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The Hype of Wearable Technology in the Fitness Industry

wearable technology

For the second year running, the American College of Sports Medicine has named wearable technology the No. 1 trend in the fitness industry. It’s a trend that is not only seen in the United States, but across the globe.

This “wearable technology hype’” began back in 2011. This trend, like many emerging technology, was adapted into the fitness industry, following what is known as the Gartner Hype Cycle. The typical cycle shows that emerging technologies have the potential to garner a lot of visibility early on and can be met with high expectations, but often that potential drops when the technology fails to deliver. Once the technology’s potential has dropped in the public’s eye, it begins a slow march towards gaining long-term sustainability.

The Gartner Hype Cycle is broken down into five distinct phases:

  1. Trigger: A trigger is caused when there is a breakthrough in technology. During this phase there is no real proof of concept, but it sounds like a wonderful idea. When looking specifically at wearable technology this breakthrough came circa 2011 with the adaption of the cloud and app driven smartphones, which made it easy and convenient to track steps taken and data.
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations: During this phase, the emerging technology is met with a lot of noise from early adopters. This noise can be both positive and negative in nature. Wearable technology was met with this noise when facilities began deploying wearables as a part of their offering. The facilities may have seen the potential in wearable technology, but were met with a product with errors and questions regarding deployment, as the product was still in its discovery phase.
  3. Trough of Disillusionment: By this point, interest for the product has worn off and fails to show continued ROI. This phase is tough, but is a learning phase for figuring out what works and what doesn’t, circa 2015.
  4. Slope of Enlightenment: During this phase, changes to the product and deployment have begun. The noise is quieter during this phase, but is steady and more productive than the previous phase. Wearable technology saw this phase back in 2016, when the fitness industry figured out the best way to incorporate wearable technology.
  5. Plateau of Productivity: This phase is where the product typically begins to see success. During this phase, early adaptors have succeeded, and the more pragmatic and conservative buyers are beginning to get behind the product. This is the phase wearable technology is currently in.

Through this cycle, the industry has learned that wearable technology is best used in the following cases.

  1. Engaging new members with some form of gamification to drive onboarding success.
  2. Enhancing paid programming, specifically HIIT protocol and group training.
  3. Applying gamification to strategically boost member behavior and natural patterns of engagement, a hack on retention.


Emmett Williams is the president of MYZONE. Fore more information call 312-870-4800 or email emmett.williams@myzone.org.


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