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Entries in wearable technology (26)


This Week in the Fitness Industry: Health Club Industry Exceeds 66M Consumers, an All-Time High 

Health Club Industry Exceeds 66 Million Consumers, an All-Time High 
More than 66 million Americans used a health club in 2016, a record-high since IHRSA began tracking health club consumer statistics in 1987. The number of individual members totaled 57.3 million, up 3.6% from 55.3 million in 2015. Members frequented their health club an average of 106 visits in 2016, also an all-time high. Of the 296.6 million Americans age 6 and older, 19.3% were health club members in 2016. "Consumers continue to rely on health clubs as the primary outlet for physical activity and health goals,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s president and CEO. “Increased participation in fitness activities helped fuel growth in memberships and utilization as total club visits surpassed 5 billion for the fifth consecutive year.” Based on a study conducted by IHRSA as part of the Physical Activity Council (PAC), results show that nearly one out of five Americans belonged to at least one of the 36,540 health clubs nationwide. Since 2009, membership has grown by 26.3%, while the total number of club-goers has increased by 26.5%. 

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Wearable Integration 101: Challenges and Opportunities for Health Clubs

The following is an excerpt from “Wearable Integration 101: How to Boost Health Club Member Engagement and Your Bottom Line,” available for free on the IHRSA Exclusive Member Content App.

Thanks to the technology revolution, mobile devices known as “wearables” are able to measure a wide array of biological details, while providing a tally of our daily activities. While heart-rate monitors and pedometers have been on the market for years, these new fitness trackers and wearables (known as Wearables 2.0) measure personal health markers with technology that was once available only to high-end laboratories and hospitals.

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5 Ways Wearable Devices Can Turn Your PT Staff into Supertrainers 

This is an IHRSA featured post, brought to you by EXOS.

Knowing your heart rate is so 2010. Today’s wearable fitness technology delivers data points that far exceed anything that’s ever before been made available outside of medical clinics. But what good is all that information if it’s not used to improve health outcomes and fitness levels?

When personal trainers and performance coaches are trained in analyzing data from wearable devices, they can provide tremendous benefits to novice and serious clients in reaching their goals. And that means happier members and improved retention.

Here are five ways wearables can take fitness training to the next level.

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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. 


This Week in the Fitness Industry: Peleton CEO Stresses Importance of Group Exercise Environment

Peleton CEO Stresses Importance of Group Exercise Environment
Boutique studios continue to grow in popularity among consumers, and some savvy health clubs are offering boutique-style classes to remain competitive. But boutique fitness has its limitations, such as location, price, and availability. In a recent interview in The New York Times, Peleton Co-founder and Chief Executive John Foley talks about how he hopes to solve those problems by providing users with a boutique experience in their own homes. “What the consumer wants, what is making people addicted to these classes, whether it’s yoga or boot camp or spin or high-intensity interval training or whatever, it’s the group environment,” he said. “It’s the other people. It’s the instructor. It’s the music. It’s the motivation.” 

Meet the IHRSA 2017 Keynote Speakers

A talent management guru, an internationally acclaimed branding expert, and an entrepreneur with an unlikely success story will keynote IHRSA 2017. This March, the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show returns to Los Angeles, CA, and will feature more than 100 education sessions taught by some of the most successful individuals in the health club industry. Here’s a preview of three dynamic keynote speakers who will set the tone. 

Fitness Trackers Might Be Detrimental to Weight Loss Efforts
Some people buy fitness trackers with the goal of losing weight—but perhaps they shouldn’t. A new study found that wearing a fitness tracker may undermine weight loss efforts. For the study, 470 people were put on a low-calorie diet and asked to exercise more. Soon, all started losing weight. After six months half the group began self-reporting their diet and exercise, while the other half were given fitness trackers to monitor their activity. After two years, both groups were equally active—but those with the fitness trackers lost less weight. "These technologies are focused on physical activity, like taking steps and getting your heart rate up," John Jakicic, a researcher of health and physical activity at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author on the study, told NPR. "People would say, 'Oh, I exercised a lot today, now I can eat more.' And they might eat more than they otherwise would have."

IHRSA Generates Support for PHIT on Capitol Hill
(Click to enlarge)Several IHRSA members and staff, along with members of the PHIT Coalition, conducted a lobby day on Capitol Hill today to generate additional support for the PHIT Act. Members of the PHIT Coalition, co-chaired by IHRSA and the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), met with members of the House and the Senate, asking them to co-sponsor the PHIT Act. Currently, PHIT has 101 bipartisan sponsors, with 88 from the House and 13 from the Senate. PHIT, the Personal Health Investment Today Act, would allow Americans to use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for health club memberships, fitness equipment, exercise videos and youth sports league fees. If passed, it would allow individuals to tap their pre-tax account up to $1,000 per year to cover these expenses—families would be granted up to $2,000. Read our full coverage of the PHIT Act lobby day.


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?

Rythm's Dreem

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.

