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(Editors' Note: This article is part of Club Industry's report, "Technology's Role in the Future of the Fitness Industry," which can be downloaded for free by going here.)
Following is a Q&A with Brian O’Leary of Jonas Fitness on the effects that technology has had on the fitness industry, the perils for the industry and which technologies to watch for in the coming years.
Q: Which technologies have affected the fitness industry the most in the past two years, and how have they affected the industry?
Brian O’Leary: The technologies that I feel have become the most influential are the ones that connect the member, through their digital devices, to health club services and communities and to the member’s own personal digital health profile. These technologies range from relatively simple mobile apps that can be customized to mirror the club’s brand and services, to equipment-based technologies that recognize and track member workouts, to very sophisticated population health and digital coaching platforms that are focused on the very difficult but necessary components of behavior modification. The net of these technologies has been to help grow the industry by making the information that was traditionally only available in a health club more accessible and personal. The impact of the digital coaching technologies has been to bring closer the eventual merger of the hospital and medical-based fitness communities with those of main stream fitness—thus expanding the market.
Q: What are the biggest perils with technology adoption in the fitness industry?
O’Leary: In the connected age, one of the primary concerns has to be security. Our phones are becoming the central access point for our most important and personal health, medical and financial information. “With great power comes great responsibility.” – Peter Parker
Q: What are the best ways for health club operators to use technology to engage their members?
O’Leary: Take advantage of the wealth of customizable mobile technology and apps that are available to connect the member to your brand and the services that you provide.
Q: Which technologies will make big impacts in the fitness industry during the next five years and how will they affect the industry?
O’Leary: Artificial intelligence (AI) will be the biggest influencer in our industry during the next five years. As the internet of things enables more data to be captured and analyzed, our devices and environments will ultimately become more responsive and interactive. This interaction will allow us—perhaps even prompt us—to make better decisions about diet, exercise, rest and the entire wellness continuum. Health clubs will become a more natural and safer choice for more individuals seeking to fulfill their health and wellness prescription.
Q: Does the fitness industry need to create standards? Why or why not?
O’Leary: Of course we do. The big picture here is that we have an obligation to help people improve their lives. It is a trust that we must secure by making sure that our practices and technologies meet a standard of excellence that honors the goals and privacy of each member. That doesn’t happen by accident.
Brian O’Leary is the director of strategic accounts and channel partnerships at Jonas Fitness. With 30 years of industry experience, O’Leary manages and develops the growing array of best-in-class channel partners that comprise the Jonas Ecosystem. Jonas connects its customers to the best technology and services in the marketplace by seamlessly integrating its industry leading member management and billing platform with a growing mix of partner companies. The result is a value-rich, bespoke solution that delivers extensible functionality, efficiency and ease of use. To learn why Jonas Fitness has long been the trusted partner of the largest and most successful operators in the industry, visit http://jonasfitness.com/.