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Fitness Technology


The beginning of the year always brings new clientele to clubs. Check out some of these technologies that the clubs we interviewed are using that will attract your new members, as well as impress and inspire your old members.

Eastern Lycoming YMCA

Members at the Eastern Lycoming YMCA in Muncy, Pa., seized the opportunity to train with heart rate monitors. Buffy Basile, the wellness director at the YMCA, instructed indoor cycling classes using the Polar Cardio GX. It allowed instructors to work with members in an indoor cycling class, according to five target heart-rate zones. All class members would wear a heart-rate monitor with their heart rate projected on a screen in the room for everyone to see.

“It removes perceptions,” said Basile. “You could feel like you’re shot and I look at your heart rate and it says you can give more. Well, you’re going to do it.”

Basile has seized the opportunity to educate herself and her members about the benefits of heart-rate monitoring and working toward a target heart rate. “It’s a great foundation tool. Your heart and how it responds to activity is so important.” She encouraged clubs to really educate themselves on the use of heart rate monitoring because once you know how to use it properly there are many different ways for it to be incorporated.

At the Eastern Lycoming YMCA, members register and pay a fee to enroll in eight-week spin classes utilizing the Cardio GX. There is a 60-minute class designed for the beginners and a 90-minute class for the advanced.

Basile said within four sessions the Cardio GX paid for itself, and that there usually was a waiting list for the classes. It doesn’t matter what time of day she holds the sessions — they sell out.

This summer, the YMCA hosted an outdoor cycling event alongside the building. There were two screens, one simulating outdoor terrain and one with the members’ heart rates. “I thought for sure everyone’s going to watch the terrain,” said Basile. “Nope. Everyone watched their heart rate the whole time.”

People love accountability, explained Basile. “Everyone can move together [in the class]. You’re going to work for that next point. Nobody wants to be left behind. Your name is up there the whole time.”

The Sporting Club San Diego

Your members are on their smart phones, a lot — so why not reach them where they are? Anthony Macaluso, the general manager at The Sporting Club San Diego, introduced an app for his gym, powered by MiGym. “That’s where the industry is moving,” said Macaluso. “Everyone is on their smartphones all the time. You don’t see people on their computers when they’re out. They’re always on their phones.”

The Sporting Club adopted the app within the last six months. Members can get information about schedules, promotions and guest passes with the app. “It was so simple. [MiGym] took care of most of it for us.”

Macaluso likes that none of the members’ information is shared with a third party — keeping their information safe. “So far members really like it,” he said.” They even want to see more options. [The app] pays for itself. It eliminates the paper in the club.”

According to Macaluso, the app is extremely easy to manage. Scheduling operates using Google Calendar and is simple to update. When tech support has been needed Macaluso was able to get it fairly quickly. MiGym will stay on the phone for a tutorial and walk him through any issues.

“I think it’s great. It pushes us into the next wave where clubs are going. It trains the member that they can get information themselves and saves time — they don’t always have to pick up the phone.” 

Biggest Loser Ranch at Fitness Ridge

When members get on a piece of cardio equipment do they know how to achieve an optimal results? Paige Corley, the program director at the Biggest Loser Ranch at Fitness Ridge in Ivins, Utah, helps guest at the ranch achieve the best results possible. Guests at the ranch stay for at least a week and get put through rigorous workouts, extensive education and stick to a strict diet.

To ensure success when they leave the ranch, Corley encourages guests to take advantage of the testing they offer with the CardioCoach™ Plus — VO2 and resting metabolic rate (RMR) testing. “A lot of people underestimate how many calories they are consuming and they overestimate how many calories they are burning every day,” said Corley. “You’re more efficient if you know these numbers. These tests will educate.”

Guests at the ranch are encouraged to take the tests, but they are not included in their weeklong stay. The tests can be administered separately or together as a package — both for a separate fee. Typically guests take advantage of the tests, said Corley. Since RMR testing needs to happen in the early morning, before activity, or later in the day, time slots fill up very quickly for the week.

“This is one of those things where upfront it’s an investment. But, when [people] get it done and the light bulb goes off, they then go tell their friends. It’s an investment in guest’s health and it’s a win-win on both sides.”

Corley believes that educating clients as much as possible really helps their success. “I was a trainer for 15 years and I found my clients were way more successful when I educated them. It’s another option to show you really want to help them.”

Element 5 Fitness

Members enjoy statistics on their weight loss efforts — it makes it easier to track all of the progress they are making. Belton Lubas, who co-owns Element 5 Fitness, a fitness and performance center in Kirkland Wash., invested in the BodyMetrix Pro System after doing extensive research. “The typical trainer uses a pen and paper and a calculator to take measurements, but how professional does that look?” asked Lubas.

Lubas uses the BodyMetrix system in a variety of ways. He likes that it’s not too invasive to use — you’re not pinching someone’s fat. The system also produces reports that can be e-mailed in a PDF format to anyone to explain the tests and its results. Aside from just measuring someone’s body fat, Lubas also likes to show people a 2-D scan of their thigh and what the fat layer looks like.

Other assessment and features of the BodyMetrix include: record circumference measurements, waist-to-hip ratio, relative disease risk, 3-D virtualization and other body scans.

“This has raised the bar for assessments,” said Lubas. “This eliminates note taking. There’s a file you can e-mail.”

To create new leads Lubas takes his BodyMetrix system to health fairs. He offers a free test, be it BMI or something else, and then for the person to see the results they must give their e-mail address to get the report. “The barriers are broken down. You’re getting their info, getting their e-mail address.” He also advertises the BodyMetrix tests to corporate wellness programs.

Lubas said the possibilities are endless as to whom you can market to for body fat assessments. “Understand what you’re investing into. It helps sell fitness and training, not just a membership. It helps measure results and you can do follow-ups with the device.”

A Universal Metabolic Tracking Formula

Being able to track workouts always has been important to members. Now, the ability to track and chart workout routines has brought insurance companies into the mix to reward clients for healthy behavior. David Dunlap, the president and COO of FITwave International Technologies, LLC, has been working on this opportunity. “Our main emphasis is to work with everyone, from gyms to non-profits, to insurance companies,” said Dunlap. “We want to be the turn key solution.”

fitPAS was created to score a person’s metabolic activity. These activities are referred to as “Active Burned Calories” (ABC) and can include any number of physical activities. The calories burned get logged into the system online, where a score is then calculated. The fitPAS score is measured in three levels: below 100 is Metabolically Active, individuals who live a healthy lifestyle; between 100 and 200 is Metabolically Balanced, people who lead a moderately healthy lifestyle. Those 200 plus are Metabolically Challenged and need to increase their daily activity to engage in a more active lifestyle.

The score is best utilized when members have several workouts entered and can view weekly and monthly charts. The monthly chart gives the most accurate look at one’s score and from there one can improve not only their score, but their body mass as well.

“Members now have an incentive to go to the club,” said Dunlap. fitPAS provides the accurate tracking that has been missing for members. “We are going from the top down. Insurance companies want to cover the other 80 percent. This is incentivizing companies to drive people to clubs. This gives people a proprietary way to look at what they’re doing without intimidating them.”

fitPAS is looking to solve the standardization of tracking protocols with recognizable standards that will not only be accepted by health care and medical communities, but also work with clubs and wellness centers. -CS


By Ali Cicerchi

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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