Cycflix: A Good Idea…For the First Six Months

Last Updated on August 7, 2017 by Michael Brockbank

Many of us often fall victim to binge watching on Netflix. It’s quite easy to get sucked into a season of your favorite show for hours on end. But what if you’re trying to be healthy? Enter in the Cycflix. The idea is to help enhance your fitness while you waste your time trying to catch up on “The Walking Dead” or any other show. However, it may have a shorter lifespan than what many might think.

What is the Cycflix?

Essentially, Cycflix is a project based on a programmable chip that connects a stationary bike to the Netflix web-based application. The more steady you keep up a pre-defined pace of peddling, the longer you can watch without interruption. If you slow down or stop, Netflix will pause until your able to regain the pace.

It’s like a home-entertainment version of the movie, “Speed,” only you don’t blow up if your bike slows down. The software can be set for length of the workout, how often you can rest and the conditions you need to meet to keep Netflix from pausing.
This “middle-man” of sorts connects a stationary bike to your Netflix account.

For many, a Cycflix connection may be perfect for getting some exercise while grinding through an episode or two of a favorite Star Trek series.

Is it Really For You?

Exercise SettingsAs it stands, you’ll need an Arduino Nano board, the application for Cycflix, a laptop and a connection to your TV…should you want to watch it on something larger than a laptop screen. It seems a bit of a convoluted process to inspire getting exercise while watching Netflix.

In reality, those who need to get more physical activity in their day are less likely to go through the effort of hooking something like this up. And that’s the key behind anything fitness related. It’s all about motivation and effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Cycflix is a waste of time or money. It does have potential to be quite beneficial for people like me who enjoy digital entertainment and need to get into shape. However, I feel as though something like this would fall short much like any other fitness equipment.

The Problem with Cycflix

In theory, Cycflix has great potential. Personally, I often try to exercise a bit while binge watching Star Trek Voyager. But then again, workout DVDs and Bowflex machines also have potential for fitness.

That’s not my argument. My concern is those who are “not feeling” it today can simply unplug the USB or disconnect the laptop and watch Netflix regardless.

In reality, that’s the biggest problem I see with reward-based exercises. A lot of the time, it relies on a personal-honor system. It’s like having a goal to take yourself out for a fun time at Dave and Busters if you lose 10 pounds this month. Many of us will just go out and do it anyway even if we don’t meet the goal.

Time RemainingCycflix, at its core, is a reward-based system. You can watch Netflix only if you keep up the pace. Those who become frustrated will simply unplug and watch it regardless.

On the other hand, you might be one of those people who can commit to watching and cycling. But are you someone who can maintain the practice for an extended period of time?

Look at exercise equipment, for example. A lot of people will buy things like a Bowflex unit and work out diligently for six months. After which, they’ll start using the exercise machine less and less until it starts collecting dust in the corner.

Perhaps one of the most affluent issues of Cycflix is the lack of instant gratification. Many people, especially millennials, want things right now. It’s all about instant access and immediate results. A device such as this takes away that instant access part of the equation.

Is Cycflix Something I would Use?

Cycflix Arduino ChipLooking at the instructions for setting up Cycflix, I highly doubt I’ll add it to my to-do list. It’s quite a long process for something I know I will simply not use as much as I should.

However, this doesn’t mean that others wouldn’t find value in the set up process. I can see how this is appealing to some, but not for those who are too lazy to walk away from the television in the first place.

Personally, I have more stock in gamifying fitness. For instance, a stationary bike that would pit me against others around the world through a television app would be far worth the trouble of setting it up. It would be a fitness gaming console much like the Xbox Kinect. I would constantly be on that bike.

Another aspect of why I will not use Cycflix is because the instructions called for downloading something from Github. The last time, and only time, I ever used Github, a virus infected my machine the first day. Since then, I avoid the coding collaboration site like a leper in a cooking class.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Although I might seem like I am putting Cycflix down a bit, it does have one important feature. Constant movement when not thinking about the exercise.

One issue many people have when it comes to fitness is viewing it like a chore rather than a way to keep alive. When walking or cycling as you watch television, you’re not really thinking of the activity. In essence, it becomes more of an instinct while your mind is engaged with what ever it is you’re watching.

You’ll see a lot of treadmills today have a television built into them. This is one of the biggest reasons why it’s so effective. If you’re completely engrossed in a show, you won’t realize just how much your walking or riding until after the episode is over.

Advancements in Technology

Another issue I would like to bring up is how easy it is today to “hack” seemingly innocent electronic devices. Essentially, that is what Cycflix is doing. It’s taking control of the stationary bike as well as an application on your laptop.

No, I’m not one of those paranoid conspiracy theorists. But it does raise an interesting point of how easy our lives are hackable.

Cycflix is an ingenious idea and has potential to help those who need it. However, it’s something I doubt I’ll use myself. Between a long setup process each time and cluttering the living room with laptops and wires, I’d rather go outside and ride for a while then come home to watch my show.

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Michael Brockbank

Since 2015, Michael has put in the effort to lose more than 80 pounds by gamifying fitness and eating proper portion sizes. He conducts extensive research into various health and fitness products to provide the best answers possible according to his own experience and knowledge.

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