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Entries in FIT-C (13)


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.

Continue reading "3 Tangible Ways Cloud Computing Can Benefit Your Health Club."

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CrossFit Crosses Over: From Competition to a Health Club Offering

CrossFit has become not only a fitness industry power, but also an industry driver.

With more than 13,000 locations and a market value of around $4 billion, it serves as the very definition of a fitness juggernaut. The acknowledged answer for millennials and anyone else who’s interested in a rigorous workout, it’s carved out a huge international niche.

Last year, in an article titled “Big Gyms Shoot for a CrossFit Vibe, Without CrossFit,” The Wall Street Journal discussed the ways in which traditional clubs were adapting to the phenomenon.

Today, the new trend that the Journal might describe is how clubs are adopting CrossFit. This time, the headline might read, “Big Gyms Shoot for a CrossFit Vibe with CrossFit.”

Way back then, in 2015, the story was about coat-tailing on, capitalizing on, the opportunity that CrossFit had identified and tapped by introducing similar high-intensity programs.

Riding CrossFit’s Coattails

Pura Vida, an IHRSA-member club in Denver, CO, the newspaper reported, had spent $120,000 to revamp a medical office in the basement of its building to generate a “hard-core” vibe. It created a small-group training space with concrete floors, monkey bars, weight racks, and more.

And that was just the beginning.

Continue reading "CrossFit Crosses Over: From Competition to a Health Club Offering."

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How Fitness Technology Enhances Health Club Member Engagement

For decades, using "fitness technology" meant little more than stepping on a scale. Now an array of wearable devices and digital applications offers detailed workout feedback in real time. 

According to Bryan O'Rourke, president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (FIT-C), that presents health club owners with both a challenge and an opportunity. 

"The clubs that are going to be the most successful are the ones that integrate thoughtful digital strategies with the brick and mortar," O'Rourke said

Getting with the Digital Program 

A digital health club strategy can cover a lot of ground—everything from providing free apps to transferring your entire digital infrastructure to the cloud. As a club owner, only you can say what makes sense for you. 

Here are some options to consider: 

Wearables: As the name suggests, these are small fitness trackers that the customer wears, usually either as a clip-on or with a wristband. (They're sometimes called smartwatches.)

Digital trackers are light years beyond old-fashioned pedometers. Yes, they can count steps taken and calories burned. But they can also monitor heart rate and sleep patterns; some even have a GPS to help bikers and joggers map their routes. 

But the basic idea behind all trackers is simple: Trackers provide more data. More data leads to greater engagement. And engaged customers are happier customers. 

Apps: If you're not ready to make the leap to wearables—or you're worried that your customers will balk at the cost—fitness apps could a good alternative, says Michael Rucker, vice president of technology for Active Wellness

Basically, these apps tap into a smartphone's built-in tracking sensors and repurpose that data for fitness monitoring. And some of them are free. 

"If you're a high-volume/low-price club, your members are likely to be cost-conscious," Rucker said. "They're going to appreciate it if you offer them a free mobile app that does 80% of what a [wearable] does." 

And you'll appreciate the guests who renew their memberships because you made it easy for them to store workout data from both their home and your club on their phones. 

Mobile: Mobile devices and the health and fitness industry go hand in hand. The word "mobile" even suggests an active lifestyle. Health club owners can fully engage their busy, active guests by allowing them to use their mobile devices for all aspects of the health club experience—not just tracking, integrating, and customizing workout data, but also renewing memberships, checking club schedules, reserving equipment, etc. 

As O'Rourke noted, "It's irrefutable that a 'mobile-first' strategy is emerging, which means that you may need to rethink some aspects of your business model." 

A Revolution in Real Time 

You don't have to commit to a particular digital strategy today. You do, however, have to commit to having a digital strategy. Because fitness club guests everywhere are demanding a higher level of engagement that only modern technology can provide. 


