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A New 'Active Recliner' Promises to Make You Fit While You Sit

The newly designed tech from Bielefeld University in Germany is designed to help couch potatoes burn a few extra calories.
This isn't THE recliner. But it might be. Eventually.

Rejoice, couch potatoes, for your golden chariot awaits.

That’s right: Your old man's leather recliner is being transformed into a fitness tool. The exerimental new "active chair," developed by researchers at the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) of Germany's Bielefeld University, wants to help you burn off that belly flab and work on that muscle tone in the middle of your Sunday afternoon football-watching marathon. (You can get a better look at the chair here.)

Welcome to the world of elite lounging.

But hang on: How in the hell can that upholstered beast in the living room, which grandpa hasn’t gotten up from since 1986, be related to fitness in any way? (And isn't sitting the new smoking, anyway?)

Here's how: Thanks to a suite of built-in programs, body sensors, and even digital avatars, the chair can help people perform at-home workouts—without even standing up. The chair is a personal trainer, exercise aid, and virtual workout partner. You can even do yoga and callisthenic reps in between channel-changes and potato chip chomps. And just in case your sofa aerobics get a little too intense, the chair's built-in heart rate monitors could help you from overdoing your workout while the auto-adjust feature would help fix your posture.

Developed as part of the university's KogniHome research project, the active chair is also paired with a virtual personal trainer—called a digital avatar—that syncs with your body to guide you through your at-home workouts. It has sensors too, and will be sure to alert you if you get too comfortable.

“The personal trainer can also assist the user in performing fitness exercises both correctly and in a way that is gentle on the joints," said Professor Dr. Thomas Schack, who heads up KogniHome's research project, in a press release. "The trainer’s program includes various yoga and fitness exercises, as well as instruction in strength building."

The only caveat: The chair is still in development—so you'll have to wait to tear down the doors at Best Buy, haul this beast back home, and log an intense workout of SportsCenter and chair yoga.

And to be fair, the target audience for this chair probably isn't able-bodied, fit guys. Rather, it's designed for people who otherwise don't have a chance to rip through an interval workout at the local gym: sedentary older folks, people recovering from injury, or otherwise couch-bound types looking to trim to a healthy weight.

So yeah: The "workout couch" might seem a little silly. But at the very least, it's part of a significant technological revolution that could soon help the least fit among us shave off a few pounds.

Who knows? You could be closer to couch crunches and La-Z-Boy lunges than you think.

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