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Bringing the Biometrics Advantage to Your Health Club

It’s time clubs designed a hyper-personalization program to bond members with their brand. Here’s how tools such as body scanners can take your customer service to the next level.

Personalization is so 2010s. Today, consumers want hyper-personalized experiences.

The difference is in the data-sets available. With AI-assisted data collection technology advancing to new levels, consumer-facing businesses are armed with extensive and detailed information that can help serve their customers in more effective and satisfying ways.

And today’s consumers want hyper-personalized experiences. People have continually showed a willingness to exchange personal information for services and offers, and have done so since the advent of the internet.

Research years ago by VentureBeat found that simply using a person’s name in an email increased the open rate by an average of 29.3%. But these days, simply using a person’s name in an email seems old-fashioned. We’re way beyond that, both from a marketing and service standpoint.

McKinsey & Company released a report last year that projected personalization trends for the next five years. Among the highlights:

  • Physical spaces will be digitized. Says the report: “ … 44% of CMOs say that frontline employees will rely on insights from advanced analytics to provide a personalized offering … and 37% say that facial recognition, location recognition, and biometric sensors will become more widely used.”
  • Brands will use ecosystems to personalize journeys end-to-end. The company predicts that different providers will jointly own the customer experience and that “expanding partner ecosystems allows brands to provide more seamless and consistent consumer experiences across all stages of their decision journeys.”

This is ideal for health clubs. In a Club Business International article, industry experts suggested how technology-enabled hyper-personalization, also sometimes called hyper-customization, can lead to improvements in retention and revenue.

“Hyper-personalization involves creating an engagement experience that’s customized for, specific to, a given user. It’s about convenience, about reducing the number of steps a person has to take to get what they want,” says Bryan O’Rourke, president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (FIT-C):

Other industry thought leaders stress the ongoing integration of health club services and medical technology.

“There's a shift happening in healthcare, and people in the health and fitness profession need to learn how to capitalize on this technology shift,” says Eric Durak, president and founder of Medical Health and Fitness.

This opens up opportunities for clubs to become more than a place to work out. It makes your health club an essential part of each member’s wellness ecosystem. And a great place to start is with biometrics.

“There's a shift happening in healthcare, and people in the health and fitness profession need to learn how to capitalize on this technology shift.”

Eric Durak, President & Founder

Medical Health and Fitness

Not Just Weight Management but Health Management

Body assessments have had a place in health clubs for decades, but many of these measuring devices in the past, such as body fat calipers, were imprecise and not particularly illuminating. These and other tools returned “baseline assessments” that could guide some personal training programs, most of them focused on weight management.

Today’s consumers want more. They’re more in tune with wellness and overall health, not just with getting fit. They’re also more tech-savvy and have access to more of their own health information. People have wearables on their wrists that measure health markers that once required expensive machines to measure and medical experts to decipher. But this has only increased consumer demand for more detailed and actionable personal health assessments.

Some turn to more sophisticated analytic devices such as VO2 max tests, DEXA scans (for bone density), hydrostatic (underwater) measurements, and other advanced methods. But these can be expensive and may require highly trained professionals to conduct them.

As explained in a recent IHRSA e-book, How to Maximize Your Gym’s Data Strategy for Sales & Retention, biometrics are becoming more affordable and easier to utilize in a health club setting. One of the more intriguing categories of biometric tools is the body scanner, but many of these devices have practical limitations.

One example is the “electrical bioimpedence” body scanner. These machines use a mild electrical current to determine body fat and muscle mass. But they often require pre-test conditions that are inconvenient for the typical health club member. They also don’t break down the type of body fat you have. Some body fat, like brown fat, is metabolically different than other body fat.

Now a new kind of body scanner is poised to hit the market that’s convenient for health clubs, and also highly accurate in terms of total body assessment. And for those consumers looking for health management as much as weight management, it satisfies their demand for a hyper-personalized wellness profile.

Technology MYE Fitness 17 CV column

Fitness equipment on the IHRSA 2017 Trade Show floor.

A Paradigm Shift in Body Scanning Technology

MYE Fitness Technologies is one of the industry’s largest suppliers of OEM/ODM design and manufacturing services. They provide highly advanced app technology and state-of-the-art cardio machine LCD TVs and wireless TV audio receivers and transmitters to some of the largest health and fitness companies in the industry. Their latest innovation is poised to revolutionize in-club biometric services.

MYE recently announced the launch of the BodyScript Body Composition Analyzer. Using near-infrared technology, this body scanner provides gold standard body measurements for muscle, fat, bone, and water. The technology is so comprehensive and accurate for body composition that it’s able to reveal bone mass, muscle mass, lean mass, metabolic rate, total water composition, and a comprehensive analysis of body fat, breaking it down to three distinct types of fat.

“We're giving you everything,” says Tony Garcia, founder and president of MYE Fitness Technologies. “It’s a comprehensive overview of body composition that can be used not just for weight management but also for health management. And the information is easy to understand. You don't want to get too technical with the consumer. You just want to say, here is what this means and here's how it relates to your situation.”

Not only is the information precise and detailed, utilizing the BodyScript Body Composition Analyzer is quick and convenient. The test takes only 10 seconds, and people don’t have to remove their clothes or even their shoes. And there are no meal or beverage restrictions. You can take it any time of day.

“It was important for us to remove the obstacles that have existed in other types of body scanners currently on the market,” explains Garcia. “And you don't need any Bluetooth or network connection. You can place the machine anywhere in the club.”

Using the device does not require certification or special training, says Garcia.

“The education of how to use the machine is really simple. In fact, there's an onscreen prompt that will allow to do it on their own if they want. It's that easy. But it’s still as accurate as hydrostatic testing and DEXA scans. We're in the same percentage range as those tests.”

A big issue with biometric devices of any type is the procurement and protection of personal health data. Garcia says that data security is their highest priority.

Technology Body Scrip MYE column

“Our patented process encodes the results data into a unique bar code. Clients use the BodyScript mobile app to scan the bar code to instantly upload the results to their account,” says Garcia. “The app decodes it for the user, and we don’t see it. We’re just sending the data—we’re not keeping it. However, it can be instantly linked to a backend HIPAA-compliant medical record system for designated physicians to be able to view it.”

It’s important for clubs to stay informed on data security issues. IHRSA has taken the lead in helping industry professionals navigate the ever-changing regulations and safeguards that are required when handling personal health information, including biometrics collected by club technology.

Different states have different restrictions, and new data protection laws are on the way. It’s important that you know the laws and principles of data security when building your data security practices. Regularly check ihrsa.org for updates. Refer to these IHRSA sources for more information:

There’s no doubt that biometrics is going to play a larger role in health club services. With advanced and convenient technology like MYE’s BodyScript Body Composition Analyzer now available, it’s time to consider taking advantage of the hyper-personalization revolution.

For more information on BodyScript and MYE Fitness Technologies, visit their website. And if you plan to attend IHRSA 2020 in San Diego from March 18-21, stop by MYE’s booth (#2327) to see the debut of the BodyScript Body Composition Analyzer in action.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org