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3 Tangible Ways Cloud Computing Can Benefit Your Health Club

You don't need to be an aerospace engineer to appreciate air travel—and you don't need to be an IT expert to grasp the possibilities of the cloud at your health club. Here are three examples of how cloud technology can boost your bottom line.

1. It makes basic functions like renewals, class signups, and member purchases more efficient and cost-effective.

With the cloud, you don't pay for a lot of expensive servers and other equipment. You pay for a secure, offsite service—one that your club members can access using mobile devices. That means, among other things, they can use prepaid accounts to make purchases right on their smartphones. 

Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers (GHFC), which operates three health clubs in Florida, recently switched to the cloud for a number of services, including its smoothie bar and in-house retail sales. The result?

"We've noticed that our costs have come down," said Mike Kline, GHFC's CFO and CIO. "Our credit card fees are a lot less than when we had to run cards through machines manually. We're also able to track things much better." 

2. It will hook your club up to the growing fitness tracker movement.

Many of your members are already using personal fitness trackers synced to their smartphones to set workout goals and monitor their progress. With the cloud, your club can take that connectivity a step further by linking your members' personal trackers to your club's equipment.

"When customers can share the data from their workouts with their club—whether they're running on one of its treadmills or riding a bike at home—it enhances the club's ability to deliver targeted services," said Jeff Bartee, Precor’s principal product manager for network fitness. "Trainers can create more personalized workout plans, and clubs can tailor their program offerings to what members really want."

3. It gives you a virtual staff. 

Wouldn't it be great if you could assign a dedicated trainer to each customer? Obviously that's not possible. But you can supplement your staff with cloud-based services such as Wexer Virtual, which offers club-ready workout videos on an interactive touch screen mounted right on the wall. 

"Cloud-based services and other advancements in technology allow us to provide high-quality service across the globe—both to clubs and their members," said Rasmus Ingerslev, Wexer Virtual's founder and executive vice chairman, and IHRSA Board chair. 

Really, the cloud is just a high-tech way of providing old-fashioned customer service.  

"Customers want the best experience," said Bryan O'Rourke, president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council, "and, in the end, the clubs that are going to be the most successful are the ones that integrate thoughtful digital strategies with the brick and mortar. The cloud and mobile are two things that club operators really have to wrap their heads around."

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