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Entries in technology (24)


Calling IHRSA Members Dedicated to Fitness Innovation and Technology

Are you an IHRSA member who recognizes the increasing significance and impact of technology in the global health and fitness club industry? 

If you answered ‘yes,’ we need your insight! 

IHRSA’s New Innovation & Technology Advisory Council 

We’re creating an advisory council on technology and innovation in order to ensure that IHRSA members have the necessary information and resources they need to capitalize on innovation and technology trends in their businesses. 

“Technology is changing the customer journey and the perception of brands,” says Rasmus Ingerslev, chair of IHRSA board of directors. “The next 20 years of technological development will match the last 100 years. The health club industry’s traditional four walls are being affected by wearables, tracking, streaming, and online exercise. This doesn’t mean the health club industry can’t compete, just that the industry must stay alert and up-to-date on these trends to become and remain relevant.” 

Objectives of the council include: 

  • Aligning the industry with vetted technology oriented companies, organizations, and key influencers to leverage information and experience.
  • Capturing and interpreting the articulated and unarticulated needs of the industry’s current and future customers relating to technology and innovation.
  • Educating IHRSA members on the current innovation and technology landscape to aid them in making sound innovation and technology decisions.
  • Establishing IHRSA as a credible source of knowledge on the future of technology in—and relating to—the health and fitness industry.
  • Helping IHRSA and IHRSA members improve, expand, and enhance their current products and service offerings.
  • Exploring visionary strategic partnership opportunities for IHRSA.

Interested? Here Are the Details: 

The new council, which will meet three times per year—in person at IHRSA’s 36th Annual International Convention & Trade Show in March and during two virtual meetings—will consist of 10-16 members appointed by IHRSA. 

Council members will serve for a two-year term, with an additional term at IHRSA’s discretion. New council members will be recruited regularly in order to ensure a diversity of experience (e.g. non-industry indigenous companies, technology thought leaders, IHRSA membership types, etc.). 

IHRSA members were invited to apply for the council on our website by November 18. We’ll announce the inaugural council members prior to IHRSA 2017—taking place March 8-11, 2017, in Los Angeles, CA.


Don't Get Left Behind: Embrace Digital Technology Today, Says Marcos Eguillor

Technology is changing industries wholesale and this is not an exception for the fitness industry.

“In the current market situation it is no longer enough to offer good service—you need to adapt your business to a customer that is familiarized with technology, accustomed to mobility, and claiming services in line with the twenty-first century,” said Marcos Eguillor, managing partner of BinaryKnowledge and professor at IE Business School, during his IHRSA European Congress keynote address, sponsored by Keiser Fitness. 

Eguillor advised that, in addition to having excellent staff and providing a good experience, health clubs must also offer digital solutions that extend the customer journey beyond the time spent at the gym. However, he warned, "digital transformation is much more than the development of an application or purchasing new technology"—the process requires a strategy with the following key steps:  

  1. Define your business objectives.
  2. Focus on what is relevant to your customer and integrate it as a single offer.
  3. Select carefully core suppliers and experts.
  4. Offer solutions that add value.r
  5. Start small and stay flexible.
  6. Experiment and learn from the process.
  7. Track the progress and measure results.
  8. Share your experience with other industry peers. 

Digital technology is here to stay and the fitness industry should confidently embrace it and use it as a tool to grow. 

“Early adopters in the industry are already seeing an increase in their earnings,” Eguillor said. “To ease the transformation, get your staff involved–they are the ones who can best interpret the data provided by new technologies.”


Growing the Fitness Industry through Innovation and Technology

If you’re waiting to see how the latest technological innovations will affect the health club industry, just look around—they already have.

“Technology is changing the customer journey and the perception of brands,” says Rasmus Ingerslev, chair of Stockholm Leisure Partners, Repeat, Barry’s Bootcamp Nordic, and the IHRSA board. “The four walls of a health club will no longer be what defines it due to the rapid development within a range of key technologies, such as artificial intelligence.”

Drastic changes such as these may be unsettling, but savvy club owners will look past potential disruptiveness and find opportunity. 

“We can no doubt increase member engagement by using technology in a smart way, which increases relevance of our services and the likeliness that we actually help our members reach their goal of becoming and staying healthier,” Ingerslev says. “From a business perspective, this means increased retention and, thereby, increased lifetime value of a member. Everybody wins.” 

Ingerslev will share more of his strategies during his IHRSA European Congress session, “Growing the Fitness Industry through Innovation and Technology.” The Wednesday, October 19 presentation will help attendees: 

  • Explore why technology will increasingly change the fitness industry.
  • Discover the opportunities and threats from innovation and development in technology.
  • Gain an understanding of which major technology trends will impact the fitness industry.
  • Learn about the trial and error of a technology oriented entrepreneur.
  • Obtain practical advice on how to prepare your business for the future of the industry.  

So, what tips does Ingerslev have for club owners hoping to prepare their business for the future of the industry? 

Join IHRSA! Come to my session in Seville!" he says. "Jokes aside—although there is some truth to both statements—I think you should go through your customer journey very critically and decide where and how you can deliver the most value and consider how technology is relevant in that equation.”

Learn more about the IHRSA European Congress, October 17-20 in Seville, Spain. 


Going Digital: The Disruptive Opportunity for the Global Health Club Business

If you’re uncertain about technology’s place in the health club industry, Marcos Eguillor, managing partner of BinaryKnowledge_ and professor at IE Business School, would like to give you a wake-up call. 

The growing use of technology in fitness is “not going back to ‘the good old times,’” he says. “Forget about it—this is not going to happen. Digital is going to stay, and instead of trying to fight it I would say try to leverage it.” 

Eguillor will teach IHRSA European Congress attendees how to leverage digital strategies in his keynote address, “Going Digital: The Disruptive Opportunity for the Global Health Club & Fitness Business.” His Keiser Corporation-sponsored presentation will take place on Wednesday, October 19 in Seville, Spain. 

How Technology Is Impacting Health Club Infrastructure 

One of the biggest disruptive elements of today’s digitized world is that the days of solely brick-and-mortar businesses are over. 

“The main change is the way customers think of infrastructure has changed,” Eguillor says. “The gym or health club is no longer just a place. Technology has made us independent from the infrastructure being a specific location or exercise machine or personal trainer—we are more autonomous and more knowledgeable about what to do and how to do it.” 

Jump on Different Digital Opportunities 

Eguillor suggests looking for new ways to turn a profit, even if that means the fundamental value proposition of your club could change. 

“It’s no longer a place to practice sport—the gym infrastructure has to be rebuilt in terms of the value proposition,” he says. “I don’t know if that means better infrastructure or no infrastructure, but you cannot be restricted to infrastructure. You need to be part of the value change in terms of digital.” 

This means that all staff members have to be aligned under the new digitized structure, Eguillor says. For example, if one of your personal trainers isn’t capable of interacting with members virtually, in addition to face-to-face, you are likely missing an opportunity. 

“Your personal trainer at the health club needs to be a digital ambassador,” he says. “By pushing those boundaries forward you can create a seamless experience—the user shouldn’t be able to differentiate when they’re at the club and when they’re out of the club.” 

Ultimately, undergoing a digital transformation can be a huge opportunity for a health club, but Eguillor cautions that the process is much more involved than simply building an app or purchasing new technology. 

“Digital transformation is not technology—it is what you do with technology,” he says. 

Learn more about the IHRSA European Congress, October 17-20 in Seville, Spain. 


It’s Not ‘If’ Technology Will Impact the Fitness Industry—It’s ‘How’

Several IHRSA board members and former board members attended and spoke at the Motionsoft Technology Summit in Baltimore, MD, this week.

CIOs Discuss the Future of Fitness Technology

Rick Caro, former IHRSA board president and president of Management Vision, Inc., spoke at the CIO Roundtable on Wednesday.

The roundtable discussed how health clubs should budget and plan for impactful new technology projects. The other panelists were Corey Benish, CIO of Planet Fitness, Mike Rucker, vice president of technology for Active Wellness, Bruce Gardner, IT director for David Lloyd Leisure Ltd., and Adam Zeitsiff, CIO of Gold’s Gym.

Panelists shared their companies short- and long-term tech projects, and then shared the fitness industry technological advancements they hope will develop in the future. Zeitsiff said he would like to see the creation of a unified data repository, where health clubs can track engagement data and use the analysis to help members. Benish, Rucker, and others shared their desire for the fitness industry to develop industry standards around data, since the language isn’t currently consistent.

The Fitness Industry Must Expand Outside ‘The Four Walls’

“It’s not ‘if’ technology will impact the fitness industry—it’s ‘how,’” said IHRSA Board Chair Rasmus Ingerslev during his closing keynote address on Thursday.

The next 20 years of technological development will match the last 100 years, and technology is replacing the customer journey, he said. The health club industry’s traditional four walls are under attack from:

  • Wearables
  • Tracking
  • Streaming
  • Online exercise programs

That doesn’t mean the health club industry can’t compete—but the industry must become relevant outside of the four walls of the club.