If Treadmills Could Talk

In the busy world of fitness technology, the Industrial Internet of Things stands out

Imagine if all the cardio machines—treadmills, ellipticals, arc trainers, etc.—on your gym floor could speak. What would they say? More importantly, what would you want them to say? As an operator, you’d probably want them to tell you how many miles they’ve gone, which parts will soon need fixing and who gets used the most.

While talking equipment might sound like something from a sci-fi movie, it’s not fiction at all—it’s reality. And it’s starting to be implemented in health clubs around the world.

The technology, e.g. “talking” treadmills, is a result of semi-new movement called “The Industrial Internet of Things,” which focuses on machines—from air conditioners to cars to treadmills—that can capture and communicate accurate, real-time data to manufacturers and end users.

The IIoT is diverse and spans numerous industries, but there is one common, simple premise: an object is installed with one or multiple sensors that feed usage information back to humans. For example, in the case of a treadmill, feedback can include how many miles a treadmill has gone, when and how often it gets used, and which, if any, parts need maintenance.

For more information on the IIoT, check out this video from the World Economic Forum:

“The Industrial Internet of Things has huge implications for clubs,” says Bryan O’Rourke, founder and CEO of Integrus, a health and fitness consulting firm, chief strategic officer and principal at Fitmarc, and president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. O’Rourke is one of the fitness industry’s most expert voices on technology, and advises clients on digital media and tech strategy.

For most clubs, O’Rourke says, insurmountable hassle prevents clubs from really monitoring their cardio equipment. “A lot of clubs don’t do it because it’s too much of a pain. You have to go into the equipment, know how many miles it’s been used, what the preventive maintenance schedule is, all sorts of stuff. There is just so much data that we do not have, that if we did have, could really help improve experience and reduce costs and improve quality of service.”

Bryan O'Rourke, founder and CEO of IntegrusIIoT technology is now providing this data and eliminating much, if not all, of the hassle of manually inspecting machines. “Built-in intelligence can save a ton of money and make a huge, positive difference in user experience,” O’Rourke says. “If all your cardio equipment, no matter the brand, was inexpensively connected to the Internet, and manufacturers could see how their club’s equipment is actually performing, and club operators could really see how members are using equipment—all of which is being monitored in real time—you could really help improve member experience and reduce costs. That’s a big thing.”

O’Rourke, as president of FIT-C, is working with six IIoT vendors, one of which is ECOFIT Networks, a Canadian company that makes wireless data collection technology for cardio equipment.

ECOFIT equipment comes with a mounted or built-in sensor that wirelessly relays information to a portal that offers analytical data, asset service tracking and preventive maintenance information. “The portal provides you with a rich set of data and analytical tools,” says David Johnson, director of ECOFIT Networks.

For example, an operator can see how equipment is being used, both as whole and individual pieces. So, you could compare treadmills and ellipticals, or two different treadmills. You can also compare by brand.

The usefulness of such of such information is critical, says Johnson. “It allows operators to make better, strategic business decisions. With this information, a manager can make more educated decisions about what equipment to purchase and when.”

Johnson also notes that the data can lower insurance and liability costs and increase service responsiveness.

In a world of proliferating technology, O’Rourke believes the IIoT has true relevance to for health club operators. “It has a real economic impact. It allows you to optimize your business in a way that takes less effort but produces better outcomes.”

O’Rourke says a common challenge club companies face is not letting the novelty of a certain technology stand in the way of business objectives. “A lot of brands they feel they have to have the latest and greatest, but if it doesn’t help achieve their goals, it gets confusing.”

IIoT technology, however, makes perfect sense. Because while the IIoT may not be a sexy as say, the Apple Watch, O’Rourke jokes, it has the real potential to make a difference in user experience. A better user experience ultimately means better revenue and retention rates.

O’Rourke doesn’t foresee IIoT technology just optimizing business, however. He also sees it bringing the fitness industry closer together. “The Industrial Internet of Things is really going to merge, and require cooperation among, different players, and I think it’s what we’re all going to be working on in the coming years.”

