Netpulse may prove to have timed things perfectly during the recession—at least according to Bryan Arp, CEO of Netpulse, an interactive entertainment platform company that offers on-demand TV and videos on fitness equipment.
The San Francisco-based company fared well during the recession, Arp says, as club operators put off major capital expenditures, instead focusing on adding the Netpulse universally compatible add-on screen and entertainment platform to existing equipment in an effort to upgrade without buying new equipment.
Now, as some club operators seem to be adding money for capital expenditures into their budgets for 2011, Netpulse could again be the beneficiary. The company’s platform is now no longer an add-on but an integrated part of six fitness manufacturers’ cardio equipment.
“We hit the timing really well,” Arp says.
Life Fitness, Technogym, Matrix Fitness, Star Trac, Octane Fitness and Woodway will now offer Netpulse’s interactive digital media platform embedded in the touch screen control panels on their equipment. The integration will be showcased later this week at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association Trade Show in San Francisco. The six manufacturers account for more than 70 percent of fitness equipment global sales.
The platform can be integrated into equipment already installed at clubs, as long as that equipment has a touch screen and isn’t more than about one year old, says Arp, because the capacity of the technology on older equipment isn’t great enough to support it.
The Netpulse platform tracks users’ workouts and makes that history accessible on any Netpulse-enabled equipment. It allows for iPod/iPhone connectivity, personalized media playlists and access to social media. Exercisers also can view live TV and multiple channels of on-demand programs and music videos.
The platform captures data about what every member is viewing on the platform, and Netpulse can change the content it offers nightly based on what is popular. So far, on-demand TV is more popular than live TV. Music videos and movie trailers are also popular, Arp says.
“They don’t want to watch a heavy drama,” Arp says about users. “They like short, mindless content.”
The technology integration does not add a cost to the fitness equipment, and no subscription is required to activate it, Arp says. Club operators just have to connect to the network, much like they would do with their computers.
The platform also offers asset management for club owners. From one location, they can log in to see the mileage on their equipment, see how often it is used and manage when it must be serviced.
The use of Netpulse’s platform in each of these pieces of equipment won’t lessen the ability of the fitness equipment manufacturers to differentiate their equipment from each other any more than the addition of TVs in equipment lessened that ability, Arp says. Instead, each fitness equipment manufacturer will innovate on top of the Netpulse platform.
And club operators will be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors who also have Netpulse-integrated equipment, Arp says, by writing different applications to be used with the equipment, something that Netpulse is already working on with several club owners.
Netpulse has been in talks with additional manufacturers about integrating the technology into their touch screen control panels, so Arp says to expect the platform to show up integrated on other equipment brands before the end of the year.
Right now, however, just the current six manufacturers will reap any benefits that the integration provides.
“It’s a very nice solution,” says Kevin Corbalis, executive vice president of marketing and product development at Star Trac, Irvine, CA. “Netpulse has been at it for quite some time. I think they’ve figured out a compelling business model that makes sense. We’re happy to be involved and able to offer that through our system.”
In addition to the introduction of this integrated platform, Netpulse added Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness and now chairman of New Evolution Ventures, to its board of directors last month. Kurt Weinsheimer also joined the company as vice president of business development, and Joe Hawkins joined as vice president of operations.