Every member that exercises in your club has at least one goal. Industry statistics show that weight loss and weight management continue among the top goals, and a variety of methods help measure and track progress in these areas, including heart rate training and body fat tools. One measure that has a sound history of success is measuring an individual's resting metabolic rate.

A compelling trend in the health club industry is the emergence of portable resting metabolic rate (RMR) devices that quickly and accurately measure RMR and create programming around that information. We have tested Healthetech's product, Body Gem, which is being used by some of the largest and most well-known health clubs and chains in the country. The product uses a portable device that measures a person's “metabolic fingerprint.” The company claims that this fingerprint accurately determines the unique number of calories an individual burns each day without exercise and accounts for up to 75 percent of their daily caloric needs. The process starts with a portable device that measures RMR followed with a personalized program plan around the unique needs determined by the test. Personal trainers and registered dieticians are using Body Gem as both a measuring and consultative tool and also a revenue generator. Additionally, Body Gem provides remote monitoring tools that can be used with clients and has the availability of software for clients or fitness professionals to measure and track user progress. The club owners we spoke to are seeing increased revenues by charging for this service.

To measure metabolism, the client breathes into the device for about five to 10 minutes while the BodyGem measures the amount of oxygen consumed by the individual. Since oxygen is only used to convert food stores (carbohydrates, proteins and fat) into energy, one can obtain an accurate measurement of the total number of calories the body needs just to maintain RMR. Metabolism can vary substantially among individuals, even among those of the same height, weight, age and gender. In order to lose, gain or maintain weight, you must know how many calories your body is burning — energy in vs. energy out. To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn. Once a unique RMR has been measured, it can be entered into the BalanceLog software to establish a personalized program or calorie budget (much like a checkbook or bank account with deposits and withdrawals). BalanceLog is then used to log all calories from food and exercise and compare against the daily calorie budget. The charts and graphs in the BalanceLog software provide instant feedback and information to help shape a complete program. With the reports in BalanceLog and the feedback from a fitness professional via BalanceLog Pro, the individual can begin to modify their behavior by observing successful components of the program or areas requiring a change in their approach.

The BodyGem offers some software options that help change, monitor and show progression. The BalanceLog personalized health and nutrition software allows an individual to log food and exercise online anywhere, anytime via the Web. This software comes pre-loaded with more than 4,000 foods and 300 exercises in a database searchable by category — even generic and brand name foods. The BalanceLog Pro is a Web-based application that enables fitness professionals and dieticians to monitor individual progress on an ongoing basis. By routinely reviewing an individual's food, nutrition and exercise data, a fitness professional can provide instant feedback whether the client is at home, in the office or even traveling.

For club owners this product provides several opportunities. It offers a testing measurement that has proven valuable and effective for a number of years but has not been portable or cost effective. It offers ongoing support that can either be monitored by a fitness professional or an individual, and an opportunity for trainers to “touch” their customers in a deeper and more meaningful way remotely. Remote training services are becoming more necessary with time-starved members, and the Healthetech software is flexible and customizable allowing trainers to create and change individual programs. In addition, the product provides a clear and tangible revenue source.

For more information go to www.healthetech.com or call 303-526-5085. Additional companies that provide RMR testing products include Korr Medical (www.korr.com) and New Leaf Medical (www.newleaffitness.com).

Gregory Florez is CEO of FitAdvisor Health Coaching Services and First Fitness Inc., which was rated as the No. 1 health coaching online training service by The Wall Street Journal. Gregory can be contacted at gregory@fitadvisor.com.