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Follow the Beat: Heart Rate Tracking Tech Tips

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Two of the strongest motivators for working out are trackable progress and gamification, because members want to get in better shape and have fun doing it. Heart rate tracking technology is perfect for showing members the results they’re looking for while adding an element of competition during workouts.

“Heart rate tracking is an essential part of the member journey,” said Edward Navan, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Regymen Fitness, with 15 locations throughout the U.S. “By utilizing the technology, we can better describe the expectations of the workout of the day, giving members specific targets to reach. Members appreciate seeing the results of their workout and having a measurable baseline from which to track their results.”

To make sure you’re getting the most out of heart rate tracking technology, there are four areas to focus on: finding the right tech partner, staff education, marketing and member onboarding.

Partners

Step one is the simplest yet most terrifying part of the process: picking a tech partner. Bri Sexton, the chief product officer of BLAST in Atlanta, Georgia, believes it’s important to take your time, do some research and try out several different brands, especially since what you’re looking for might change as you search.

However, there are still a few basics you should always seek. “When it comes to fitness technology, you need a simple but aesthetic user interface that is extremely consistent and reliable in its performance,” said Sexton.

Customer support and product reliability are also important factors to consider. A wearable and its app can look amazing, but if the functionality is questionable and the company’s customer service is lacking, it isn’t a good fit.

“When we look at a vendor, the most important decision comes down to how they will support us and how their product performs overall,” explained Navan. “With technology comes headaches and product failure at times, so how quickly the vendor troubleshoots the problem is critical to the relationship.”

According to Sexton, technology problems are inevitable, so the responsiveness and level of expertise of your partner company is crucial. “How the manufacturer helps you get ahead and fix those issues determines the longevity and success of the program,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s your reputation on the line as the studio that chose the tech.”

Before settling on a particular product, it’s also critical to get second and third opinions. Touch base with other industry experts and see who has had experience using the heart rate tracker you’re considering.

Staff Education

Once you’ve chosen your brand, the most important step to actually using heart rate tracking tech effectively is getting buy-in from your staff. Because heart rate tracking is such an essential component of Regymen’s workout structure, trainers and instructors are given extensive training on how the tech works and why it’s so important for members to use.

“If your team doesn’t understand how to best communicate the benefits of wearable technology, then the product will never be used to its full potential,” explained Navan. “Our team understands the member experience is so much better when we are able to provide them with simple analytics. Having a tool to guide people is essential to member retention.”

Staff members don’t need to be tech geniuses, but they do need a strong grasp on the basic functions of wearable tech. When members have questions, staff should be able to answer them. “We teach our team a simplified approach in regards to how they talk about the importance and significance of wearing a heart rate monitor,” said Navan.

BLAST also incorporates heart rate tracking into many of its workouts. According to Sexton, every instructor uses wearables during workouts so they can “speak fluently to clients about the importance of ‘training smart.’”

In fact, every staff member — front desk worker or class instructor — is taught the most basic functions of the club’s AccuroFit heart rate monitors and FitMetrix software. “We teach them how to enter customized heart rate zones, add heart rate monitor ID numbers to profiles, and troubleshoot the monitors, change batteries, check and change straps, etc.,” said Sexton. “This keeps our clients up and running, and we can fix any issues that arise on the spot with minimal disruption to a client’s experience.”

Marketing

Once your staff has a good understanding of how heart rate tracking tech works and why it’s so beneficial for members to use, you can then disperse that knowledge to your members.

BLAST uses in-studio signage and social media marketing to promote its heart rate tracking tech. This opens the door for conversations with members about how wearables can help them stay on track with their workouts and give them a clear path to achieving their goals.

“We also run a bundle deal for the metabolic profile testing and the heart rate monitors to make it simple and easy for them to get started,” explained Sexton. “All they have to do is show up.”

Regymen takes a similar approach, leaning heavily on in-club marketing to educate members on the benefits of heart rate tracking. According to Navan, they also use frequent challenges throughout the year to encourage the use of heart rate tracking tech.

“We strongly encourage members to use their heart rate monitors every workout,” said Navan. “Our coaches make the heart rate a critical part of every workout. They’re always educating members on the importance of understanding when the body is telling you it’s time to slow down and recover, and other times it gives members a push to work a little harder.”

Member Onboarding

Getting members acquainted with their heart rate trackers is where staff education pays off. The better understanding your staff member can provide of the technology, the more engaged members will be throughout their workout journey.

At Regymen, the heart rate tracker is introduced at the beginning of the process for any new member. “Every prospect wears a heart rate monitor — it’s part of the intro workout,” said Navan. “This is essential, as we can give people a better understanding of their baseline fitness level, how fast they recover and what types of changes to expect over the next month of their journey.”

Following this initial workout, the trainer and member will look at the results and compare it to the member’s workout goals. From there, the member is given a point system for workouts, specific heart rate ranges to aim for and instruction on watching their heart rate during recovery.

BLAST uses the KORR Medical Cardio Coach to measure new prospects’ fitness levels, which they evaluate in conjunction with prospects’ desired results.

“We measure our clients’ personal anaerobic threshold, customize their heart rate zones and measure their VO2 Max,” explained Sexton. “We then use these numbers to create their profile in FitMetrix, which we utilize in-studio to help coach clients on maintaining their target output and intensity for that day.”

After that initial evaluation, the tech does the rest. “Once they walk into the studio for class, our hardware picks their heart rate monitor up and automatically displays it on the screens for that class,” said Sexton. “All they have to do is show up and sweat.”  

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Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine. He can be reached at bobby@peakemedia.com.

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