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Measuring your heart rate during exercise is great for a variety of reasons, one of which being the fact that it levels the playing field. Technology such a MYZONE, a wearable fitness technology company, creates a handicap for every user based on their maximum heart rate, meaning users can compete on a level playing field with anyone, regardless of their athletic ability.
For years, members of Midtown Athletic Clubs have been reaping the benefit of tracking their heart rate through the MYZONE system. The system gives users a sense of satisfaction and achievement through a simple point system called MEPS, or MYZONE effort points.
Here, Richard Earney, the national program director of Midtown Athletic Clubs, explained why MYZONE has been a great fit.
CS: How were you introduced to MYZONE, and why did you decide to partner with them?
RE: My history with MYZONE started back at the FIBO convention in Cologne, Germany 2011. MYZONE had a small stand in the back corner — at this stage MYZONE was half baked, more of a concept. Both my operations director and I are from New Zealand, so we were initially drawn in by Dave Wright, the charismatic Australian founder, and his vision of biofeedback and wearable tech.
At the time, I was with a European club chain, and we had been trialing a lot of biofeedback in the clubs. It was still early in the wearable technology days, and all products had their limitations. Most were focused on the individual exerciser, some were trying to take on the group space, limited to the cycle studios. MYZONE founders Dave Wright and Emmett Williams had a bigger and broader vision for their product and wearable tech — it was refreshing and we were curious.
Five years later, I’m still just as enthusiastic about the product and have been there every step of the way with the MYZONE team. We hit some teething problems to begin with, however, have rolled this product out now in various clubs and countries throughout Europe and North America, with the latest installs at the Midtown Athletic Clubs being extremely successful. They continue to be a step ahead of the competition, and have always maintained a strong relationship with the clubs. This means a lot to us as a company.
CS: What are the benefits to your business as a result of this partnership?
RE: For the Midtown clubs, MYZONE acts as a tool to engage members at many touch points throughout the club. Depending on your strategy, this can be an income driver based on sale of belts, or you can focus on the big picture, and use it as a promotion and retention tool. Ultimately, this is driven by the business model your club is based on. At Midtown, it’s a big retention play, and it works.
The key is to maximize all features — don’t just stick it in a cycle studio and hope for the best. Build it into the DNA of your facility. Ensure all employees, from frontline to senior management, are on board and bought in. Build a buzz, roll out challenges — full club and small group — and ensure you shout about it.
CS: What are the benefits to your members as a result of this partnership?
RE: Members are drawn into the gamification, track-ability and accountability of MYZONE. Their workouts are worth something — it’s measurable. Their effort is rewarded. As opposed to fitness, they start to speak in MEPS (MYZONE Effort Points), as opposed to calories. This is a significant cultural shift for the industry. Suddenly, the deconditioned member or elderly member can compete on the same playing field as the ultra-fit. This is motivating. The competitions, whether it’s full club or small group and coach-driven, create a club-within-a-club feel. It draws people in and gives opportunities for members and associates to engage.
CS: Have you been pleasantly surprised by working with MYZONE in any way?
RE: Interestingly enough, and something I was not prepared for, was the technical level at which members started to speak about their sessions. At Midtown, I hear members having conversations about training zones, heart rate variability and recovery times. They talk about the need to take it easy today, as their resting heart rate is too high. These members are hooked and it’s great to hear! I’ve also had some interesting conversations with medical professionals — they are intrigued by MYZONE. This could be a means to guide exercise intensity, with reporting and accountability. This is an exciting next phase I’m looking forward to getting into.
CS: What else can you tell other club owners about the benefits of working with MYZONE?
RE: Don’t “stick it in a corner” and hope for the best. Make it big, and build challenges and competitions around it, inside and outside the club. Avoid doing too many challenges, as the novelty and drivers will taper off and you will keep tapping into the same members. Have MYZONE ambassadors within the club, as with all technology, there is a process of learning and adjustment.
Most of the issues we face are human error, but it takes time and often patience to deal with each member at a time. Make it part of your club’s DNA, not just a “fitness” product. Ensure the membership teams use it on their tours and can describe its functions as simply as possible. I suggest running frequent workshops, with handy tips and tricks. Ensure your coaches are on-boarded first and foremost, build a buzz and do not assume your teachers and coaches understand heart rate training — you may well find some of your team slept through those sections of their education.
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