In the future, Ingerslev said he believes three types of clubs will emerge:

  • Purely brick and mortar
  • Brick and mortar with digital extension
  • Purely digital

Going forward, he anticipates that service will become more individualized—both face-to-face and digitally; fitness will become more social (again); gyms will become relevant outside of the four walls, 24-hours a day; and technology will intensify and change the competition.

And in this time of flux, IHRSA will provide resources to help health clubs to adapt and, ultimately, serve more members.

“I am with IHRSA because we are selling the idea of a healthier planet,” he said.


What Can Wearables Do for Your Health Club Members?

You may think you are familiar with wearables, those tracking devices that nearly everyone and their mother-in-law seem to be sporting on their wrists these days.

But do you really understand what they—and the mobile fitness apps that work with them—can do for you, your members, and your club?

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You’re probably aware that smartwatches, such as Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, and the Apple Watvh, can count a user’s stops and track the distance they travel. Some can monitor a person’s heart rate, and, using global positioning system (GPS) technology, can map walks, runs, and other activities, generating a wealth of data about their fitness level—or lack thereof.

But if that is all you know, then you may be missing out.

Depending on a wearable/app package to do little more than amass data is a thing of the past. Using them to effect lifestyle change—now that’s the wave of the future.

Think of it as “Wearables 2.0”.

“In the past, wearables have been primarily focused on tracking. The thought was that providing data and making people aware of it was going to prompt behavior change,” says Michael Rucker, the vice president of technology for Active Wellness, based in Sausalito, CA. “Now we know that we need to present data in a more meaningful way.”

In his capacity with Active Wellness, Rucker oversees the digital strategies for the company’s 10 Active Sports Clubs, as well as its corporate wellness partners.

You may be thinking, “Wearables 2.0? I haven’t yet begun to think about Wearables 1.0.”

If so, you’re not alone.

That’s such a common predicament that, recently, IHRSA devoted an entire Webinar to the topic. The title: “Wearables 2.0: Leveraging the Evolution of Digital Health Technology for Fun and Profit.”

The presentation, led by Rucker, was designed to help club operators maximize the potential of these devices, and the need for it quickly became apparent. When polled, 63% of the participants said they were exploring the use of wearables; 20% indicated that they were using wearables via a club-based program; and 10% said they were collecting data from them.

In case you missed this informative and illuminating event, CBI spoke with Rucker to find out more about how your club can use these devices to effect real behavior change, and, in the process, have a positive impact on virtually every aspect of your business.

Continue reading "What Can Wearables Do for Your Health Club Members?"

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The Fitness Singularity Is Here—And It’s Awesome

This is a Club Business Exchange featured post, brought to you by SportsArt.

We live in an age of anxiety. We worry about the changing global climate, public health, and the speed at which technology is transforming our lives. Sometimes it seems like it’s all going too fast, spinning out of control. 

It’s hard to believe that a single technological development could address both our quest for more renewable energy sources, and better tools to fight obesity and chronic diseases. But SportsArt, a pioneer in green technology, set out to create a line of fitness products that did just that: deliver optimum fitness results without a measurable carbon footprint. They succeeded—and then some—by creating ECO-POWR: a line of health club equipment that harnesses human activity and converts it back to the power grid. 

Rarely has man and machine combined to create such an elegant solution to multiple problems. Think of it as the fitness singularity: where technology combines with human abilities to create a better world. 

Human Energy Meets Human Ingenuity 

Turning human activity into a renewable energy source takes state-of-the-art technology, but to make it practical for a health club setting, SportsArt knew that their ECO-POWR line needed to be as easy to install and manage as traditional equipment. Using micro-inverters, similar to what’s used in solar panels and wind turbines, the stationary bikes and ellipticals don’t have any extra cords or boxes (external power devices)—they simply plug into a wall outlet. 

That’s it. Then the power generated by using the fitness equipment goes right back into the facility’s power grid.

Using humans as a renewable energy source is also good for the bottom line. One workout can produce as many as 160 kilowatts of electricity. That significantly adds up during the course of a day, creating a pleasing complement of benefits: the member’s health improves as the health-club’s energy costs decline—and all for the benefit of the environment. 

Appealing to the Eco-conscious—and Millennials 

SportsArt’s technology edge isn’t isolated to their green outlook. The company has created a revolutionary touchscreen technology called Senza that’s intuitive and versatile. With Senza, exercisers can easily and quickly find their desired workout and entertainment in the intuitive touchscreen controls. With Senza Journeys, you can work out in a number of scenic environments, from the Golden Gate Bridge to nature trails, and Senza is also customizable, so the club owner can personalize it to reflect the culture of his or her gym. 

