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by far the most sold activity monitor in the market, there are many other similar devices available, such as Nike Fuelband, Jawbone Up and Pebble.

More devices, more data

Measuring activity with an activity monitor such as Fitbit is only one of the many applications which are available to consumers. Other examples are connected body composition monitors such as the Withings scale. This body scale measures data such as body weight and fat percentage, which can be visualized online and in a mobile app for self-analysis. But also GPS driven running apps, such as Runkeeper, Endomondo and Runtastic are a great example of how new technology can help measure sports performance and progress. Mobile apps such as Nike Training Club and Virtuagym help consumers work out with instructions from a virtual trainer who shows the user how to perform a set of exercises over time and helps track repetitions and weight used. The Lumoback is a sensor worn around the waist, which measures the user’s posture during the day. When the user’s back is in a wrong position the connected mobile application gives the user feedback to improve his posture and thus helps prevent lower back problems.

All these sensors and apps beautifully demonstrate how new technology can help people get fitter, eat healthier and get better. However, since all the examples mentioned are consumer applications, does this mean health clubs will have to compete with companies like Nike and Apple in the health and fitness space?

Threat or Opportunity? It’s fair to say that most of the innovations within the health and fitness space have occurred outside the health club industry. It has been mostly Technology companies who developed interactive applications for instruction and tracking aimed directly at consumers. Fitness trackers and apps have now been widely accepted by consumers and the market is growing, but does this mean they are becoming a growing threat to health clubs and personal trainers? In order to answer this we should take a step back and question ourselves why our clients come to our gym in the first place. When you ask your clients in your business why they use your health club it is unlikely that the most common answer is that they just love to work out! Let’s face it, most people would rather do a million other things, such as watch TV than work out. Their motivation is likely to be extrinsic rather than intrinsic; for example weight loss, get in shape and improve health. So, if that’s really the reason why people join your gym, as a health club owner you could be in trouble. Because that is exactly what all these mobile apps and trackers promise for your customers. If it were only about losing weight, surely people would just run around the block every day or do some home exercise rather than spending time and money for your service.

Motivation Business

I strongly believe people primarily go to a health club for motivation. They are willing to pay for a gym membership because they realize they won’t be able to make it alone without the help of your facilities and service. Members are looking for you to actively motivate them to help them reach their goals. Because motivation leads to behavioural change and behavioural change is the key to reaching goals. It’s that simple and at the same time it’s the hardest challenge in our business.

While all these new apps and fitness trackers could be considered a threat, they can also help us as an industry to transform our product proposition for the better. Because new technologies can help increase member motivation in several ways. Let’s discuss a few examples.

Put the “Club” in health club

“We aren’t really health clubs; we’re not even clubs. We’re just places where people come to lift weights and run on a treadmill.” Research has shown that social interaction is a key metric

for retention: gyms where members socially interact have a higher retention rate. However, in the majority of health clubs working out has little or nothing to do with social interaction. As Michael Scott Scudder put it “Most of us aren’t really health clubs, we’re not even clubs. We’re just places where people come to lift weights and run on a treadmill.” This is firstly a challenge of vision and ambition, but technology can most definitely help support the efforts to increase member interaction.

Online community platforms, group challenge systems and Facebook-like group interaction can help build social connections among members and staff. It allows you to develop specific online peer groups like runners, seniors, obese people,

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