Best Practices for Heart Rate Tracking Technology
Before heart-rate tracking technology, health club members had to rely on guesswork to determine how hard they were working. Now, as heart-rate tracking continues to evolve, more precise information is available to show members exactly how close they are to reaching their goals.
“All clubs should incorporate heart-rate tracking technology into their one-on-one personal training and classes,” said Davor Fetahovic, the general manager of Body Control Fitness. “Heart-rate tracking is still the best and only truly efficient way to test someone’s level of intensity with exercise.”
And with heart-rate tracking tech like Polar, Myzone and Accuro on the market, there are several options to choose from.
Here, Fetahovic, Justin Grinnell, the owner of State of Fitness, and Adam Mills, the president and CEO of KBM Strategies, share their best tips and practices for succeeding with heart-rate tracking tech:
When choosing to adopt heart-rate tracking technology, it’s important to completely commit to it, incorporating the tech into every applicable area of your club.
Davor Fetahovic: “We partnered with Polar about two years ago. We implement this tech into every aspect of our facilities — in all of our classes and personal training, we utilize heart-rate monitor technology. With every client who comes to us for one-on-one training, we make sure they create an online account, that they have a profile, and receive a heart-rate monitor. And then throughout every session, throughout all the program designs, we’re tracking the efficiency of the training. We make sure the intensity of the training is where we need it to be, and we make sure everyone is working out in an optimal state.”
Justin Grinnell: “Each new member receives a Myzone belt when they join for no cost. We bake it into the membership, since we want to have a way for the member and our training staff to track progress and metrics while working out. This allows us to track progress and as a safety issue, for those with metabolic issues, we can ensure we are not going too hard.”
Adam Mills: “We’ve been using Accuro technology for several years, and utilizing live, dynamic heart-rate tracking provides for an engaging experience for clients and a much better-connected coaching experience. Members are getting this rich experience by using biodata and heart rate to ensure they’re getting into an effective training zone based on what their objectives are. Because of real-time, visual queuing for each individual, coaches can interact more effectively with clients. As a result, people are getting more out of training and having better relationships with coaches and trainers.
Once you’ve added heart-rate tracking technology to your offerings, it’s important to make the buy-in and participation for members as seamless as possible.
DF: “When we added the technology, we let all of our members buy a monitor at a heavily discounted rate. It is now part of the enrollment fee, so all new members receive an H10 Polar heart-rate monitor. We show them how to create their profile, work everything properly, and educate them on why we’re incorporating this technology and how it’s beneficial for them. It’s an integral part of what we do.”
JG: “During what we call the ‘21-Day PT Experience,’ we allow members to use a Myzone belt. If they join, they give the MZ-1 belt back and receive the MZ-3. We send them tutorials and also go over all the details during their 90-minute introductory session.”
AM: “We’ve done a loaner program where the club will invest in a certain amount of devices — Accuro has several models to use — and through the trainers, we’ll lend clients a device to have their first experience. It’s kind of a ‘try before you buy’ scenario. Most people get very engaged once they’ve had a chance to try the monitor. They have more specific questions about goal-setting, and in this way, we onboard clients to try the technology and invest in a more personalized coaching experience.”
It doesn’t matter how sophisticated technology is if your staff doesn’t buy-in or fully understand it. As the connecting point between the club and its members, it’s up to your staff to be the primary advocates for heart-rate tracking tech on the fitness floor.
DF: “We have weekly staff training workshops to perfect what we do within our group personal training classes and our one-on-one training. The heart-rate monitoring technology is an integral part of that. We also make sure everyone is well-educated and well-versed, what each zone means, and what type of response we’re looking for out of a specific type of training. It’s just ongoing, weekly training to make sure all questions are able to be answered, and that we can convey it in a comfortable manner to our customers.”
JG: “Our staff is required to go through the portal and look at all of the pertinent information they will need to discuss how to set up, use and analyze the data.”
AM: “We’ve recently developed an academy, basically a certification that clubs and coaches can invest in, that will help them become heart-rate specialists. We’ve spent quite a bit of time on the onboarding process of training coaches on how to utilize the system and how to communicate with clients, whether it’s one-on-one or one-to-many onboarding with one of our customer service or fitness specialists.”
One of the biggest advantages of heart-rate tracking technology is its personalization. Clubs can now tailor individual workouts completely based on statistics gleaned from wearable devices.
DF: “Because we have so much data now, we’re able to tweak our classes and our program design, while also incorporating new challenges that are heart-rate based or calorie-based. Leveraging all the data we’re getting through Polar, we’re able to create very engaging challenges and scenarios for our members that really excite them and get them to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but also keep them engaged with the classes. Because they have the data themselves, they can track it, and they know where their workouts are leading them.”
JG: “Our large group training sessions are cardio and metabolic conditioning-based. We use heart rate recovery methods during these sessions to make sure we don’t go too hard or push when we don’t need to. Heart rate recovery is also important. Members don’t always need to be in the red zone, if at all, at times.”
AM: “Developing periodized training protocols tends to really work well — people need an objective. We do some basic testing at the beginning, and we are using heart-rate tracking to establish baseline heart rates and we look at performance over time. Whether it be maximum heart rates, caloric burn, or people’s objectives around performance or weight loss, the programming is aligned with some of the client’s objectives. From there, we can then help them dial into the intensity of workouts they should be doing in order to achieve their goals.”
Heart-rate tracking technology pulls its own weight, especially if the incorporation and onboarding are done correctly. Because members love seeing exact workout data, you can generate additional revenue through heart-rate based programming.
DF: “Heart-rate tracking can be a great profit center because you can charge more, you can sell more, and it creates more perceived value to the programs you already have in place. The increased ROI for us has been in member retention and engagement. Because of the heart-rate monitor technology, we’ve seen members’ results increase. With more data, we can educate them more, provide more value, create new programs and put together these challenges that make it fun for people.”
JG: “If they are a member, it is more of a retention tool. We don’t look at it as just a tool to make money off the member, but rather to keep them engaged and coming back. We run what are called ‘MEP challenges’ for fun and for prizes, and this keeps them engaged. We also post about it on social media for others to see what cool things we are doing with Myzone. We see higher usage from our members. And we have had many people come in simply because they are interested in the belt.”
AM: “It’s driving a lot of the peripherals in regards to people achieving their goals, whether that’s through individual coaching, nutrition or connected devices. There’s a major opportunity to drive revenue. And as a result of clients getting better results, they typically will stay members longer and refer more often because they’re getting good results.”