Health clubs are in a better position than ever before to celebrate the possibilities of wearable technology.
Wearable technology is becoming an increasingly integral part of gym culture. (Photo courtesy of Polar Club.)
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In a world where the average smartphone user checks his or her phone up to 110 times a day, it is no wonder that more and more club owners are harnessing the power of technology by implementing wearables into their clubs. Consumers are results-oriented, and their technological demands are seeping into every corner of their lives. From same-day delivery services to apps that eliminate the wait for a cab, make reservations at a favorite restaurant and make finding a date easier, consumers are more impatient than ever. Although some retailers may find it difficult to pacify these habits, health clubs are in a position to celebrate the possibilities.
Shawn Potocki, owner of UFIT Personal Training in Hamilton, New Jersey, knows the potential for wearable technology is endless, and he jumps at the opportunity to use wearables at his studio.
"Anytime my clients are able to physically see how their workouts are progressing via the use of wearable technology, then it helps them mentally to push themselves harder to improve," he said.
With successes such as improved membership retention, engagement and motivated members, many club owners who use technology at their gyms, have discovered that wearable technology is much more than a trend; it is here to stay.
More Active and Engaging Fitness
The fitness industry is evolving and responding to new perceptions of exercise. Accountability to the workout, trainer and to one's self are becoming motivators through the use of the immediate performance summaries from wearable technology. With the numbers accessible during each workout as constant reminders, gym-goers are taking hold of their fitness goals. The constant reminders from wearable technology is helping them find ways to include more exercise in their lives. Whether they are tracking steps outside of the gym, or monitoring calories burned and heart rate during a HITT workout in a group-fitness class, members are relentlessly looking to monitor their efforts and achieve their goals.
At UFIT, accountability is everything.
"My clients definitely feel more accountable when wearing a heart rate monitor or other form of wearable technology," Potocki said. "This is especially true when they are doing workouts on their own. The technology helps them keep track of their progress."
Gyms that implement wearable technology are giving their members a reason to feel responsible for not only their workout but also their gym membership. Because the classes they enjoy utilize the technology or their trainers monitor their progress with the technology, they feel more involved in their membership. This positive participation is excellent for client retention and increased membership.
Accountability Is Key
Chuck Morris, director of sports performance and education at Team 85 in Bordentown, New Jersey, agrees with the idea that technology keeps clients more engaged and interested in their workouts.
"Wearable technology separates what a person thinks they did from what they actually did," he said. "Without technology, the numbers are like a vapor – hard to touch. Wearables make those numbers tangible and make the goal a person is trying to accomplish much more realistic." With wearables, members can see what they have done and that today was better or worse than yesterday, he said.
Nick Orlando, assistant manager at Gold's Gym, East Northport, New York, said that he has noticed that members feel more accountable using wearables.
"This is a big benefit to helping them obtain their goals and to keeping them as members of the gym," he said. "The visuals our members see on a heart rate monitor or other wearable device throughout their workout, trigger an emotional response. I feel this is the encouragement that tells them they did a good job or makes them realize they could have worked out harder. This is especially true for us because during our HIIT workouts we project each member's active heart rate and calories on a large screen, and that gives them and the trainer a clear view of how hard they are working."
Social Media and Wearable Technology
The average person is involved in social media in one way or another. In many ways, checking posts, status updates and new information is extremely addictive. Fitness clubs have quickly discovered that combining the energy around social media with wearable technology benefits not only the club, but the members, too.
"If you think about it, all the activities we enjoy involve other people," Morris said. "Wearables and fitness apps are just like every other activity in that they make things more fun and allow for an overall sense of community."
By coupling social media with wearable technology, members can compete with themselves as well as with each other. Seeing another member's information on the screen at the gym or posted to social media is inspiring and encourages members to try harder with each workout. The result is that members build a community within the gym, and they are less likely to leave a gym where they have friends.
In many ways, the mingling of the two becomes a game for members.
"Having members use wearable technology builds a community within the gym of friends who try to beat one another during workouts," Orlando said. "During any given activity, they try to see who can burn the most calories or who can get their heart rate up the fastest. This promotes a fun and positive workout environment, which keeps the members engaged, pushing harder during workouts, continuous members of the gym, and also makes other members who might not be used to heart rate monitors or other wearable technology want to purchase one and join in on the action."
Potocki is active on social media and likes to implement wearable technology in creative ways using Facebook groups to encourage and motivate his members. His studio has a season specific challenge called the UFIT Personal Training Summer Challenge in which each participant gets points for various activities such as training sessions, keeping a food log and doing workouts on their own. To get points for outside workouts on their own, they must take a picture with their phone of their wearable device and send it to Potocki. He also created a group on Facebook for the challenge, and members share their workouts with everyone in that group.
"This again helps them keep track of their workouts and progress, holds them accountable/lets me know that they are continuing their program, and motivates my other clients to strive to do better," Potocki said.
The Affordability of Applying Wearable Technology
Health clubs that use technology in their group exercise classes and training sessions are proving that wearable technology is no longer for the exercising elite. Chest straps and wristbands are practical for anyone ready to take charge of their health by tracking their workouts with the unique satisfaction of seeing the numeric results immediately in front of them. Because wearable technology is more prevalent than ever before, it is becoming more affordable and, therefore, more accessible to fitness buffs and weekend warriors alike.
Morris said that the benefits of wearable technology supersede their costs.
"Wearables give gym members a better opportunity to be in the best shape of their lives," he said. "When you consider it in those terms, they are extremely affordable. Priceless, in fact. Valuing the data is key to determining your success on the fitness journey."
Whether a gym has 5,000 members or 500, club owners are ascertaining that the benefits of using wearable technology are substantial. From keeping their clients accountable for their fitness goals to making their workouts more fun, wearable technology is at the forefront of enriching and enhancing the lives of gym members.
Polar Club offers a unique fitness solution for club owners, instructors, personal trainers and, above all, club members. It brings together the benefits of heart rate training and individual guidance, along with the motivation and energy you get from group exercise. For more information regarding Polar Club and how it can benefit your club, please contact Stephen Kopshaw at (516) 532-3135 or Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org.