you seamless immersion into different worlds via VR tech. Currently only located at the ICBC Tower branch, the VR Bike is kept in the gym café area, which makes it a little awkward to play, but once you strap on the goggles, you quickly forget the outside world exists.
Instead, you’ll find yourself in a totally game-ified version of your average spin session. Put on the wild west game and you’ll be lassoing bandits, leaning side to side and cycling faster to catch them. Change to the unicorn game, and you’ll become a majestic beast yourself, cycling faster to fly around an expansive hillside, collecting gems along the way. There’s even a racing game for those looking for a speed challenge. With your mind focused on winning, you’ll hardly notice you’re breaking a moderate sweat, burning roughly 300 calories in just half an hour. This was our favourite equipment we tried, and we sincerely hope Pure adds it to its permanent roster.
Available at Pure Fitness ICBC Tower until the end of August.
The Technogym Unity Mini Tablet
If you’ve ever stepped into a commercial gym and felt lost or intimidated at the weights machines, the Mini Utility Tablet is meant to alleviate that stress. Attached to one of the chest press machines, this experimental gadget is inconspicuous, no bigger than an iPad mini. But within, it’s essentially a virtual coach: you not only get a tutorial on how to set up, adjust your position and start doing chest presses, but it also has an animated, rhythmic diagram that guides you through each rep and set — tailored to your abilities.
One drawback we found was that it doesn’t offer the little tips and moments of guidance you might get from a personal trainer: things like relaxing the shoulders, tucking the elbows, knowing how far to press, etc. However, it does push you to your max and helps to acquaint you with the machine, which makes it a nice piece of equipment to start with for beginners on the weights floor.
Available at Pure Fitness Langham Place until the end of August.
With a maximum of 12 students, Pure’s small group training classes at the SoHo Kinwick Centre branch are located in its downstairs gymnastics turf area, away from all the action in the main gym. Here is also where Pure has installed the HIITMill X treadmill, which is making its Asia debut.
Used in the Athletic Endurance high intensity interval training classes, the HIITMill X can be used in a number of ways as a standalone workout station. The treadmill surface is self-powered through momentum, so you can run, walk, do side steps, or go backwards with easy control.
It features a magnetic resistance break, so you don’t have to worry about falling flat on your face — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Just crank up the resistance dial and you’ll be pushing the hardest you’ve ever pushed in a workout. To make things even more challenging, the arms off both sides allow you to perform Farmer’s Walk exercises (holding a heavy weight as you walk or run on the spot). The benefit of this machine is that you’re not restricted by space, and you can technically go on forever (also the downside if you don’t know when to stop).
During our trial, we tried running forwards while grasping the bars in front, and walking backwards uphill with stabilised straps in hand. Both exercises killed our lower body, as you’re essentially pushing and pulling your body weight at an incline. If you want a workout that’s going to make you feel the burn in your core and quads well into the next day (take it from me), you’ll want to take the HIITMill X for a spin.
Available permanently at Pure Fitness Kinwick Centre; HK$175 for single class or HK$1,500 for a 10-class package (launch price).
Check out more from Pure Fitness Innovation Lab.