Are trainers doing enough to help their clients maximize the benefit of wearable technology?

A new study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests that trainers have room for improvement, and better education is needed for trainers to ensure clients are making the most of their investments in wearable technology.

“Wearable activity devices can monitor everything from steps taken and heart rate to calorie expenditure and sleep quality. However, it’s the trainer’s job to translate all of these data into a tangible action plan to drive sustainable lifestyle change,” ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant said in a statement.

ACE partnered with Inov8 Health for the 22-question online survey, which was distributed to ACE's network of 58,000 certified health and fitness professionals. Survey results showed the majority of professionals are fielding questions from clients about wearable activity devices, but those professionals do not always feel qualified or educated enough to answer those inquiries.

“Health and fitness professionals can provide value to their clients when they are not in the gym by using the data to inspire and motivate them to stay active even when they are traveling or unable to have a training session,” Inov8 Health CEO Tom Futch said in a statement.

Highlights from the survey:

  • 72 percent reported that their clients consistently ask for insight and feedback on such devices, most commonly related to making the purchase, device accuracy and if they’ll help them achieve their goals, but only 51 percent of professionals felt prepared to answer those questions.
  • 75 percent of those who completed the survey said they would be interested in the capability to run fitness challenges with clients using wearable activity devices.
  • 71 percent of respondents own a wearable activity device, and 61 percent of those who do not yet own one are considering purchasing one.
  • 71 percent said they would be interested in allowing clients to purchase devices, either directly from them or by using a promotional code. That number increased slightly to 74 percent when the possibility of the trainer earning revenue from the sale was introduced.

Several signs point to significant growth in the fitness wearable technology device market. Fitbit had record second quarter revenue of $400.4 million. Fitbit holds the largest share in the wearable device market, according to a recent report from the International Data Corp., which showed fitness wearable vendors shipped 18.1 million devices in the second quarter compared to 5.6 million in the second quarter of 2014.

The fitness wearable space is so competitive that Garmin CEO Cliff Pemble has said there is a need for "more aggressive pricing" on Garmin's devices in the consumer market.