SXSW INTERACTIVE 2015
SPORTS AND THE NEW DIGITAL FRONTIER
Sport in general was a theme on schedule, and off.
Equinox President Sarah Robb O’Hagan hosted a talk —
“How the Data Era Will Build High Performing Humans” —
featuring speakers Haile Owusu, chief data scientist at
Mashable; Victor Cruz, wide receiver for the New York
Giants; and Michael Gervais, Ph.D. in high performance
psychology. The talk centered on the quantified self and
using data to augment human performance in sport —
from athletics to members of Equinox connecting their
Jawbones or Fitbits to their branded app — tracking
heart rate, success, time and sleep.
O’Hagan revealed some interesting insight on Equinox
members about how increasingly they are motivated by
not just shared exercise experiences but competition.
“We’ve set up leader boards for cycle classes, East vs.
West Coast. We have a SXSW one, too,” she said. “The
fact that your score is public on display adds to it.”
NBCUniversal is also applying gamified mechanics to its
fitness video program Radius.
A sign of the rising cult status of lifestyle/sport
temples SoulCycle and Equinox was their presence at
SXSW Interactive, not just on the stages but in
services. The conference partying continued, but
come dawn those same revelers were also pounding
the streets of downtown Austin, sweating off
SoulCycle, CrossFit and Equinox all had presences on
the lineup and are staging classes or pop ups. Equinox
set up next to the Fast Company Grill, inviting visitors
to take part in its new immersive competitive spin class
The Pursuit, in which data from each bike is collated in
real time with leader boards on display.
The class has just been introduced. In the official version,
cyclists are surrounded by screens displaying creatively
visualized data generated by their movement.
This is an interesting addition for Equinox. We are seeing
more digitally immersive exercise classes. Reebok just
introduced a whole series of immersive fitness classes
with Les Mills that are offered in enclosed boxes lined in
digital interactive screens. At CES, artist Lia Chavez
also created a "meditation nightclub" for The
Cosmopolitan hotel, which translated meditative
brainwaves into a visual digital experience.