Over the past decade, wearable fitness technology has become an increasing companion in many of our lives, from our humble pedometers to heart rate monitors, to all-in-one trackers that are incumbent to observing our health and fitness.
Tech giants such as Apple and Samsung have churned out generations of era-defining gadgets. Moving through the years, we’ve seen companies such as Nike developing their own versions of sports watches, bands and now even using technology to find the perfect shoes, all dedicated to tracking and enhancing your fitness.
We also have the evolution of the exercise bike in the from of Peloton, which re-creates the spin class all from the comfort of your home. It’s important to note that Peloton shares have increased by 9.2%, with app downloads up five times from February to March 2020.
It is undeniable that there is, and will continue to be, a unique opportunity to capitalise on the usage of technology advancements, but more specifically that of wearable fitness technology. There are many reasons why – the most obvious reason is the most recent.
The Coronavirus pandemic has created a cultural shift in which individuals have become a lot more concerned and aware about their overall wellbeing. People want to know their health and fitness data, to visualise it, and to be able to impact it.
There is also an underlying desire for more exercise at home to counteract with the inability to go to health and fitness spaces, and move around more freely, but still have access to performance data and analytics. Like many things in life, we often want what escapes us the most.
Another reason is a more pronounced desire to stay connected, whether that be on social media, via virtual meetings and hangouts, or in an app full of challenges and leaderboards. Being part of a fitness or health community is no longer limited to a physical place. We can now connect and build communities, focused around shared goals, on a global scale thanks to digital technology.
In 2020, it was projected that the Global Digital Fitness Market size was due to grow to the value of $27.4 billion, which has been proven especially by ventures such as Peloton, Mirror and Strava’s global success. This market finds itself in a unique and better situation now than traditional bricks and mortar businesses that consumers normally rely on. These digital platforms are already equipped to offer remote services and on-demand home workouts, and provide the data and analytics to their members, something which is currently in demand.
Though we wonder; how can those trusted and dedicated brick and mortar business, whose passion is delivering health and fitness solutions to their members, tap into digital trends and wearable fitness technology?
So, we’ve pulled together our internal knowledge and sources to share advice on the pathways into wearable tech and the multiple benefits that it can reap. The question is how can you realistically and practically utilise this to your advantage?
Define the purpose
First and foremost, you need a defined purpose for incorporating wearable tech within your business. Start by asking some fundamental questions:
- What problem am I meeting for my customers?
- What is my budget, time and resource capacity to deliver this?
- How will it be utilised and maintained?
- Will it be for simple monitoring of workout progress?
- Will it be to help diversify the service provision and offering?
e.g offering combined nutritional and workout advice based user calorie intake
- Will it be a way to incite engagement? e.g healthy group competition during a virtual workout class
- Will it bring any additional benefits? e.g brand loyalty and community-building
What is important is that your business case needs to fix a problem that needs solving, or in some way makes your members progression flow more seamless. How can this improve member experience? How can this improve your business operations? How can it inspire membership loyalty with you and your brand?
You get the picture – you need to ask a lot of questions and interrogate the opportunity through your own business lens.
Solve your MVP
A good place to start is to build out a clean and useable Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in order to get to know your client base and understand their needs and wants from the service you provide.
How can you then adapt to reach those desires? Whilst these can differ depending on functionality, the main objective is for you to know how your clients behave and how they interact with the software. It will also be valuable when identifying various pain point that need to be addressed.
It’s wise to start with an Alpha test group; perhaps some of your loyal clients or biggest advocates. Make sure you support them from the moment you’re onboarding them onto the software, or demonstrating the wearable technology and its capabilities.
Ensure you have frequent touch points and gather relevant feedback to help steer future iterations.
Choose the right platform
Since there is such a high influx of wearable tech on the market, choosing the right platform is essential for your success. You want to steer away from hardware that can be prone to bugs, runs out of battery within a few hours, or doesn’t integrate with other technology.
What you need is a platform that is built to last, has stability, and doesn’t operate in its own silo.
The platform that you choose has to link with the desired intention of its use. So pick a platform that can connect to the clients phones where they can keep track of their progress, or one that is potentially cloud-based. Having the ability to connect to an app is a great way to ensure connection between business and client.
One opportunity that has still failed to materialise in a meaningful way is cellular-enabled wearables; devices that have built-in cellular connectivity and can be used without being linked to a smartphone. These premium devices have failed to take off even though they are an attractive product for manufacturers, as well as mobile operators keen to get more gadgets connected to their networks.
Expertly map and manage your data
Let’s talk about data again, as it’s something that needs to be managed correctly.
You need to know and understand how to collect the data you require from your clients, so a strong plan is needed upon initial approach.
