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“motivated members who get results stay longer, spend more money and bring in their friends. So it’s time to bring in the technology!”

etc. where they can communicate with each other by sharing information and events via the on-line channel. Through these social groups it’s then possible to tap into the social networks of your clients, using their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for marketing your business.

Whether they realize it or not, many of the best performing gyms in the industry are leading because they have succeeded in building this social community among their members. It’s requires a different approach to running your business, but technology can definitely make it easier to transform into a social gym.

Gamification: make exercise more fun

As mentioned before, one of our challenges as an industry is that our clients don’t really like to work out. Only a small percentage of your clients come to your gym because working out is what they love to do. Technological innovation can help make exercise more fun by rewarding activity with points and virtual badges, organize challenges for members to compete or collaborate in or even change the way we exercise by integrating computer game technology into exercise, also called exergaming. A great example of this is the German company Playoke, which use the 3D camera technology from Miscrosoft’s Kinect. There are multiple fitness games using said technology available for the X-Box game console, which allow consumers to work out at home with a virtual trainer. Playoke used the exact same technology to track activity in group fitness classes and reward performance based on the data measured. A perfect example of how potential threatening innovations for our industry could at the same time be used to improve health club services as well.

Self-Management: automated coaching

While personal training without question is the most effective way to boost member motivation and results, sadly not everyone can afford this type of one-on-one coaching. Again, this is where technology can fill in the gap between just wandering around the machines and a personal coach telling a client exactly what to do. A great example of automated coaching is the virtual spinning classes as offered by companies such as Wexer Virtual. While these virtual trainers are in no way meant to fully replace their human counterparts, it offers health clubs the opportunity to offer an engaging solution for offering group fitness classes during low-visit hours, when it would be too expensive to offer classes led by real instructors.

34 I body LIFE 2 I 2015

Additionally, mobile apps can provide tailored training plans, give clear exercise instructions, track exercise progress over time and even give nutrition coaching. By providing these types of services to your members, you can prevent early client dropout, caused by the fact that a member doesn’t really know what to do when in the gym. Taking away these thresholds by making things easier for your members and supporting important aspects such as healthy nutrition, will have effect on retention, because you’re helping your clients to stay motivated and get results. You can also combine the self-management technology with periodical personal coaching. This is an extremely powerful and affordable way of personal coaching, which combines the all the benefits of new technological innovations and personal attention. The financial potential is significant, because everyone can afford it (contrary to personal training). And on top of the additional revenue per member, you can imagine that someone who has a personal coach who checks up on them every month doesn’t leave because they get the results you promised. Fact is that motivated members who get results stay longer, spend more money and bring in their friends. So time to bring in the technology!

Hugo Braam, Director, Virtuagym. Hugo is a Technology Evangelist in the health club industry and co-founder of, a leading provider of technology solutions for gyms and trainers.

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