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Laila Zemrani Photo by Pamela Kufahl.
Laila Zemrani, CEO of FitnesCity, operates a data-driven personal training service. She spoke at the Club Industry Show on Oct. 24 about the Quantified Self movement and the opportunity in it for health clubs.

You Will Soon Need a Data Scientist on Your Health Club Staff

The Quantified Self movement is growing, and in that is an opportunity for additional services and revenue for health club operators but also the need for data scientists to help capture that opportunity.

“In the next 10 years, most clubs will have a data scientist on staff,” said Laila Zemrani, co-founder and CEO of Fitnescity. “It may sound just as crazy as saying 10 years ago that you would have a social media person on staff.”

Zemrani may be ahead of the curve. Her company is a data-driven boutique personal training studio in person as well as online. Data is vital to what her staff and business do.

But with growth in popularity of DNA testing that can determine heritage as well as health issues, the continued evolution of wearables (and the decrease in their prices) and new assessment testing being introduced, the data being collected on people is exploding. How to use that data to help people with their fitness and wellbeing is something that more health club operators will need to figure out soon, she said in her presentation, “What Health Clubs Can Learn from the Quantified Self Movement,” on Oct. 24 at the Club Industry Show in Chicago.

The Quantified Self movement is something more people will hear about if they haven’t already, she said. It’s a movement in which people gather lifestyle knowledge and data on themselves with the goal of improving their wellbeing.  

“It used to be that the only place you found out about your health was at the doctor, and that was once per year,” Zemrani said. “People want a more continuous view of their health.”

That’s why she proposed that quantifying the everyday training experience is a path more club operators needs to consider. The data collected holds promise for creating personalized fitness and wellness. She spoke about how using data from various sources—tracking devices, assessments and measurements, family history and personal genome sequences can be helpful to trainers and clubs to provide individualized recommendations to clients and members.

All of this will lead to more personalized fitness. She asked the audience to imagine a future where you would wake up in the morning and look at a “dashboard” of sorts that will offer recommendations on what you should eat and what exercise you should do that day based on what you ate yesterday, how well you slept during the night, what you have on your calendar for that day and other factors.

The next stage will be biohacking—an effort to “hack” your body like you would a computer—tweaking it in some way, such as with a different diet—to improve your health and performance, she said.

This evolution is an opportunity for the fitness industry, but it will require someone on staff who can collect it, help manage it, recommend third-party vendors to partner with and be the data scientist that can move clubs that take on this opportunity into the lead. Zemrani is already on her way there.

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