Wearables: The Next Wave in Club Technology
When the first wearables and smartwatches hit the market in the early 2000s, the world sat up and took notice. Many predicted these small devices had the potential to change the way we all interacted with and used technology in our daily lives.
They were right, and no industry has felt the impact of wearable technology more than the world of fitness. Yet, despite their disruptive power, these devices have remained in a “supporting role” for years: the trusty sidekick to the main attraction of mobile apps.
When digital fitness boomed, it was mobile app development that led the charge, offering tech solutions for everything from sleep and meal tracking to fitness and habit coaching. Today, with more than 30,000 apps available for download, nearly one in five Americans actively use an app to improve their health and fitness. It’s no wonder consumers see their phones as tools to help improve their well-being while wearables are relegated to the role of glorified pedometers — until now.
Today, fitness wearables (and the apps that integrate with them) are stepping into the limelight, propelled by advances in engineering and situational factors like the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first quarter of 2020, global smartwatch shipments grew 20%, while the second quarter of 2020 saw more than 42 million smartwatches shipped in the first six months of the year, half of which were Apple Watches.
Why the boost? A change in consumer behavior and routines. While mobile apps fit nicely into pre-COVID regimens, people are spending more time at home with less structure to their days, so consumers now also need devices that fit seamlessly into an unstructured lifestyle.
Consider this: what used to be a typical day of getting ready for work, commuting to the office, taking a lunch break and hitting the gym on the way home has, for many, been replaced with getting up, turning on a computer and sitting in one place for eight hours — with occasional trips to the kitchen for snacks. In the former, our phones went everywhere with us, but in the latter, they’re likely sitting on a desk or plugged into a charger.
So are mobile apps over? No — not by a longshot. Wearables though, thanks to their convenient form-factor, offer an ever-present venue for consumers to prioritize their health and fitness. They strap it on in the morning, and throughout the day they’re gently guided and reminded to make good.
What this means for fitness clubs is that in today’s world, to stay relevant and connected to their members, fitness enthusiasts and consumers in general, clubs need to invest in not just mobile technology, but mobile technology that includes wearable integrations and apps.
While mobile apps will continue to play a role in engaging members both in and outside the club, wearables are ready to step out of the wings and into the leading role. As a result, clubs should seek solutions that include both a phone and wearable experience so they can engage their members and deliver services remotely in a way that works with their members’ lifestyles, no matter what that looks like or where the world takes them next.