Could Netflix be your new fitness coach?

Nowadays, the word ‘Netflix’ is more commonly accompanied by the suffix ‘and Chill’. Sometimes a euphemism for casual sex, sometimes a bonafide allusion to binge watching Suits in your trackies, Netflix conjures up images of slovenliness unchecked, laziness unbounded. Until now. The on-demand media streaming site has launched a fitness-oriented DIY project, a personal trainer designed to harness the go-getting sentiments of your favourite characters in a bid to motivate your during bouts of exercise.

You can select your coach according to your personal taste and constitution. Tough cookie? Then perhaps the gravelly Russian snarls of Red from Orange is the New Black will give you the kick you need to turn your fitness regime up a notch. Of a more sensitive disposition? Then maybe a kindly reminder from Kimmy Schmidt to “take it ten seconds at a time” would be more up your alley.

If, like me, your exercise regime comprises a bi-monthly decision to take the stairs at work, then perhaps when you do sporadically deign to work out, the empathetic interjections of Bojack Horseman (“running is the worst”; “oh god *panting*, lungs on fire”) might be for you.

It’s called a DIY project for a reason, however. You don’t need to be an engineer, but users require a smidgen of coding knowledge and electronic ability to get the ball rolling. Netflix has simplified the process by distilling it into an easy-to-read step-by-step guide. Don’t let a bit of technological muscle flexing deter you though, particularly with a view to some actual muscle flexing. The Arduino-based device, once built, is simple enough to use, just insert your targets for a particular activity, and should you fall below said targets during your workout (monitored by an accelerometer), the device will administer a motivational quote from your selected character.

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In what can only be considered the 21st century’s answer to the age-old carrot dangling manoeuvre, the fitness pal (or is that fitness frenemy) will ensure Netflix plays when you’re moving, but will pause when it senses you stop. You just need to connect the device to your tablet or phone via Bluetooth and off you trot. Much like the exercise itself, the fitness pal rewards longevity; the former with rock hard abs (give or take) and the latter with an extra episode of Peep Show. Whoever said the two were mutually exclusive?

The Netflix Personal Trainer comes as part of the ‘Make It’ initiative, which offers a range of DIY projects for users to undertake. Projects include socks which automatically pause Netflix when you fall asleep, and a remotely operated Halloween doorbell that directs kids to candy supplies, freeing you up to, you guessed it, watch Netflix. In my day, watching TV was the eighth deadly sin; my parents waxed lyrical about the imminent peril of square eyes and the eminent superiority of books. But with Netflix on the scene, peddling projects that foster STEM-based skills like programming and electronic engineering, TV watching and the activities it inspires could turn out to be quite the asset. On-demand streaming giving rise to in-demand skills. So this is what the future looks like.

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