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Why Health Clubs Should Send Their Trainers to the Cloud

With the right digital tools for your personal trainers and coaches, you can maximize your most valuable assets.

Reinventing yourself is never easy, especially when it’s forced on you. But that’s the situation we’re in. Trends that were moving along at a manageable pace have accelerated, and none more so than cloud-based app services.

We’re not just talking about streaming content or live training sessions. All parts of your member experience need to be accessible via mobile technology. But even more important than providing basic services is enhancing the relationship you have with your members. And that means providing your trainers and coaches the tools they need to create successful programs for their clients.

When trainers and coaches can access data from wearables, they increase their personal connection to their clients. With personal training still one of the most reliable and profitable revenue streams for clubs, maximizing these relationships should be a priority.

That’s best accomplished with wearables that are plugged into your health club’s cloud-based digital network. While these complex systems, especially omnichannel services, can seem impersonal, they actually allow health clubs to enhance personalization.

Your members want these services. Consumers are more enthusiastic about wearable fitness tech than ever. According to an annual survey of global fitness trends by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), wearables own the top spot. According to the ACSM: “Wearable technology has been estimated to be about a $95 billion industry.”

It’s time for your health club to get its share.

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An Athlete’s Best Friend & a Coach’s Dream

Consumers are enthusiastic about wearables for several reasons. They help produce better results, and they also track health markers that go beyond fitness—a much more desirable option for all consumers these days. And wearables are fun. People love keeping track of their progress. Feedback becomes reinforcement, which enhances retention.

Case studies back this up. According to a recent article in Club Business International, Dublin-based Westpark Fitness increased their retention rate by 16% after introducing fitness trackers to their membership.

But your wearable engagement needs to be supported by trainers and coaches who have access to the best fitness tech available. Just ask 11-time Ironman champion Lisa Bentley. Now retired from competing, Bentley is an author, lecturer, and coach in high demand.

When Bentley was in her prime as one of the best athletes on the planet, she didn’t have the benefit of today’s wearable technology. That meant that Bentley and her fellow endurance athletes didn’t have data that told the true story of their workout, such as VO2 max, recovery status, and cardio load.

“Ten years ago, the only thing that mattered was running for two hours or riding my bike for four hours. That was a workout,” says Bentley. “That's changed. Now you have the immediate feedback of the effect every workout has on your body in ways we didn’t have before. Athletes love to track data. It's almost like your watch becomes your reward.”

“Wearable technology has been estimated to be about a $95 billion industry.”

American College of Sports Medicine

This is valuable to anybody seeking improvement in athletic performance and fitness levels. As a coach, Bentley can see if her client is slacking off or overdoing it. With the demand for recovery services increasing, a top-line wearable can account for adequate rest and track important measurements that gauge adaptation.

“Athletes tend to be overachievers,” explains Bentley. “I have to coach some of my clients to rest for a day or two. Sometimes you have to tell them to take their watch off.”

That’s how reliant athletes become on their fitness tech devices. That same commitment to high-quality wearables is true for the average health club member as well, says Bentley.

“For somebody who is a bit more sedentary, it's really a good reminder to remain active. One of the best ways to increase energy in your day is to hop up once an hour for about five minutes and do some sort of activity. This becomes valuable to people.”

Compliance, motivation, accountability—these are all ingredients for a successful program for every fitness level. That means greater retention and more opportunities to market other club services.

The Ultimate Wearable Technology Ecosystem

These cloud-based digital tools are only as good as the tech supporting them. During her career as an athlete and now as a coach, Bentley has relied on one company for her fitness tech: Polar.

“I have been with Polar for almost 20 years, from the time that I raced to the last few years managing athletes,” says Bentley. “I always want my athletes to work with great companies, and my experiences with Polar convinced me to have my athletes join them.”

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Bentley uses a highly sophisticated and intuitive tool called Polar Flow for Coach. This cloud-based interactive system connects with Polar’s array of fitness wearables to give trainers and coaches a dynamic platform to plan, monitor, and motivate clients. This is a long way from the early 2000s when Bentley only used Polar’s heart rate monitors. But to Bentley, this simply proves that in every era Polar leads the pack in wearable innovation for athletes.

“It’s amazing technology. I can log onto the Polar account of an athlete and look at her calendar, her workouts, the pace of her runs, the cadence of her steps per minute, her heart rate, even her sleep—everything a coach needs to assess their client.”

With Coach Feed, trainers can access training diaries and real-time progress reports for detailed analysis and future planning. The responsible user interface is easy to navigate for both the coach and the client. This enhances the relationship between your member and your trainers, which extends to your health club brand.

Polar Flow for Coach works with an array of Polar wearables, including Polar A370, M200, M430, Ignite, Vantage M, and Vantage V. The data tracked, collected, and stored is extensive, with information that includes:

  • daily activity reports;
  • cardio load status;
  • orthostatic tests;
  • and other fitness assessments measuring VO2 max, heart rate, and many other markers.

Bentley says that these systems are so comprehensive and versatile that Polar’s wearables can become virtual coaches themselves.

“In the absence of a coach, you could definitely use the preprogrammed fitness tests that Polar provides. Essentially, your smartwatch can be your coach and guide your training.”

Learn more about Polar Flow for Coach, Polar wearables, and other related products. You can also check out their webinar, "3 Steps to Success: Remote Personal Training for Your Gym."

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org