Four years ago, when Jeannie Carter began working at Minton Sports Complex in Richmond, Texas, she recalls the club was selling Polar heart rate monitors. The members would strap the Polar monitors on, and then log their workouts through a computer.
Today, that extra step — manually logging the information from the strap into the computer — is no longer necessary. Now, Minton Sports Complex has its own app, which allows members to sync their workouts automatically, via their wearable tracking devices.
The goal, said Carter, who is now the club’s group fitness director and personal training manager, is accountability. “You check-in and log your workouts, [and we] made it as user-friendly as possible,” she said. “It’s a great way to encourage our members to be more accountable.”
JR Anciano, the director of sales at GymGroups, said that everyone today expects something to be available on a smartphone.
“Those are the same sentiments when people said you needed a website 15 years ago,” said Anciano. “It’s just a matter of time before someone, somewhere, some organization, some facility, is going to catch on and then everyone is going to say, ‘I should have just started instead of having to play catch up.’ I would say: Don’t fight the innovation.”
Greg Skloot, the vice president of growth at Netpulse, recognized having a mobile app is twofold: It provides accountability for the member and helps the health club generate revenue through member referrals and challenges you can input into the app.
Skloot took it a step further, adding that mobile apps provide connectivity between members and the club.
Although companies such as Netpulse can help create an app using pre-made templates that health and fitness clubs can “mold into its own app,” according to Skloot, they also have the choice to code their own mobile application.
However, he prefers businesses take a pre-made template route, rather than trying to code their own mobile functionality.
“It requires servers or a hosting plan on somebody’s servers,” said Skloot. “And it requires a lot of service because every time Apple launches a new phone with a different screen size or updates iOS, you have to update your app. So it requires ongoing technical resources and engineering. We would typically encourage anyone to not pursue that route, unless you are an incredibly technology sophisticated organization with a wild amount of resources.”
Minton Sport Complex’s mobile app was built through Netpulse, and Carter is working on a rewards program so members are aware there is an app and use it to its full functionality.
“Just engagement from your members has been the biggest thing,” said Carter. “It’s twofold. It’s kind of offering a service to them, for them to be a part of our club as a member.”
She plans to make it so each time the member downloads the app, he or she gets an allotted number of points. Those points can then be exchanged for a protein bar, a smoothie or personal training opportunity.
The club’s app also offers many features, such as Group X classes, schedules and announcements, on top of the ability to log workouts and meals.
“It’s kind of like the age old saying: If you know what your customer wants before they want it and you can give it to them before they can ask for it, that’s a huge opportunity,” said Anciano.