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Hands down, technology is responsible for the majority of evolutions taking place in the health and fitness today. And, that will likely continue to be the case moving forward, as technologies of all kinds — apps, wearable, virtual — disrupt the industry in a variety of ways.
With this in mind, Adam Zeitsiff, the chief information officer for Gold’s Gym, recently shared his thoughts on the technology trends clubs should keep on their radar, in addition to how to determine if a technology is worth the investment.
CS: In your opinion, what are the biggest technology trends that will have impacts on the health and fitness industry in the upcoming months and year?
AZ: I certainly feel virtual reality, artificial intelligence and mobile digital fitness solutions will have a significant impact on the health and fitness industry over the next 12 to 24 months.
CS: What technologies are you most excited about?
AZ: Of the three I mentioned above, I would say that mobile digital fitness solutions (such as turn-key coaching solutions provided in a subscription/membership-based format on mobile devices) will have the most impact initially — especially as it relates to their ability to engage people both inside an existing brick and mortar health club, as well as outside of the club when they are at home or traveling.
Artificial intelligence will also be impactful to our industry, specifically when trying to understand our members’ workout and buying trends and catering to those trends in a more automated, real-time and convenient fashion.
And finally, although I do think virtual reality will have an impact on our industry, I believe this one is the furthest away from really changing how our members workout when they are inside of our clubs.
CS: What are some technologies you think clubs commonly underutilize or misuse? Why do you think that’s the case?
AZ: The mobile app. Yes, everyone has an app and there is nothing “special” about these any more, but I feel that health clubs have a unique and very personal relationship with the consumer, and we can have a very positive impact on their lives if they take full advantage of our products and services.
As such, I think that our industry has an opportunity to better utilize mobile apps to provide a higher level of engagement with our members, and to communicate information to them that is highly pertinent to their needs and desires (based on their workout trends and buying habits we can monitor through our club management software systems).
By creating a more focused and consistent communications and engagement plan to your members via a club’s mobile app, you can certainly strengthen that club/member relationship, and of course, gain a greater share of the member’s’ wallet at the same time.
In addition, I believe clubs should be very focused on using their mobile apps as a member acquisition tool by providing incentives to their existing members to send Free Pass Invitations to their friends (via text message through their mobile app), and then rewarding members when their friends actually join the gym post-free pass. We are “in our member’s pockets” every day, and without going overboard, we can take full advantage of this fact to improve our relationship with those members, and increase our club’s bottom line at the same time.
CS: What are some ways clubs can better incorporate technology trends into their clubs?
AZ: Technology “disruption” is happening all over the place, and in every industry. Regardless of where or how an operator incorporates technology into their clubs, I feel strongly that this decision shouldn’t be made in-haste just because they see the tides changing around them. Whatever technology trends they are considering, operators should ask themselves if this system, hardware, software, etc. will have a positive impact on at least two of the four key areas outlined below: