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Customer loyalty is arguably the most important factor in business today, especially as greater loyalty to a brand often equates to higher retention. So it’s no surprise that health club operators seek new opportunities to increase loyalty, and some of them are turning to technology to do so, in particular, wearable technology. When members feel that the club is invested in them by making wearable an integral part of group classes and personal training sessions, they become more invested in the club.
Joe Casalese, director of fitness at MVP Sports Clubs, is a believer in the benefits of technology for retention, noting an uptick in retention since the implementation of wearable use at his club.
“Helping members create healthy habits is one way to create loyalty," he said. "When the benefits are right in front of you on a screen in the form of calories burned or heart rate, any given member is more likely to continue.”
Each member’s information is tracked through the wearables, and his club can see how many times they check in, what classes they are attending and how many steps they take outside the gym.
"Wearables keep them engaged even when they aren’t in the club,” Casalese said.
The data gleaned from wearables, if shared with club operators, can help clubs identify and help members who are at risk of leaving, by sharing motivational training tips, discount offers, a free personal training session or consultation, and other offers to get them back on track. The data also can identify members who are more inclined to buy personal training packages and refer friends.
Tom Bohlin, a fitness studio manager in Hackensack, New Jersey, agreed that wearables keep members loyal. At his club, members are required to wear the devices during classes. The club sells wearables, but members can rent them if they prefer. However, the better deal in the long run is to buy the wearable, he said.
"When they spend money on the devices, they are more likely to continue to make it worth their while,” he said.
Wearables help with accountability, too.
“Our members love using wearables because it's a great accountability tool for them while they're working out to maximize their workout," said Marvin Santiago, area manager of Orangetheory Fitness locations in New Jersey. "We promote them getting 12-20 minutes in the orange zone (which is about 85 percent of their own max heart rate) when indicated by our coaches. They are able to see their stats on big screens right in front of them.”
By knowing exactly what their heart rate is throughout the workout and what “zone” they are in, members can further benefit from their workouts through the physiological process of EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption). In other words, they can burn additional calories via the “after burn” beyond what they burned at the gym.
Santiago said the EPOC that members experience after a workout using wearables is another way to keep members loyal.
“Simply knowing they will be burning additional calories the following day and a half to come, gives our members an awesome sense of accomplishment that keeps them coming back for more," he said. "We take the guess work out of finding out whether they had a great workout because the numbers don’t lie. As long as members see the benefit of having a wearable that directly positively impacts the workout experience, I believe these tools drastically improve customer loyalty.”
Trainers Have a Role to Play
When it comes to getting the best results and the greatest loyalty from members, trainers play an important role in introducing and monitoring members’ use of technology, and ultimately, the club’s retention. Although we live in a technology-based world, some members may feel reluctant to start using wearable technology.
“While not every club requires the use of wearables, many have specific classes that require them, and many of these classes are so popular they are on a first-come, first-serve basis," Bohlin said. "People want to see their numbers, they want that image of progress and performance on the screen in front of them. Classes that require wearables are the only way they will get that.”
Personal trainers can guide members into the technology and show them how easy they are to use and the capabilities they offer, giving members the confidence to use the technology on their own. Trainers that keep track and monitor their clients’ numbers can provide feedback, help members set goals and give continuous encouragement.
Erin McGaw, marketing manager at Power Train, says her members see results thanks to feedback and encouragement from the club’s instructors.
“Power Train’s personalized boot camp classes in conjunction with using heart-rate monitors allow the fitness instructor to ensure each client is staying in their targeted heart-rate zone to maximize their results," she said. "If a client goes above or below their target heart-rate, the instructor will work directly with the client to get them back in their zone. We’ve discovered our clients’ energy feeds off of Power Train’s motivated fitness instructor and the TV screens, which display their heart-rate and calories burned. Our retention is at a high because our clients love the results they are getting from our heart-rate based boot camp classes."
Whether members check their stats on the screen at the gym or on their smartphone, or whether they are simply reminded of their fitness goals when they look down at the wearable on their wrist, more members now expect technology as part of their club experience, and the payoffs are that wearables help members reach their fitness goals faster, which creates a loyalty to their club and improved retention rates.
Polar Club offers a unique fitness solution for club owners, instructors, personal trainers and, above all, club members. It brings together the benefits of heart rate training and individual guidance, along with the motivation and energy you get from group exercise. For more information regarding Polar Club and how it can benefit your club, please contact Stephen Kopshaw at (516) 532-3135.