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What to Look for in Fitness Technology

Smartphones, wearable technology, mobile fitness apps and fitness websites have the potential to revolutionize the work of personal trainers—freeing up more one-on-one time with clients, providing more accurate data on their achievements and giving us powerful tools to better manage our fitness businesses. Further, fitness tech can help us motivate clients to increase their daily physical activity and, in our own small way, help confront the global obesity epidemic and fight the spiraling cost of health care.

Key Benefits of Fitness Technology

Research into health and fitness interventions using technology suggests several key benefits:

  • reduced delivery costs
  • convenience to users
  • timeliness
  • reduction of stigma
  • increased user and trainer control of the intervention
  • reduction of geographic barriers
  • reduction of time-based isolation barriers
  • reduction of mobility-based isolation barriers (Griffiths et al. 2006)

Factors to Look For

When suggesting fitness technology to your clients, consider these three factors:

Ease Of Use

If the device isn’t easy to use right out of the box, then you have a problem. Your client shouldn’t need a PhD in engineering to use it. Some devices are great concepts but lack real-world, easy-to-use features. Your clients have enough excuses not to be physically active. Don’t let substandard technology give them another one.

Try a few yourself, kick the tires, and get an understanding of the features before suggesting them to your clients. The more you know, the better you can train your clients.

Battery Life

Smartphone apps in particular need to take battery life into account. If your clients keep an app running all day, they’ll also need to recharge their phones a few times during the day. It’s helpful to determine which of the two most common ways fitness devices are used:

  • Tracking. Devices like the Jawbone Up,
    Nike FuelBand and Fitbit are designed to be worn all day, measuring daily activ-
    ity and workouts throughout the week. Many will run for several days on a single charge. Typically, though, they also sync with a smartphone, so they may rely on the phone’s battery life as well, depending on how they are used.
  • Workout measurement. Many mobile fitness smartphone apps are designed to track activity only during a workout, (e.g., RunKeeper during a run or Endomondo during a bike ride). These apps can drain a smartphone battery fairly quickly.

Purpose Of Measurement

If you want to measure everything your client does during the day, focus more on fitness devices rather than mobile fitness apps. Fitness devices allow for a just-in-time, persuasive nudge to your clients, showing how little things throughout the day can make a big difference—like taking the stairs rather than the elevator, getting off the couch and taking
a walk around the block a few times, or parking farther away at the mall.

To read the full article which was published in the July-August 2014 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal click here.


Griffiths, F., et al. 2006. Why are health care interventions delivered over the internet? A systematic review of the published literature. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 8 (2), e10.


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