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Club Solutions Magazine

Smart Fitness Technology

February 13, 2013
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WebTracking. Goals. Retention. These three words popped up while researching February’s feature on fitness technology. Why these three? After profiling three separate facilities, Club Solutions discovered that fitness technology had been used to track members’ fitness routines, help members reach goals, and ultimately, lead to better retention figures.

Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club

Corey Tabor, the fitness director for Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club in Orange County, Calif., said that fitness technology would increasingly become an intricate component of club and member success. “I think that clubs are going to have to look at how they can provide more value for their members, without increasing staffing costs or members’ dues,” he said. “As members become more tech-savvy, technology will be a staple of the industry going forward.”

According to Tabor, his view manifested itself when Coto de Caza was presented with the opportunity to debut the MYZONE system — a heart-rate based physical activity tracking system, which according to MYZONE, allows clubs to provide a platform for member integration, challenges, goal attainment and frequency rewards.

“When the MYZONE system was presented to the management at Coto de Caza, we understood that this would provide a unique opportunity to add value to our discriminating clientele,” explained Tabor. “The ability to track the physical activity of our members is a critical factor in keeping them engaged in their fitness program.”

Members using the MYZONE system at Coto de Caza wear a heart-rate belt around their chest, which tracks their physical activity, including their heart rate, duration of exercise and calories burned. The belt can be used inside or outside of the club.

Mike Leveque, the chief operating officer of MYZONE, explained how the technology works. “MYZONE employs Ant+, and analogue technology, to track a member’s effort during physical activity, whether they train inside or outside of the club,” he said. “While the member is inside the club, the data from the heart-rate belt is streamed live to a console, displayed on a television screen and simultaneously transmitted to the member’s personal online tracking page. When the member is training outside the club, the physical activity data is recording to a memory chip stored in the proprietary MYZONE heart-rate belt. Once the member visits the club next, their offsite data is effortlessly transferred to their personal tracking page, via a wireless upload.”

The MYZONE system has helped Coto de Caza in two ways: “First, the MYZONE users are excited to use the system because it provides them with personalized user-generated data that they have never seen before,” said Tabor. “This has increased the perceived value of their membership at our club. Secondly, as we sell the belts and watches, we earn a margin, which has lead to increased fitness profitability.”

Tabor also said MYZONE had generated member excitement and increased visits to Coto de Caza’s fitness facility. “Because the MYZONE system is operated through the club, all members that utilize the program must come to the club in order to download their data,” explained Tabor. “This allows us more opportunities to inform members of current and upcoming programs, and to encourage our members to utilize the other outlets of the club. The excitement the members share over the program gets more and more members involved, which in essence, helps create and maintain a successful club.”

FitTechMagnuson Athletic Club

Magnuson Athletic Club (MAC), located in Seattle, Wash., faced a challenge after opening two years ago. The club wasn’t attracting the majority of its potential membership base in the Magnuson Park area. Actually, only reaching about half — 2,000 members, with the potential to service about 3,400.

To remedy the stall in growth, MAC turned to technology, and found a possible solution in Preva, a touch-screen enabled software integrated into Precor’s cardio equipment. According to Precor, Preva provides members with the ability to set fitness goals, track progress, earn achievement badges and save their favorite workouts via a cloud network. Members can then access this information from any piece of Preva-networked Precor 880 cardio fitness equipment.

According to Crouser, the Preva fitness technology has been a great tool for a variety of reasons. “Every member has a hands-on tool to motivate them, keep them entertained and track their progress,” he said. “It is also a good talking point for potential members. The staff has really bought into the Precor Preva technology, and they love to show it off to potential members on a tour, and members that have been in the club for years. Preva offers so many selling points.”

Additionally, Preva has helped the MAC discover which pieces of equipment have been used the most. “We can see the data of what equipment is the most popular,” said Crouser. “This allows us to rotate the ‘tires,’ if you will. We can swap out a treadmill that gets high usage for another one that we know doesn’t have as many miles on it. This helps keep the equipment up and running for a longer life span.”

Importantly to Crouser, the Preva technology has also helped MAC’s members with their fitness goals. “Members engage with the technology,” he said. “I have spoken to members that are in the club trying to sneak in an extra workout so they can reach the weekly goal they set for themselves by logging into their Preva accounts. Members enjoy being able to set and track goals. It keeps them accountable, and gives them the desire to run that extra mile or bike that extra five minutes. Members, young and old, have taken to the technology and make it a part of their daily routine in the club.”

Crouser said he believes the role of technology in clubs will continue to grow. “In the short time we have been using the Preva system, it has become clear the capabilities it has to help retain members and keep them engaged, and interested in their workouts,” said Crouser. “Technology can help club members see a progression in their workouts. That will help them to stay longer.”

The verdict is still out as to whether or not Preva will help the MAC reach its full membership potential, but Crouser said he thinks it definitely has helped, especially in terms of retention. Since using Preva, MAC’s membership has jumped by about 300 members. “Right now from what I have seen I would say it does help increase membership numbers, but mostly the benefit early on I have seen is retaining members,” said Crouser.

Excite Run NowPura Vida

Pura Vida Fitness & Spa, in Denver, Colo., recently turned to Technogym for fitness technology solutions, purchasing treadmills, bikes and cross trainers. According to Heather Bahlmann, the fitness director for Pura Vida, the club made the investment in hopes of getting a better handle on what its members were looking for in terms of fitness.

According to Bahlmann, Technogym’s MyWellness Apps, particularly the Profile app, help Pura Vida better understand its members. The Profile feature — made accessible to members through Pura Vida’s personalized app from MiGym, and on Pura Vida’s website — gathers information from members through Technogym’s Aspiration Finder™, which quizzes members on six separate aspirations, including Power, Sport, Balance, Fun, Move and Shape. These aspirations help Pura Vida better understand what type of fitness activities and styles each individual member enjoys.

“The Profile app is an app that allows us to gather information about our members, and potentially prospects, aspirations and their goals, and helps us personalize their experience,” explained Bahlmann. “We feel we can use Profile as a tool to better understand what our members are looking for, and in turn, give them a better experience. For example, if a person scored high in the ‘Fun’ aspiration, they may be drawn to Group X.”

In addition to Profile, Bahlmann has also been impressed by the Asset app of Technogym’s MyWellness Apps. “We chose to enable Asset on all of the cardio equipment, which connects each piece of equipment with Technogym’s support team,” explained Bahlmann. “Asset tracks the status of each piece of equipment, and this is beneficial, because before I even know something is about to go wrong with a piece of equipment, Asset has already let Technogym know.”

With the touch of a button, Asset provides Bahlmann the ability to personalize every piece of equipment. “If I want to change the message that pops up on the screen, I can just log in to the back end of Asset, and change the message for every single piece of equipment,” she said. “Before, you would have to manually change the message on each piece of equipment, individually. You can also place promotions on the screen, surveys, anything. It’s just another way to communicate with members!”

Bahlmann said communication with members is key, and that Pura Vida continually looks for better ways to do so, particularly through fitness technology. “Everything we do, we do to create long-lasting relationships with members,” said Bahlmann.

CS Interview with Corey Tabor on the MYZONE System from Club Solutions on Vimeo.

By Rachel Zabonick

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