A big announcement surfaced recently that Under Armour had acquired My Fitness Pal. The reason for the power play being it’s Under Armour’s goal to be “the world’s largest digital health and fitness community.” By all appearances, it certainly accomplished that by positioning the company as the largest source of health-related data. One can’t help but wonder what Under Armour is up to. Whatever it does with the information, it will change the shape of the health and fitness experience as we know it.
First, it becomes the fitness destination for 120 million users of fitness apps. This is what we mean by “intelligent agents,” or services that consolidate an individual’s data from many sources, but within a single “category.”
Second, It has the most valuable focus group (for its category) on the planet. Under Armour now has the ability to study actual behavior data, not just self-reported data, with respect to how frequently people exercise, how/where/when they exercise, and the full spectrum of consumer — and professional-level fitness activities. From a product development/product marketing perspective, this is priceless.
Finally, if UnderArmour decides to monetize the consolidated data from the apps it has acquired, it would be a tremendously valuable entrant in the global data economy. And this could all be done in a privacy-compliant way: the firm could, for example, sell city or state governments data about running/biking/hiking trail usage. It could help urban planners understand actual use of city paths to help them optimize energy usage (e.g., one path might be more trafficked, therefore need better nighttime lighting), plan for future bike lanes, etc. — Julie Ask, Huffington Post.
What does this mean for health clubs?
Our industry is collectively growing beyond the brick-and-mortar style of service offering. The general public is being empowered in new ways everyday to get moving! In the past going to the gym was where the motivation to exercise was found. Today the motivation to get moving daily is pinging out from smart phones via notifications, vibrating via wearable devices and is a topic of conversation everywhere, it seems. Health and wellness is becoming more and more available to the masses.
This begs a call to action, a movement of merging technology and the human experience of exercise. The question will become how brick-and-mortar health clubs choose to integrate technology into the member experience. This idea is one that will begin to be a topic of many operators’ conversation, as industry integration is becoming of higher and higher importance.
Lindsey Rainwater is an experienced consultant and coach to the fitness and wellness industry. She specializes in business development and leadership. Currently she is working with the Fitmarc Team helping club owners all over the South Central region of the U.S. propel their business forward via group exercise solutions. For more information about Lindsey, follow her @lindseyrainh2o.