Implementing a heart rate training program at a health club can be a key strategy to create loyalty and improve member retention rates, but only if you first change the culture of your health club, George Centeio, manager of training and education, Polar Electro Inc., said in a free Club Industry webinar on Tuesday. 

"In the last few years, there has been an explosion, and there are all types of devices and things out there for tracking and monitoring, which is great," Centeio told the webinar audience. "It's the world we live in, and people are accustomed to having data and information always."

The webinar, "Create Customer Loyalty and Grow Your Business with Heart Rate Training," will be available for free on-demand viewing in the coming days.

Centeio cautioned that the power of heart rate monitoring comes not in the technology itself, but in a club's application to make it purposeful, fun and results driven for members.

"If you have it as just a new, fun gadget – a cool new technology if you will – you're probably not going to get the desired benefit that you want, and you certainly are not going to get that customer loyalty," Centeio said.

Instead, the whole club culture must change by integrating heart rate training products within club settings to provide immediate workout feedback, coaching, scheduling and gamification in various programming. Staff must buy-in to the technology, too, by wearing the monitors and using software, discussing the technology with members and relating the experience within a session to other programming within the club, Centeio said.

"Then you've basically started to transform things and create an environment which is much more engaging for your members," Centeio said. "And often times, the more engaged they are, the more loyal they will be and the more inclined they will be to come back."

Heart rate training in a club setting provides benefits such as immediate feedback to the client and trainer, an objective assessment of effort, motivation, accountability and safety from overheating, Centeio said. He explained the science in heart rate monitoring has the ability to create value for members with a higher quality training experience.