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This Week in the Fitness Industry: Americans and Europeans Flunk Basic Fitness IQ Survey

Americans and Europeans Flunk Basic Fitness IQ Survey

Americans and Europeans still have a long way to go in terms of their grasp on basic personal health and fitness information—the second-annual Fitness IQ survey found that both groups failed when it came to general health and fitness knowledge. Americans scored an average of 42% and Europeans scored an average of 39% on the survey, which questioned 2,600 men and women ages 18 and older in May 2016, according to a press release. The survey asked respondents about heath, nutrition, and fitness topics. This year’s survey took a closer look at Western European countries, and found that Germany scored somewhat higher than other participating European countries, with respondents answering correctly 40% of the time; France scored somewhat lower than other countries surveyed, scoring an average of 37%; and Italy and Spain scored an average of 38 percent, while the U.K. scored an average of 39%.

100 Strong Voice their Support for PHIT Act
Just three months after IHRSA launched the Tax Weekend Challenge to generate support for WHIP and PHIT, PHIT has reached a milestone of 100 supporters. Over the weekend, Congress began its well-deserved recess period. But, before the bang of the gavel sounded, indicating the adjournment of summer sessions, Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) became the 100th member of Congress to address physical activity as a national priority by signing on to the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act as a co-sponsor in the House of Representatives. Read IHRSA's full coverage on this PHIT milestone. 

Government Report: HIPAA Should Extend to Fitness Wearables
A new report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is calling for the government to extend HIPAA to cover fitness wearables and health apps, along with smartphones, websites, and other devices, according to Fox Business. The report found that HIPAA—the law that protects patient privacy—has a large hole in regulations that Congress must fill. “To ensure privacy, security, and access by consumers to health data, and to create a predictable business environment for health data collectors, developers, and entrepreneurs to foster innovation, the gaps in oversight identified in this report should be filled,” the report stated. “Some policymakers have noticed the gaps in oversight.” If the gaps are, indeed, filled in, tech companies such as Fitbit, Apple, and Google, would have to abide by HIPAA to ensure patient privacy is protected. 

Gold’s Gym Annual Convention Goes 'All In' in Vegas
IHRSA represented at Gold’s Gym’s annual convention, held at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, July 11-13. From the first day, when new CEO Brandon Bean proudly championed the Gold’s motto “All in,” to the last, when guest speaker Kris “Tanto” Paranto talked about the importance of leadership and communication in the face of adversity, the conference stressed the importance of collaboration and cooperation between franchisee’s and corporate management. Attendees stopped by the IHRSA booth to network with Global Membership Representative Luke Ablondi, who invited visitors to download IHRSA’s Guide to the Boutique Studio Phenomenon following discussions on industry hot topics such as boutique studio competition. Booth visitors also expressed excitement that the 2017 IHRSA Convention will be back on the West Coast in March. Read our full coverage of the Gold's Gym Convention.


3 Ways Wearable Integration Improves Health Club Member Experience

The adoption of wearable fitness trackers is now reaching critical mass, and savvy health club owners and operators are finding ways to integrate this kind of technology into their club to benefit the member experience, contribute to ancillary sales, and boost retention. 

“By integrating wearables into the member experience, it shows the club is taking an innovative approach to fitness,” says Mike Rucker, Ph.D, vice president of technology for Active Wellness. “This is important from a marketing standpoint, because people want to believe they’re getting the latest and greatest.” 

Beyond the marketing benefits, incorporating wearable devices into the club environment can boost the member experience—when done right. Rucker will share his proven wearable integration strategies in the Thursday, June 9 webinar, “Wearables 2.0: Leveraging the Evolution of Digital Health Technology for Fun and Profit.” 

Here are three ways that wearable integration can improve the club member experience. 

1. More Personalized Workouts 

One of the upsides of wearables—particularly heart rate monitors—is they provide data that can be used to create a tailor-made experience for the individual. 

“It levels the playing field with folks with different varieties of fitness and skill levels because heart rate is a good indicator of effort,” Rucker says. “Instead of having a group exercise instructor having to guess the flow of a particular class, through the use of wearables they can figure out perceived or weighted effort of each individual, and that way everyone can get a workout more tailored to their specific ability at that time.” 

2. Additional Member Communication Touch-points   

“Wearables allow folks to be able to track their effort over time, so since most of these integrate into some form of web or mobile presence, it gives them a historic record and they can track progress,” Rucker says. “And it creates another touch-point where the club or group X instructor can interact with that individual.”  

3. Increased Opportunities to Interact with Members 

By using wearables that members can take home with them, club operators enable them to interact with the brand even when they’re not physically there. This practice helps to break down the four walls of the brick-and-mortar club.

“In many instances, these wearables now allow individuals to track their activity outside of whatever they were doing in the club, so that creates an experience where the club is touching the individual outside of the two to three hours they’re in the facility,” Rucker says. 

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This Week in the Fitness Industry: MyFitnessPal Users Choosing Barre, SoulCycle

More MyFitnessPal Users Attending Barre, SoulCycle, HIT Classes
The number of MyFitnessPal users who attend exercise classes are favoring “upgraded fitness experiences” such as indoor cycling and Barre, according to data from the fitness tracking app. Findings showed that the use of Barre classes grew 3% from 2014 to 2015, with SoulCycle growing 38% and high-intensity impact training climbing 14% during the same time period. What’s more, use of Orange Theory Fitness grew by a whopping 170%. Glennis Coursey, coaching lead at Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal, attributed Orange Theory's rapid growth to the fact that its classes are targeted toward both men and women, while more women attend Barre and SoulCycle classes than men, Entrepreneur reports.

