Content brought to you by Virtual Health Partners.
(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.)
In this Q&A with Jillian Bridgette Cohen, CEO and co-founder of Virtual Health Partners, she shares her thoughts about which technologies have affected the industry the most and which ones will do so in the future.
Q: Which technologies have affected the fitness industry the most in the past two years, and how have they affected the industry?
Jillian Bridgette Cohen: I believe the technologies that have affected the fitness industry the most in the past two years are the offerings of on-demand workouts and the live streaming of classes into people’s homes. This has truly revolutionized how people want to work out and the overall industry. I think that the continued growing need to have technology that can incorporate one’s overall wellness, personal schedule and interactions with the medical community in a true ecosphere of care will be at the forefront over the next few years. The ability to have live classes, plus one-on-one care that is connected with both one’s health care and fitness provider will enable an entire new line of business. A technology that can merge live, 24/7 on-demand fitness, lifestyle modification and nutrition support with health providers in a customized manner will make those companies that offer it to their clients the leaders in the fitness industry.
Q: What are the biggest perils with technology adoption in the fitness industry?
Cohen: The biggest perils that I see with the adoption of technology in the fitness industry is for the individual fitness studio, gym or company’s need to reach members outside of their current membership and to maintain current members outside of their standard brick and mortar offering. Many technologies currently available focus on one offering. People do not want to do only one type of workout nor do they want to have to use 10+ apps to access their full wellness care. Integration on a single platform that can offer multiple types of workouts, live interactions, brand extension and ease of use are key to expanding the use of technology. I also believe that privacy is a growing factor, and technology needs to be built to protect one’s privacy. This is especially essential if the fitness industry wishes to work more closely with the medical community.
Q: What are the best ways for health club operators to use technology to engage their members?
Cohen: There are numerous invaluable ways technology can be used to engage members for health club operators. The offering of live classes and a media library filled with both fitness and wellness videos enables a health club to expand outside of its brick and mortar location. A health club can work with members while they are traveling for business or attract new members who are outside of their current radius. It also enables health clubs to offer new line extensions that can generate revenue without any additional overhead. Such line extensions can be the offering of live, virtual nutritional counseling or trainers from the health club doing virtual live one-on-one training sessions. Lastly, technology can also enable a new referral network from the medical community, as the health providers are able to track a mutual client’s progression with exercise and nutrition through a shared platform with a health club. The above opportunities enable health club operators to reach a greater number of individuals (more than the 12 to 18 percent that have memberships today) without increasing their overhead or physical footprint and grow their brand(s) organically.
Q: Which technologies will make big impacts in the fitness industry during the next five years and how will they affect the industry?
Cohen: Technologies that are privacy secure, which can interact with the medical community and provide more than one vertical of service will make the greatest impact both from a monetary and customer satisfaction perspective. The early adopters of integrated programs will end up becoming the true leaders in the fitness industry, setting themselves apart from single vertical clubs and brands.
Q: Does the fitness industry need to create standards? Why or why not?
Cohen: I think that the fitness industry needs to ensure that all of the operators who implement technology offerings ensure that those offerings are built to offer the members privacy protection. A standard set of requirements, such as cloud compliance and privacy protection, similar to secure payment systems, will end up being a demand of the public, even if the industry does not implement such requirements. The industry could be a leader in privacy protection by creating a list of standards similar to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act) or GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe. Such standards will be necessary to truly integrate and receive referrals from the medical community.
Jillian Bridgette Cohen is CEO and co-founder of Virtual Health Partners. She can be reached at (201) 303-0533 or by email at [email protected]. Find out more by going to the company’s website: www.virtualhealthpartners.com