By Team ICG® Master Trainer Jim Karanas and ICG® Marketing & Product Director Gary Warren
Forward Motion Video was first produced for, and used in, Indoor Cycling classes in the form of DVDs. DVDs paved the way for production companies like Virtual Active to bring Hollywood-level filming to the fitness industry.
We would never detract from the contribution these DVDs and their producers made to the indoor-cycling industry. Going forward, however, there’s a point of contention that we consider critical: continuing to use DVD as the medium for providing forward motion video.
In response to Jim’s last post, “Video Done Right”, Gino Nacey, one of the pioneers of Forward Motion Video, offered his “1% disagreement” and commented, “as long as the DVD is played on a big screen, I don’t really see why we should knock it – if all a site can afford is a projector, screen and some DVDs then if the video is well done, they should have a great experience.” We appreciate Gino’s feedback.
DVDs are seen by some in the industry as a good option for clubs, a way to provide a quality visual experience in an indoor cycling class. ICG® believes that, at this time, DVDs will do more to inhibit the development of both indoor-cycling programs that offer video and the instructors who teach with it.
DVD is being superseded as technology progresses. Despite DVD’s low initial purchase cost for club owners, is it really forward-thinking and fit-for-purpose with respect to the skills instructors need to develop to enhance their classes with video, as they do with music? We believe DVD limitations are one reason more instructors don’t teach with forward motion video.
What can an instructor truly do with a DVD? The instructor can’t alter the programming or investigate the synergies that exist between music and video. The profile is unchangeable. DVD length can’t be altered to fit the music. That limits the music that can be used with the DVD. The instructor can’t swap out portions of the DVDs, which makes it impossible to alter the profiles to create endless class variations.
DVDs lack the essential tools the instructor needs, such as selecting and changing footage at any given point in a profile, repeating parts of a video, skipping parts of a video, or switching to panoramic footage for water breaks or to shift the experience. Even more importantly, DVDs don’t permit the instructor to keep the footage running to match the music track length, or vice versa. Any of the above can be done – with one touch – with a system like Myride®+.
DVD offers the same ride time and again, and the ability to use different music is limited.
The use of DVDs for virtual classes may seem to make sense initially, particularly if the voiceover coaching and the music are good. Again, the number of different rides is limited because DVD footage is fixed and can’t be reprogrammed. Also, quality of filming comes into play because Standard Definition on a large screen looks unrealistic.
But it’s more than that. Virtual classes have to be highly advanced in coaching, graphics, filming techniques, post-production techniques, and exhibit extremely compelling locations because they now do what instructors do – lead the class. We also have to push the limits of technology to enable consoles to provide “virtual class” schedules, where console and projector turn on and off at selected times to enable the club owner to offer classes without an instructor present.
It takes a platform of technology that can continue to grow to make the experience (and the buyer’s investment) stronger over the years without fading. Sustainability is key, and DVDs can’t make the cut.
Are DVDs passable? For the retail market, yes. But for sustainable commercial operations where the consumer is savvier and more demanding as competition rises, perhaps not.
Finally, our tree-hugging moment. DVDs are not green and create an enormous amount of waste product that is eliminated with the use of advanced digital technology. CDs and DVDs don’t decompose. Their composition is too complex to make large-scale recycling possible, unlike aluminum, glass or paper. So old CDs and DVDs must be shipped to a special center for recycling.
Then there’s packaging. 85% of under-24s believe that downloading music can help save the planet by reducing the packaging, waste, and carbon emissions involved in producing and transporting CDs and DVDs to shops.
Here’s what video in indoor cycling needs:
1. Improved content-delivery tools for video that offer increased programming features, designed to enable instructors to utilize this new asset fully and owners to embrace the ROI they can get from video done right.
2. Increased availability of high-quality video through network delivery that will enable us to bring new video to our customers as easily as we bring new songs.
3. Improved filming and post-production techniques to enhance immersion and raise the member experience and the demand for video.
4. A shift away from a retail product that’s not green and that experts say won’t be around much longer.
We believe Myride®+ fulfills these needs, except item 2, which it will in the immediate future.
As always with new technology, there’s a higher initial cost – in this case, for the digital media console and the HD projector. But let’s not confuse initial cost with “total cost of ownership” (TCO). The cost of a DVD media system may be low, but it wastes money if it’s not sustainable and/or doesn’t fully meet the market’s needs. As demand increases and more companies play a role in development, digital video costs will decrease. Continuing to advocate DVDs, which give the club owner a cheaper option without a complete understanding of its limitations, will hinder forward progress.
The end result seems inevitable, and DVD may delay the transition but won’t prevent it.
ICG® respects Gino and his organizations for all they’ve done to pave the way. But ICG® can’t recommend adherence to an outdated form of presenting video to the Indoor Cycling industry.