Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Twitter and Triceps Working out with the Stars in the Olympic Gym

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Twitter and Triceps Working out with the Stars in the Olympic Gym

Article excerpt

Byline: Susannah Butter

IN THE middle of the Olympic Village there is a light-filled building where athletes are spending a great deal of time: the gym. Inside, it is weirdly calm and silent. Everyone is too intensely focused on their own workouts to check out the toned, almost superhuman specimens on neighbouring machines.

When I arrive, the entire Russian gymnastics team are practising their footwork in the stretching area and some strapping Finns are sprinting on the slick running machines, which are linked to the internet. The weights on all the machines are set to the heaviest they can be.

"Many athletes have never seen equipment like this before. London 2012 is the most connected games ever," says Tony Majakas, project T director at Technogym, which T supplied and installed the equipment in all 20 gyms across the Olympic sites. "Running machines are equipped with Visioweb, which allows athletes to go on Twitter and Facebook while training, read news websites from home or watch competitors."

Of course, Twitter has been at the centre of this year's Games. Silver heroine Lizzie Armitstead saw her Twitter followers leap from 15,385 to 45,102, and Rebecca Adlington's have gone into six figures. g Now they can delight their followers and tweet from the running machine should they want to share pictures and gossip, as Usain Bolt has been doing.

A Brazilian athlete tells me that being able to check in with the news at home while training makes her feel happier. The machines also have technology which allows them to track training plans: so swimmer Michael Phelps can log into the same programme he has been using at home in Baltimore.

The gym was, literally, designed by committee. All sports committees submitted a wishlist of what they'd like the gym to have, and space to walk around and stretch was the most popular request, says Majakas. …

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