Biometric data is the overarching term for any personal information captured, converted, or stored, based on an individual’s unique biological or physical characteristics. Clubs are increasingly using biometrics to tailor workouts, demonstrate tangible results, and monitor member and staff activity, using tools such as:
- fingerprint and body composition scans,
- VO2 max testing,
- iris scans and facial recognition.
The possibilities that biometric data brings to club operations and fitness programming are exciting, and recent observations show biometrics are poised to explode in their industry uses and applications.
With this surge in usage, comes regulation. Currently, 28 countries have laws regulating the collection and use of biometric data. In the U.S., there is no federal law governing the collection and use of biometric data, but states are beginning to step into this regulatory void.
After seeing this worldwide surge in regulation, and talking with IHRSA member clubs and suppliers, IHRSA has moved biometric data from emerging trend status to a potential threat to the fitness industry.
Why the surge in regulation? The use of biometrics has some concerned about the erosion of privacy and potential civil rights issues. Lawmakers are increasingly interested in biometric data and what it means for individuals’ privacy and are actively looking to regulate the collection and use of biometric data.
IHRSA supports protections for individuals, companies, and employees' privacy. We also recognize the potential cooling effect such regulation could have on innovation in the industry.
Flagging Potential Issues
It began with flagging biometrics as a potential issue for the health club industry, following the regulatory trends both domestically and globally and reporting back to the IHRSA board.
Once it was clear that the collection and use of biometric data is uniquely essential to the future of the fitness industry, the IHRSA Board of Directors took an official position on the issue. IHRSA supports legislation that protects individuals, companies, and employees’ privacy while ensuring the continued development and use of technological innovation that enhances the consumer experience and management of clubs.
Since then, IHRSA has been tracking, reporting on, and lobbying on biometric data bills.