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Fitness Facility Technology Benefits and Challenges

FitTech

Fitness professionals cannot afford to ignore technology’s impact on client relationships. Activity trackers, apps and other fitness and health monitoring devices are growing more popular by the day. Indeed, the American College of Sports Medicine reports that wearable technology is the top fitness trend of 2016 (Thompson 2015).

Experts agree that consumers are adopting fitness technology faster than trainers, facilities and equipment manufacturers are. “Most clubs now have the idea that their members, clients and prospects are becoming more tech-savvy, regardless of demographics,” observes Tony Nicholson, MBA, director of virtual, wearable tech and wellness initiatives at Anytime Fitness® corporate headquarters in Hastings, Minnesota. “The challenge some clubs are facing is that they’re ‘late to the party’: They don’t have the resources or interest to adopt or adapt, or they simply don’t see the trend that’s directly in front of them.”

Experts agree that some fitness professionals fear that technology may replace their services, which makes these pros hesitant to accept new devices and software. But that does not change the fact that clients are rapidly adopting fitness technology. This obliges personal trainers, gym managers and studio owners to figure out how to integrate clients’ high-tech habits into their in-facility experiences.

Fitness facility managers can do a lot to embrace consumer tastes and enhance their locations’ technology ecosystems. Options include closed proprietary systems, mobile apps, networking and networked equipment—and combinations of these.

Technology options include mobile apps, networking, networked equip- ment, proprietary systems and combi- nations of tools, all of which can affect the members’ experience and enable data collection.

Benefits

  • provides branding, communication,
    management and community-build-
    ing tools
  • permits tech-friendly billing and
    scheduling
  • allows members to use their favorite
    apps and devices in the facility
  • fosters easy communication of facil-
    ity programs and promotions
  • enables data collection on equip-
    ment usage and member activity— to meet member needs more accu- rately and to customize training programs

  • encourages friendly competitions and challenges that build commu- nity

Challenges

  • Closed-circuit, proprietary solutions
    (which allow users to record their fitness data on specific equipment, and which prevent sharing with other devices and apps) can be costly and may not appeal to users who want to “own” their fitness experience.
  • Data is valuable to facility managers only if they analyze it and apply it to measurable objectives.
  • Data collection raises privacy and security issues, so facilities need to adopt policies regarding how data will be protected.
  • Technology is a tool. Facilities need to decide what tools best promote their own brand and create the best member experience.

To read more about how clients’ growing affection for apps and devices leaves fitness facilities little choice but to embrace fitness technology, please see “Technology Is Infiltrating the Fitness Facility Ecosystem” in the online IDEA Library or in the March 2016 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.



References

Thompson, W.R. 2015. Worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2016: 10th anniversary edition.

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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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