Bryan O’Rourke can be reached at or on Twitter @bryankorourke.

This article is part of a series on technology opportunities for the fitness industry.


The Fun Factor

There’s a nasty little secret in our industry, and it has nothing to do with pricing, or contracts, or trainer certifications, or the cleanliness of your club.
The secret: Most people don’t enjoy exercising. In fact, many of them actually dislike working out. That’s the naked, unvarnished truth. Fortunately, there is a solution: making exercise fun and entertaining.

Turning club-based physical activity into something that’s engaging and enjoyable will keep members coming through your doors over and over again. That’s good for them—and it’s good for you.
We know that’s true, in theory, but how can you make exercise and entertainment synonymous in reality? For suggestions, CBI interviewed six industry thought leaders to get their take on how to achieve that golden goal—with and without the use of technology.

Read more

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Sponsor Showcase at ChinaFit/IHRSA Forum Is a Hit

The Precor booth during the Sponsor Showcase.The Sponsor Showcase at the 4th annual ChinaFit/IHRSA China Management Forum took place on Thursday with many attendees interested in what some of the biggest Asia-Pacific and companies from abroad had to offer.

IHRSA associate members on display were Technogym, Matrix, True, Precor and InBody. Other companies included IMC and Seca.

For more Sponsor Showcase photos, as well as from the entire event, visit the IHRSA Flickr page.


No limitations on uses of wearable technology and fitness trackers

For those who aren’t involved in technology on a daily basis, it can be very confusing. Not just how it works and how to work it, but the ever-changing landscape and players are different from one day to the next.

This is no different in the world of wearable technology and fitness tracking. That is, for the wearable technology illiterate, monitoring devices like Jawbone Up, Fitbit, Polar Electro's FlowLink, MYZONE M250 watch, and even your phone, to name a few.

These devices can do simple tasks like count the number of steps taken during a walk or workout, or show how many calories have been burned. More advanced devices can detect body movement, identify what you are doing, and report on a number of biological signals, like body temperature, pulse and oxygen level.

The questions now are: what is next and who are going to be the players.

Read on to see what the future holds.


This Week in the Fitness Industry 1-10-14

We are less than two weeks into the new year and already so much has happened in the health and fitness industry.

And seeing many of us are still catching our breath from the holidays, as well as the frigid cold across the U.S. due to the Polar Vortex, we are doing a recap of some of the big news from IHRSA members. 

Of course, all of this can be found daily on the IHRSA blog.

Read on to see what Technogym, LA Fitness, Crunch Fitness, Celebrity Fitness, FIT-C and Active Sports Clubs has been bisy doing.


Fitness Industry Technology Council trend report is out

The Fitness Industry Technology Council's 2014 U.S. Health Club Technology Survey Report, conducted at the end of 2013, saw close to 750 participants. The results yielded interesting and useful information.

Here are some interesting findings:

  • 30% of clubs allow prospective members to join online
  • 39% can manage accounts online
  • 62% report costs as roadblocks ti using more technology

Bryan O'Rourke, president of FIT-C, said on his blog, "An increasingly competitive landscape from outside the traditional bricks and mortar health club industry is going to require brands to think about technology adoption and deployment around the customer to create better experiences."

Get the free report here and more on the survey used for the report here.




Survey will assist in technology report

For those who are not comfortable with it, they avoid it at all costs. If you are adept then it is welcomed with open arms.

Either way, technology in the fitness industry is here to stay. Not only should it be part of everyday life but, if you want your business to survive, it really needs to be incorporated into all areas.

To help get everyone up to speed on what is out there, how different levels of the company should be using it, and what your peers are doing, the Fitness Industry Technology Council (Fit-C) is conducting an online survey that will be used for a technology trends report that will be available in 2014. The report will be free and shared with IHRSA.

Read on to see more about the technology survey and how to participate.