Study: Wearable Fitness Trackers Don’t Motivate Exercise
A study by researchers at Oklahoma State University suggests that fitness trackers don’t motivate users to exercise more, reports Science Daily. For the study, researchers gave a group of physical education students monitors, telling them they would measure the amount of sunlight the students received each day. Later, researchers gave the group another monitor, informing them they would count the number of steps they took each day. The catch—both sets of monitors actually measured how active the fitness buffs were. The results: the students were not more active when they knew their steps were being counted. "You need to take 10,000 steps a day to equal 30 minutes of light-to-moderate physical activity a day, and you should really do an hour a day to be healthy," one researcher said. "Students in the study took 11,000 or 12,000 steps a day, which isn't much above the minimum, and their activity didn't change with the monitoring. We expected them to model good fitness, but now we wonder what we can do to get people to be more physically active!"

U.S. Department of Labor Releases New Federal Overtime Rules
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published new federal rules on overtime. The new rules, a response to President Obama’s directive to update regulations for the Fair Labor Standards Act, which were last updated in 2004, go into effect on December 1, 2016. The rules amend what is known as the White Collar Exemption for certain workers that have historically been excluded from overtime protections. These workers are described in the regulations as “Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees.” Despite receiving written comments from tens of thousands of individuals and organizations stressing the serious harm that the changes would cause, the DOL made few changes to rules as originally proposed in 2015. Read our full coverage on the new federal overtime rules.

151.5 Million Members Get Active at More Than 186,000 Health Clubs
In 2015, global health club industry revenue totaled $81 billion, as 151.5 million members visited nearly 187,000 clubs, according to the just-released The 2016 IHRSA Global Report: The State of the Health Club Industry. The top 10 markets account for roughly two out of three health clubs and three out of four members worldwide. While the U.S. leads all markets in club count and memberships at 55 million and 36,180, respectively, Brazil is second in club count at 31,809, Germany second in number of members at 9.5 million. All three markets are also among the top 10 worldwide in revenue with the U.S. ranking first ($25.8 billion), Germany second ($5.4 billion), and Brazil seventh ($2.4 billion). “This year’s report shows collective growth in markets worldwide, with mature markets leading the way,” said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA's executive vice president of global products.

EEOC Clarifies Rules on Employee Wellness Program Incentives
Employers can offer workers financial incentives of up to 30% of the cost of their cheapest health insurance plan to participate in wellness programs without violating federal laws protecting the confidentiality of medical information, according to final rules released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The rules are meant to clarify the way two federal laws protecting employees' medical privacy apply to the popular programs, which are designed to control medical spending by reducing obesity, smoking, and other risk factors, Reuters reports. The rules are a result of a compromise between U.S. businesses and the EEOC, which previously held that providing incentives for voluntary wellness programs rendered them involuntary, and therefore illegal. 


This Week in the Fitness Industry: The Most ‘Instagrammable’ Fitness Studios

Shape Ranks Most ‘Instagrammable’ Fitness Studios in U.S.
Like it or not, social media is having an increasing effect on the fitness industry. Last week, we reported on the impact of social media on the growing popularity of inversion yoga poses. This week, a article ranked the most “Instagrammable” fitness studios in the U.S., which indicates the degree to which photo-centric social sharing may be affecting health club décor and design. “In the age of Instagram, studios are outfitting their spaces with must-'gram decor like neon-lit mantras, graffiti walls, and personalized equipment,” the article states. “It sets their space apart, and send our motivation through the roof. Not only will we get a good sweat, but we'll get to do it in a place that looks as good as we'll feel.” Among the top-ranked: 305 Fitness, a dance studio in New York City; Air, an aerial yoga boutique in L.A; and EverybodyFights, a boxing club in Boston.

IHRSA President and CEO Signs UFIT Marseilles Declaration

Dr. Oliver Murphy and IHRSA President and CEO Joe Moore signing UFIT Marseille Declaration in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. The declaration represents a commitment to inclusion by and for the fitness sector, in full alignment with UNESCO’s International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Consumers Are Purchasing More Fitness Bands and Smartwatches
In the first quarter of the year, the shipments of wearables increased by 67% over the first quarter of last year, according to research firm IDC, CNET reports. Researchers suggested this growth was influenced by new strategies brands implemented to capture wearable customers, including exhibiting at tech shows and cutting prices following the holidays. Additionally, while fitness trackers such as Fitbit and Garmin continue to outsell smartwatches, smartwatches are beginning to catch up in terms of market share without eating into the sales of fitness bands. "It's shortsighted to think that basic wearables and smartwatches are in competition with each other," Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers, said in a statement. "Right now, we see both as essential to expand the overall market. The unique feature sets combined with substantial differences in price and performance sets each category apart, and leaves plenty of room for both to grow over the next few years."