Gym workouts just got more adventurous

Fancy cycling through the streets of Paris; hiking through the Trinity Mountains in northern California or tackling The Pinnacles track in New Zealand - without even leaving the Illawarra?

Thanks to a major upgrade of the equipment at the University of Wollongong Recreation and Aquatic Centre (URAC), you can take a virtual trek through these landscapes and many more.

As part of a more than $650,000 investment, URAC is the first health club in the southern hemisphere to attach Lifescape screens to its treadmills, stationary bikes and cross-trainers.

URAC health and fitness manager Claire Rayner said the touch-screen televisions allow users to bring their workouts to life by immersing them in different outdoor adventures.

The integrated machine controls speed up the video as the exerciser runs faster and matches the resistance or incline to the varying terrain.

"There's a wide range of real-life high-definition landscapes from all over the world for users to choose," Ms Rayner said.

"It adds a fun, interactive element to your workout and can help ease the boredom you sometimes feel when running indoors on a treadmill or sitting on a stationary bike.

"These screens are very popular in the US, and we will be downloading new landscapes each month, so there's always someplace new for our members to visit."

The screens were this week attached to 18 pieces of equipment at the main recreation centre based at the UOW Keiraville campus, and a further 28 pieces at iC Health at the Wollongong Innovation Campus.

Members can choose their country, their preferred terrain and their resistance level and they can also track their workouts, and their progression over time.

They can also access free-to-air television, on-demand music videos or even plug in their iPhones or iPods and upload their own videos or lecture notes to the Lifescape screens.

"Other clubs have attached screens on some equipment, but these don't offer the variety of the Lifescape screens," Ms Rayner said. As well as the upgrades to the centres, URAC is also set to launch a high-performance area at its sports hub.

This will feature a new weight lifting platform, boxing gym and the latest in elite sport training equipment.

"We are the first health club in NSW to have Synergy 360s - a piece of training equipment which is great for small groups," Ms Rayner said.

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