ECO-POWR can open up a whole new marketplace for health clubs. SportsArt’s powerful green equipment and the Senza experience are uniquely appealing to millennials and other populations who may otherwise not consider joining a gym. In fact, some club owners use the equipment to offer discounts to member who generate the most energy. 

Despite its groundbreaking technology, SportsArt equipment is a money-saver, backed by a best-in-class warranty. To learn more about SportsArt and ECO-POWR, including videos of the equipment in operation, visit


Did the Cult of Productivity Skip Health Clubs?

This is a Club Business Exchange featured post, brought to you by CSI Software.

Technology promised us more time. With powerful smartphones, enhanced processing speeds, and an electronic grid connecting the world at the click of a mouse or a finger tap on a screen, our productivity was supposed to increase exponentially. 

It hasn't quite worked out that way. Sometimes, technology seems to demand as much time as it saves. If the future belongs to the fast, then it’s taking too much time for health clubs to get people where they want to be. We need a wellness environment where health and technology share the same goals, allowing us to focus on what matters. 

What about the data explosion? With increased data comes increased time spent managing and accessing information stored in different files, folders,and programs. In environments like health clubs, that puts a lot of employees, including trainers, at a disadvantage when accessing crucial information. This is supposed to be the age of maximum productivity, not data overload. 

What's the solution? Maybe you just have to make the technology smarter. Maybe we need a technology provider totally committed to making us healthier, happier, and more active. 

The Human Element Enhanced 

It seems that in a health club, electronic precision is reserved for the exercise machines. The human element—trainers, group instructors and front desk personnel—have to navigate their day by relying on multiple resources to satisfy all their responsibilities. Scheduling, billing, booking clients, tracking work flow: how much time is wasted searching for the status of one client, one class schedule? Why not put all of that relevant data in one single mobile resource? 

CSI Software has made this happen.

Continue reading about CSI Software.

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Strategic Technology Investment Can Yield Cost-savings for Health Clubs

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

Sometimes, it seems like health clubs have a love/hate relationship with technology. 

It’s widely accepted that technology can improve club operations and the member experience, but, with the plethora of tech solutions in the fitness market, choosing the right products can be dizzying for health club owners. 

Sure, investing in technology might be complicated and expensive—but it’s necessary; experts agree that tech investments are key components to running a successful health club in today’s increasingly competitive market. 

Why It’s Important for Health Clubs to Invest in Technology 

“It comes down to a financial bottom line—if you don’t invest in technology, you have very little capability of communicating with your members, and you have very little capability of communicating with the equipment that you’re using in the clubs,” says Paul Lockington, new products development manager for Orangetheory Fitness and Fitness Industry Technology Council (FIT-C) board member. “And without those two communication links, you’re going to be hard-pressed to generate cash to pay the bills.” 

And, while fear of accumulating more bills is why many health club owners don’t make substantial technology investments, spending your money wisely in the tech space could ultimately benefit your bottom line. 

“You can substantially increase your ROI using technology properly,” says Dave Johnson, co-founder of ECOFIT, a networking cardio fitness equipment company out of Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. 

Johnson, who also serves on the FIT-C board, says health club owners who have limited resources should be making strategic technology investments in order to satisfy members and keep facilities running smoothly. 

Continue reading "Strategic Technology Investment Can Yield Cost-savings for Health Clubs."

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Virtuagym Fitness Software Attracts Consumers, Health Clubs 

Brothers Hugo and Paul Braam, the creators of Virtuagym, a sophisticated, cloud-based fitness software platform, got involved with health clubs in a rather unconventional way. 

Generally, industry innovations appear first in the commercial sector, and, then, migrate into the consumer arena. Not so with Virtuagym. 

“Typically, a product is built for the industry,” observes Hugo. “But we started as a B2C company in 2008, and didn’t engineer our club-specific, B2B version until four years later.” 

In 2008, Hugo, a former corporate intellectual property lawyer, and Paul, a project manager for an information technology firm, quit their jobs to launch Virtuagym, which is headquartered in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. 

“We wanted to pursue our passion for fitness,” Hugo explains, “and recognized there was an opportunity to develop digital tools to help people live healthier, more active lives.” 

For the first six months, the brothers developed their seminal product in an attic, and, later, moved into a shared, start-up office.

Virtuagym was envisioned as an online platform that would allow users to select from a number of prefab workouts or, by using the app’s exercise library, design ones of their own; track their nutrition and exercise progress; take part in challenges; and engage others in an online community.

The first iteration of the Virtuagym app made its debut on iTunes and Google Play in 2009.

By 2011, the consumer form of the program had been downloaded more than 2 million times.

Continue reading about Virtuagym in the June issue of CBI.