Technology-enabled fitness experiences are here to stay. This means fitness facilities face a more discriminating consumer whose experience expectations are being set by products and services outside of the fitness industry. It also means an opportunity for savvy facility operators to harness new tools and experiences to optimize and grow their business.
Precor’s Preva is the technology that Magnuson Athletic Club used in its member acquisition and retention efforts. Photo courtesy of Precor.
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The percentage of the population that is defined as “fit” continues to decline. At the same time, the use of technology is now mainstream and is changing the way we live. The iTunes app store has more than 13,000 health and fitness apps. Clearly, technology-enabled fitness experiences are here to stay. This means fitness facilities face a more discriminating consumer whose experience expectations are being set by products and services outside of the fitness industry, but who expect to extend these experiences into the fitness environment. It also means an opportunity for savvy facility operators to harness new tools and experiences to optimize and grow their business. The Magnuson Athletic Club (MAC) story is one example of a club doing this.
After opening two years ago, the Magnuson Athletic Club (MAC), Seattle, faced a challenge. The club had attracted 2,000 members, which was far less than the 3,400 it had estimated as its potential. To help reach its membership goal, MAC turned to technology. It incorporated a software platform that fully integrates with its cardio equipment console, allowing members to set fitness goals, track progress, earn achievement badges and save their favorite workouts via a cloud network. Exercisers can access this information from any piece of networked cardio fitness equipment.
According to MAC General Manager Preston Crouser, the system has proven to be a great investment.
“Every member has a hands-on tool to motivate them, keep them entertained and track their progress,” he says.
The staff has really bought into the technology and love to show it off to potential new members on a tour and share with current members, he adds.
Tools such as this help members with their fitness goals.
“Members engage with the technology,” Crouser says. “I have spoken to members who are in the club trying to sneak in an extra workout so they can reach the weekly goal they set for themselves by logging into their account. Members enjoy being able to set and track goals. It keeps them accountable and gives them the desire to run that extra mile or bike that extra five minutes. Members, young and old, have taken to the technology and make it a part of their daily routine in the club.”
Crouser says that in the short time that the MAC has used this technology, its capability to help retain members while keeping them engaged and interested in their workouts is clear.
“Technology can help club members see a progression in their workouts,” Crouser says. “That will help them to stay more committed to exercise and to our facility.”
But beyond retention help, one of the biggest uses of this technology is that it offers asset management, allowing staff to see which pieces of equipment have been used the most.
“We can see the data on what equipment is the most popular,” Crouser says. “This allows us to ‘rotate the tires,’ if you will. We can swap out a treadmill that gets high usage for another one that we know doesn’t have as many miles on it. This helps keep the equipment up and running for a longer life span.”
The verdict is still out on whether or not the technology will help the MAC reach its full membership potential, but Crouser says in the three months since introducing this option on its cardio equipment, the MAC’s membership has jumped by about 300 members, a 15 percent increase. But that membership number is not the most important number for Crouser. Results and retention are.
“More importantly, we are retaining members longer by helping them achieve their goals, and their success generates positive word of mouth,” Crouser says.
Brent Brooks is vice president of networked fitness at Precor, leading the largest new venture in the history of the company. Part of that venture was the introduction of a full line of network-ready commercial cardio equipment and the launch of a companion product called Preva, a cloud-based fitness platform. To learn more, watch the video: Preva.com/makeityours.