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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

People: Sharon Cook

The challenge with older people is getting them to the gym in the first place. You don’t want moving around the facility once they’re there to be a challenge too Sharon Cook, senior lecturer, Loughborough Design School

Published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 7
The Osteoarthritis Suit enables wearers to ‘walk in the shoes’ of an older person and experience the physical challenges they face
The Osteoarthritis Suit enables wearers to ‘walk in the shoes’ of an older person and experience the physical challenges they face

You’ve designed suits to simulate the physical limitations of old age and osteoarthritis. Tell us more
Ergonomics is concerned with improving the safety, comfort, ease and reliability of people’s interactions. We can think of this in terms of four Ps: improving how People interact with Products/services in given Places (environments) following Procedures (formal/informal ways of use).

Loughborough is the only UK university to offer ergonomics at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and in 1994 the Ford Motor Company approached us. It had recognised that an ageing population was going to lead to a higher number of older drivers; it wanted its young designers to be more aware of the physical challenges faced by these drivers, in a bid to change the way they designed. We developed The Third Age Suit – a three-dimensional, full-body wearable simulation that allowed the young designers to experience some of the impacts of ageing for themselves.

In 2006, NAPP Pharmaceuticals then commissioned the whole-body simulation of osteoarthritis to raise awareness and improve understanding of this prevalent and often debilitating condition. In 2011, Stannah Stairlifts purchased The Osteoarthritis Suit for use by its design/engineering teams worldwide, to improve its product designs in the same way Ford had. The suit was also used in NHS staff training to give an insight into what it can be like to be an older patient.

How do the suits work?
For a given health condition, research is undertaken to find out more about it. This can be drawn from literature, medical/health professionals and those who have the condition. Based on this data, the requirements of the simulation can then be developed and integrated into the suit. For The Third Age Suit, this included reducing mobility, tactile sensitivity and some aspects of vision.

In terms of possible uses for the suits, workplace design is an obvious area, as are public transport, leisure facilities, shops and shopping centres, restaurants… Really anywhere an element of ‘walking in my shoes’ will help convey a message.

How might health clubs use this simulation technology?
Wearable simulations could help health clubs and leisure centres understand how accessible their facilities are for older users. How easy is it for them to walk into the facility, move around it, get onto equipment? Are the floor surfaces suitable for those who might be at greater risk of a fall?

The challenge with older people is getting them to the gym in the first place, as many view it as ‘not for them’. You don’t want moving around the facility once they’re there to be a challenge too, otherwise it will put them off returning.

The suit can’t give a full picture of an older user’s experience in a gym. It can’t simulate muscle strength – you can’t get on a piece of equipment and see what it feels like for an older user – and it obviously can’t offer any insight into the psychological factors that might act as a barrier to older people wanting to join a health club.

However, accessibility is a big issue for health clubs – the IFI is already doing a lot of work in the fitness sector to make gym equipment accessible to all users, including disabled people. Older people can have similar physical limitations, and wearable simulations can help you better appreciate those limitations.

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https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/276889_342745.jpg
Full-body wearables that let you walk in the shoes of older adults
Sharon Cook, senior lecturer, Loughborough Design School, active ageing, Third Age Suit ,Sharon Cook, senior lecturer, Loughborough Design School
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features

People: Sharon Cook

The challenge with older people is getting them to the gym in the first place. You don’t want moving around the facility once they’re there to be a challenge too Sharon Cook, senior lecturer, Loughborough Design School

Published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 7
The Osteoarthritis Suit enables wearers to ‘walk in the shoes’ of an older person and experience the physical challenges they face
The Osteoarthritis Suit enables wearers to ‘walk in the shoes’ of an older person and experience the physical challenges they face

You’ve designed suits to simulate the physical limitations of old age and osteoarthritis. Tell us more
Ergonomics is concerned with improving the safety, comfort, ease and reliability of people’s interactions. We can think of this in terms of four Ps: improving how People interact with Products/services in given Places (environments) following Procedures (formal/informal ways of use).

Loughborough is the only UK university to offer ergonomics at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and in 1994 the Ford Motor Company approached us. It had recognised that an ageing population was going to lead to a higher number of older drivers; it wanted its young designers to be more aware of the physical challenges faced by these drivers, in a bid to change the way they designed. We developed The Third Age Suit – a three-dimensional, full-body wearable simulation that allowed the young designers to experience some of the impacts of ageing for themselves.

In 2006, NAPP Pharmaceuticals then commissioned the whole-body simulation of osteoarthritis to raise awareness and improve understanding of this prevalent and often debilitating condition. In 2011, Stannah Stairlifts purchased The Osteoarthritis Suit for use by its design/engineering teams worldwide, to improve its product designs in the same way Ford had. The suit was also used in NHS staff training to give an insight into what it can be like to be an older patient.

How do the suits work?
For a given health condition, research is undertaken to find out more about it. This can be drawn from literature, medical/health professionals and those who have the condition. Based on this data, the requirements of the simulation can then be developed and integrated into the suit. For The Third Age Suit, this included reducing mobility, tactile sensitivity and some aspects of vision.

In terms of possible uses for the suits, workplace design is an obvious area, as are public transport, leisure facilities, shops and shopping centres, restaurants… Really anywhere an element of ‘walking in my shoes’ will help convey a message.

How might health clubs use this simulation technology?
Wearable simulations could help health clubs and leisure centres understand how accessible their facilities are for older users. How easy is it for them to walk into the facility, move around it, get onto equipment? Are the floor surfaces suitable for those who might be at greater risk of a fall?

The challenge with older people is getting them to the gym in the first place, as many view it as ‘not for them’. You don’t want moving around the facility once they’re there to be a challenge too, otherwise it will put them off returning.

The suit can’t give a full picture of an older user’s experience in a gym. It can’t simulate muscle strength – you can’t get on a piece of equipment and see what it feels like for an older user – and it obviously can’t offer any insight into the psychological factors that might act as a barrier to older people wanting to join a health club.

However, accessibility is a big issue for health clubs – the IFI is already doing a lot of work in the fitness sector to make gym equipment accessible to all users, including disabled people. Older people can have similar physical limitations, and wearable simulations can help you better appreciate those limitations.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/276889_342745.jpg
Full-body wearables that let you walk in the shoes of older adults
Sharon Cook, senior lecturer, Loughborough Design School, active ageing, Third Age Suit ,Sharon Cook, senior lecturer, Loughborough Design School
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Featured supplier news: Technogym awarded “Supplier of the year” at ukactive awards 2021
The best in class of the physical activity sector have been revealed at the ukactive Awards 2021.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Uptivo: Individual and group heart rate tracking
Uptivo is an all-in-one digital solution for fitness clubs, fitness boutique studios and personal trainers that provides powerful tools to schedule activities, manage member payments, and monitor heart rate both for remote and on-site classes.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
Everyone Active has signed a number of new deals which will see the operator strengthen its digital product offering, Everyone on Demand.
Company profiles
Company profile: TVS Group
The TVS Group supply and install sports and fitness flooring to a wide range of ...
Company profiles
Company profile: REGUPOL BSW GmbH
REGUPOL is one of the leading suppliers of sports and safety flooring, anti-slip mats for ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
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Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
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Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
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Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
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Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
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