The annual FIBO exhibition in Cologne is where the world's fitness companies – large and small – comes to show off their latest wares in the hope of capturing the imagination (and money) of the public at large.
We saw a lot of awesome and mental stuff at FIBO this year, but only one stand amongst the hundreds in Cologne Exhibition Centre made us stop in our tracks and declare, "Heeey, now this thing might actually be The Future Of Fitness."
In existence for just over a year now, the FitQuest is a fitness-measuring machine developed by British company MIE Medical Research Limited. In just four minutes – with a bit of effort on your part – it gives you a comprehensive overview of your physical strengths and weaknesses, in far greater detail than any wearable device is capable of.
These are the (surprisingly knackering) tests that the FitQuest Machine puts you through in order to ascertain your fitness levels:
You must stand on each leg, hands on hips, for 15 seconds per leg. The steadier you can stand, the better the onscreen crosshairs will stay centred on the target.
You must perform as many press-ups as possible within 30 seconds, with your hands on the platform. (You'd be amazed just how long 30 seconds can feel...)
You jump as high as you can, landing back on the same spot on the platform.
You run on the spot, like a manic little wind-up toy, for 30 seconds.
Straight after the manic 30-second sprint, you grasp the two steel bars either side of the FitQuest's screen for a full minute. This serves two purposes: firstly, it tracks how well your heart-rate recovers from being cranked right up; secondly, it passes high and low frequencies through your body, determining your fat-to-lean ratio.
The end result is a fascinating breakdown of the areas in which you're doing well, and the areas you need to work on. Here are my results (spoiler: I'm good at running and my recovery rate is strong, but I have the upper-body strength of a sickly child).
The FitQuest machine is currently being trialled in gyms throughout Europe, and its potential is pretty huge: rather than getting a partial record of your progress through the use of wearables and apps, a fortnightly, four-minute go on one of these down your local gym would you give the kind of fitness MOT you'd only normally get by visiting a doctor.
Your results are emailed to you instantly, so that you can pore over them at home and see how well you're progressing
Besides appearing onscreen, your results are emailed to you instantly, so you can pore over them at home and see how well you're progressing (or how badly you're falling victim to Jaffa Cakeism, either/or).
The nice man on the FitQuest stand told us – in hushed, conspirational tones – that the company were currently in talks with several gym chains to get these machines spread far and wide across the UK.
If you see one, give it go – just don't get all hurt if it tells you you've got the flimsy knees of an elderly giraffe. It's only a robot, it doesn't know it's being hurtful.