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Operations: Evaluating Integration — YMCAs and For-Profit Clubs Speak Up About Integration


It seems that the impact on the member experience within health clubs continues to be challenged with the pressure to keep up with always-changing technological advances. Starbucks allows customers to order beverages via their mobile phone and Amazon’s customers can order instantly via one click. The health club industry truly has an obligation to match the user experience if interested in remaining relevant to today’s consumer.

Often I speak to health club owners and operators on this topic, asking a variety of questions surrounding the central idea of technology integration and user experience.

My observation has been that while many equipment manufacturers and club systems are providing solutions, the adoption rate is rather low. Now this is not the case across the board (there are of course examples like Life Time Fitness that have a highly-robust platform, both mobile and web based, for non members and members). However, the average health club does not have a boast-worthy integration plan or story to tell around technology integration.

In recent conversations with the YMCAs of central Kentucky, president and CEO David Martorano had this to say on the topic of social integration. “Facebook continues to be our leading social media traffic driver at 95 percent of social media users referred through this medium. We’ve employed contests to build our email marketing lists. Our social media interaction continues to increase through the use of specific targeting. We are currently growing our Instagram account and will further increase reach through contests and sharing.”

They believe that by using social they can increase member engagement and use resources to do so. Other YMCAs I spoke with could not make the same claims. The vast majority of the other YMCAs and for-profit centers could not speak of a plan at all.

Sean Schooley at Elite Fitness of Roswell was proud of his efforts in hiring millennials to help out. He admittedly said he does not necessarily have any “bragging rights” around his technology or social integration plan other than to rely on the help of others and to be a student of how to serve his members better through integration. He was very adamant in saying that social is critical and Facebook is no longer an option if we want to be a cutting-edge industry. Social is now a necessary part of that equation.

In a world of fast-moving integration of technology, there are still slow adoption rates in our industry. Elevated connectivity technology offers the fitness industry a way to bridge the gap between how things used to be, to where they’re going.

What do you think? Is the fitness industry lagging at large or thriving in general around technology innovation? I would love to hear your thoughts.



Lindsey Rainwater

Lindsey Rainwater is an experienced business advisor, executive coach and the founder of The Women in Fitness Association (WIFA). WIFA is the global association supporting women in their career trajectory helping them rise to their fullest potential in business and life.

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