From the Trenches: Is Our Emphasis on Technology Sacrificing Interpersonal Skills?
A personal trainer’s view of the health club business.
IHRSA 2018 was a truly energetic and amazing experience. There were lots of fit people, tons of excitement around ideas and products, and lots of positivity about the fitness business.
One other item that had a large presence: technology and software. There were apps for monitoring workouts, managing members, grabbing data from other fitness apps, personalizing your entertainment experience on your piece of cardio and even for measuring the amount of repetitions on your strength training pieces. Truly amazing stuff!
But I wonder if all this technology and cool applications may have steered us from the true reason people want to belong to a health club: interpersonal relationships. I am not saying technology is bad, but I wonder if in developing all of this software and data management we have lost a little bit of how we connect to a person in our facility.
Just think: There wasn’t a booth at IHRSA that taught a new trainer how to shake someone’s hand and say, “Hi, I’m Vic and I’m a trainer here at the club. If there is anything you need please let me know, and I will answer your questions or do what I can to assist you.”
I love data collection and showing heart rates for workouts, but there isn’t an app to tell a trainer that a person in the corner is working out a little too hard and is looking a little woozy. They should probably go over and assist that member.
I have looked for an app to remember all our clubs members’ names, their kids or grandchildren — and trust me, there isn’t one. But having that ability to remember the names of members and unique things about them is a great skill that many of us in the club industry have and use on a regular basis.
The three main reason people join clubs is convenience, cleanliness and community. If clubs can’t reach out to members and create that sense of community, who are they going to use the technology on?
These interpersonal skills take time and experience to develop. They are the types of skills I find many new entries to the fitness field lack. I know this comes with time, but with the amount of time the industry is focusing on all this software, could we not develop something to teach studio and club employees how to reach out and connect with members to make sure they use our clubs — so that the technology can really enhance their experience?
Just my thoughts from the trenches.
Vic Spatola is a NASM CPT, CES and PES. He is a senior trainer and martial arts manager at Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Denver, Colorado and has over 20 years in fitness management.