It’s also important to consider the responsibility that comes with data collection. Clients will have a lot of concerns over how their data is managed. Following data best practices and industry regulations ensures transparency between the two parties. You should be explicit in your intentions to the client, and clear on what you will track when they are using the wearable tech.
The positives surrounding data collection is the ability for you to develop tailored plans for individual clients with a deep analysis in order to assist on their personal fitness journey. This data would be able to provide a complete overview of a person’s health and be able to pinpoint areas to work on.
This could also evolve into the development of nutritional advice, ways to achieve better sleep habits, or even insight into mental health objectives. The use of wearable fitness technology can bridge the gap between just exercise and take into account the individuals progress and wellbeing.
Compliment your current offer
With the content and services that you already offer as a business i.e exercise classes, or personal trainer sessions, there is a unique opportunity to provide this within an app form. This can supplement the physical losses of not attending a gym in person. Combined with wearable fitness technology solutions, this new hybrid form of exercise adds flexibility to your members routine yet still allows them to track progress and health metrics wherever they chose to work out.
Despite your doors being closed, it’s essential to find new ways to reach your audience and keep them motivated and involved. Investing in more digital solutions allows you to connect with your members at a greater level, opening up opportunities for a more detailed and personalised service.
Build data around your member’s needs
Staying connected with members and retaining them is a vital part of success in the fitness industry. By utilising the power that data has, gyms and fitness brands can create specialised fitness programs and have customers coming back again and again. Consumers truly value unique member experiences, and data can play a considerable role in nailing that experience from start to finish.
Orangetheory Fitness is taking this premise mainstream by offering members heart rate monitors. Instructors can then monitor intensity and give tailored advice during classes. Members can download an app to see their performance stats and set goals. It’s this combination of data and personal coaching that makes it a step up from traditional group exercise classes.
By gathering data, you can make decisions based on each client’s individual baseline, stress loads, and functional states. You can design higher-quality classes that allow for personalisation even when multiple clients are counting on you for a good workout.
There is also a recent collaboration between Life Fitness and MyZone. Myzone is a heart rate device in which users can now effortlessly track workout metrics in real time on premium Life Fitness and Cybex cardio equipment.
“The ability to track individual workout metrics in real time is an important part of many exercisers’ fitness journeys. By partnering with Myzone, we are proud to further enhance our connected fitness offerings with more ways to deliver personalised and seamless fitness experiences to exercisers. As we continue to build our digital ecosystem, we are focused on expanding our open API network by investing in meaningful digital partnerships to drive exerciser excitement and engagement in their fitness pursuits.”
Dan Wille, Global Vice President of Marketing and Product Development, Life Fitness.
Content To Fuel Your Platform
Home workouts have improved exponentially throughout the years’. They were still a thing pre-pandemic, but technology has elevated it. With on- demand classes, and a wealth of instructors heading to YouTube and Instagram; these workouts will no doubt become part of daily life for a long time coming.
Content can be shared through weekly Facebook videos, or a members-only library filled with workouts. You have the freedom to decide on the online content you produce, depending on the time and resources available to you. But, the thing to remember is that there is an opportunity to get creative and establish a better connection with your customers.
It may take time and effort to set up online classes, or to record live sessions, though in the most part it will be something that you can benefit from, even post-Covid. The beauty of home workouts is that they offer flexibility and convenience. The word ‘flexibility’ is attractive to many people nowadays, as life continues to speed up, the idea of working out needs to easily mould to the consumers daily commitments, not the other way around.
If you offer on-demand fitness, you can then allow people to overcome the barrier that has prevented them from signing up to the gym before. Cost and time are one the factors that affect a persons decision to join a gym and making that commitment. By using technology, fitness clubs and gyms can reach new audiences, and ultimately get new members through their doors.
This content can fuel engagement with your apps and wearables, creating a fun and motivational ecosystem that ultimately allows you to better support the health and fitness goals of your members.
Wearable Fitness Technology and Data Summary
Wearable fitness technology may be financially out of reach for many SMEs, but don’t be surprised when wearable tech and data trickles down from the big players. You need to be ready for it, and prepared to go all in.
Data is key, and even if it’s understanding where your data sits, how it is processed and stored, how it can add value or guide business decisions – that’s a start! You’ll be in a much better place to leverage data for the long game.
Our money is on health clubs, gyms and fitness spaces becoming just as much technology and data specialist as fitness and health professionals.
There are many ways in which to utilise this trend for maximum benefit for both parties; members and businesses, but as the world continues to open up, we need to be ready to be elevated, and ahead of the game in order to retrieve what has been lost.
Let us know how our team can help you with your technical innovations by dropping us a message.
Read more about our Topodium Innovation services.
The article was written by Georgie Chantrell-Plant, Content Producer for Topodium Group.