The fitness industry is continuing its shift towards a more holistic approach that includes focusing on not just a sound body but also a sharp, relaxed mind and spirituality.

Many industry associations, governing bodies and practitioners are including these themes into their certifications, education and programs. These deep and personal issues are changing how you provide programming for your members. The entire fitness industry — those who educate fitness professionals, hold conferences and develop programming — must respond to our culture's need for a more integrated approach to health and wellness. The first generation of this type of programming includes yoga, meditation, Pilates, sleep and relaxation.

Health care practitioners have long treated clients and patients using technology such as bio-feedback, Alpha Theta brain-wave training and other tools that incorporate music, sound and light. The perpetuation of more sophisticated technology available to the fitness industry means that we will now be able to incorporate many of these mind/body tools into areas of our clubs. Some of the technology already being used or tested includes individual relaxation and meditation rooms or stations, studios that use lighting and sound to create a relaxation response, video and content used in both fitness equipment and personal entertainment devices to guide members through a variety of integrative fitness protocols, and technology-driven brain exercise games and learning modules that stimulate brain activity and keep the brain healthy while slowing the aging process. Fitness professionals also are creating custom content — including verbal instruction and video — that is downloaded via the Internet to members' personal entertainment devices.

Technology often is at the root of many of the stressors people face today. People are constantly available by phone, e-mail and text messaging. Work follows people home, and personal entertainment technology can impact their lives negatively. As is often the case, though, the solution lies in the problem. Technology that disrupts harmony is the same technology that can provide simple and customizable solutions for creating better health.

As always, the type of technology that will work in your club depends on the demographics and psychographics of your members. Much like making capital expenditures on fitness equipment and studio build-outs, you must first understand your members' stressors and needs before determining how technology will help you move beyond your traditional delivery of fitness.

It is up to us as an industry to stay committed to improving more than just the physical fitness of our members and clients. We must touch our members by providing them with more than our regular programming; we must provide them with the correct tools that use technology.

Many of the fitness trends during the last two decades have been focused on issues such as weight loss, functional fitness and anti-aging, but new tools to keep track of members' progress, alter programs as members get stronger and provide entertainment to keep them from getting bored are attracting new members. These all have merit and should continue to be included in the mix of your programming. Don't miss the opportunity that technology provides to transcend your traditional fitness offerings.

Stressors outside of your club walls will continue to increase in every aspect of your members' lives. It is critical that we understand that the mental and spiritual connection is an important part of the equation to helping them become healthier.


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. Florez can be contacted at gregory@fitadvisor.com.