As more and more people are wearing fitness trackers and smart watches and using apps to track their nutrition and workouts, there are opportunities for your business to tap in to this phenomenon and use technology to drive revenue and retention.
It could be easy to dismiss wearables as a fad, but they aren’t going away any time soon, and in fact they’ll probably only be improved on as technology advances, able to monitor more and more physical signs for their users.
Likewise, the rise of people taking charge of their own fitness with trackers and apps doesn’t have to spell doom and gloom for the fitness industry. A Victoria University sports scientist, Professor David Bishop, told the ABC (link: http://www.abc.net.au/health/features/stories/2015/02/10/4177316.htm) that it is naïve to think monitoring numbers will lead to a long-term motivation and change in behaviour.
He said that we know from studying human behaviour that it’s incredibly hard to change a person’s motivation.
This presents a challenge for wearable devices if they are going to make any meaningful difference to the health of individuals and the overall population. Data from the United States has found that more than half of adults who have a wearable device stop using it, with a third abandoned within the first six months.
There are no Australian statistics. But Bishop believes that it is likely to be the same in Australia. He made the comparison to people who sign up for gym memberships and cancel after a few months because they haven’t used it as they had planned.
Opportunities for your business
Whether your members are using wearables and apps or not, or have tried them and ditched them in the past, there are opportunities for the fitness industry here to both embrace wearable tech and to set itself apart from it in what it can offer to people looking to improve their health and fitness.
In a video for Matrix, Ted Vickey, the founder and president of fitness consulting company FitWell, discusses what wearables can mean for the industry.
His company specialises in digital wellness technologies, innovation strategies, leadership coaching and operations techniques. He is a former executive director of the White House Athletic Centre and worked under several presidents for 11 years. He’s now a senior consultant on fitness technology to the American Council on Exercise and advises non-profits on the ways technology can enhance health and wellness programming.
In the video he talks about how technology has disrupted other industries, such as the music industry, and how smart phones have replaced owning other items of technology, for example alarm clocks. However technology doesn’t have to disrupt the fitness industry. While there are plenty of apps on the market that make all sorts of health and fitness promises, they aren’t necessarily any good. They just have a good marketing department.
In fact, just about anybody can make and sell an app.
Human face-to-face contact and personalised service offered by personal trainers and gym staff is always going to be able to reach and inspire people to achieve their goals more than a wearable device or an app can. Working in conjunction with the tech, instead of against it, is key. According to Ted, 73% of users of health apps say they are healthier because of the app.
They might not actually be healthier, but if they think they are, that’s half the battle.
He says around 60% of gym owners have their smart phones with them while they are working out. This presents opportunities for gym owners to engage directly with their members – you can offer them promotions and other incentives directly to their phones and interact and engage with them on that level.
The sky really is the limit here in terms of how you get creative.