Why Health Club Owners Must Deliver Exertainment

Today’s consumers want seamless, user-friendly technology that mirrors their home entertainment options. Here’s how to give it to them.

  • August 15, 2019

Cultural shifts don’t often begin in a health club, but they always end up there. The ongoing technological disruptions that alter consumer behavior force club owners to rethink their equipment inventory, and sometimes even their business model, on a regular basis. One area where this has had a huge impact is in providing entertainment options.

Clubs have long understood the importance of providing television and music during workouts. There’s a word (actually, a portmanteau) for this: exertainment. And it’s been proven to increase member engagement and retention.

Writing in the June issue of Club Business International, Fred Hoffman, M.Ed, explains the value of combining the stimulus of entertainment with working out.

“Entertainment—a primary driver of engagement—has always been a factor in fitness,” writes Hoffman. “An interesting routine, a charismatic instructor, the use of music—all are designed to provide it.”

Hoffman admits that some fitness professionals feel it’s counterproductive to distract exercisers while training. But the average consumer clearly doesn’t agree. Today’s member wants to stay connected. And when they’re connected, they’re engaged.

“Today’s member wants to stay connected. And when they’re connected, they’re engaged.”

“Too little time and lack of motivation are two of the principal reasons that people don’t join, or remain members of, fitness facilities,” Hoffman says. “And research has shown that when members enjoy their workouts and obtain results, their motivation and the club’s retention rate both rise.”

He’s right. A study in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science looked at groups of exercisers exposed to different kinds of entertainment or none at all. The researchers found that when subjects were exposed to music or television, they weren’t distracted from their workouts.

More importantly for club owners, the subjects in the study who exercised while exposed to music and television “had significantly lower dropout” and “completed significantly longer exercise sessions than either the control or television-only groups, and demonstrated cardiorespiratory improvements significantly greater than all other groups.”

Exertainment works. The question is, how do you deliver on the entertainment part of it?

Exertainment: Now It’s Personal

Technology Senza Recumbent Bike Column

It used to be that club owners just hung a few televisions over the cardio area and called it a day. News and sports channels would flicker during business hours and that was that. If they brought in their own personal devices, members could listen to music on their iPod or access the TV audio via a radio dial connection. It was basic but better than staring at a wall all day.

That won’t cut it anymore. Today’s consumer isn’t satisfied with screens arranged in a communal display. Members don’t just want entertainment—they want their entertainment.

The on-demand, streaming-24-hours options available have transformed the way people consume media. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Twitch, YouTube, Pandora—any movie, video game, TV show, song, and home-grown video can be conjured up with a single screen swipe on your mobile device.

IHRSA’s e-book, Turn Your Health Club into a Smart Gym, states it plainly: “These days, there is no off button. Every consumer wants to bring their personal information and entertainment choices with them wherever they go. Pity the health club that doesn’t provide Wi-Fi in some way to their members.”

Wi-Fi is a necessity, but it often isn’t enough. In a sense, members want to bring their living room into your health club. The same menu of media options they enjoy on their couch should be accessible in your club.

This leaves out communal monitors. On-demand entertainment options need to be accessed on the individual screen consoles of cardio machines. Today’s equipment has to provide the workout and the entertainment.

The Importance of ‘Ease of Use’ & Consumer Choice

Technology Senza Treadmill Column

While exertainment cardio units are common, some of them are overly complicated to operate. As any software developer worth his code will tell you, ease-of-use is essential in consumer tech products. Apps, websites, or hardware that forces consumers to take too many steps to reach their desired destination will kill the product. Intuitive, seamless—these aren’t just marketing buzzwords. They’re imperatives.

Exercise equipment that has the requisite screen technology and entertainment portals fail consumers when they’re difficult to figure out. Consumers want to plug and play, not plug and push buttons for half the workout.

They also want choices, not just in streaming services but training options. Offering virtual workouts via your equipment console keeps members committed to the training session. A full spectrum of fitness programming should be accessible via the machine.

Finally, consumers don’t just want choices, they want their personal preset preferences ready to go wherever they are. Your equipment should have the capability to “mirror” their smartphones, so the menu of options they’ve set up for themselves on their mobile devices are available to them.

Got all that?

Equipment That Entertains & Motivates

Catering to today’s member demands for exertainment is a challenge that SportsArt focused on when creating their SENZA technology. The SENZA line of SportsArt’s energy-saving cardio equipment offers an intuitive console that delivers all of the entertainment and workout options that consumers love.

The SENZA system includes:

  • A high-resolution screen with customized options for your specific facility;
  • A full library of workouts covering multiple fitness programming that’s popular with today’s consumer;
  • SENZA Anycast mirroring function, so consumers can stream Apple, Android, or Windows devices directly to the machine’s screen from their smartphones;
  • SENZA Journeys, a collection of 13 virtual workouts equipped with Dynamic Speed Optimization, software that controls the speed of the video to match the user’s pace

Beyond these features, what really makes the SENZA system appealing is the simplicity of its operations. Consumers don’t have to “learn” the technology or search for a way in to the system. Members encountering SENZA’s integrated touchscreen for the first time will find it easy to mirror their device quickly, or choose a fitness programming option that matches their goals. Their preset exertainment options are ready to go.

Engineered with SportsArt’s revolutionary green technology, the SENZA line reduces your club’s carbon footprint. These units have ECO-DRIVE energy-efficient motors and ECO-GLIDE auto lubrication, which reduces energy use by 32% when compared to traditional motorized treadmills. This offers a tremendous marketing advantage for clubs looking to attract younger members and anybody else who places a priority on environmental issues.

To learn more about SportsArt’s SENZA line of green equipment and other products and services, visit their website or call 800-709-1400.

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