(Editors' Note: This article is part of Club Industry's report, "Trends That Will Affect the Fitness Industry in 2019," sponsored by Myzone. You can download this report for free by going here.)
At the end of 2018, ACSM’s Health and Fitness journal released its top fitness trends for 2019. It wasn’t a surprise when wearables trumped other trends for the top spot for 2019, with group training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) following in second and third place. In 2016 and 2017, wearable technology took the top spot for trends, but before then, it hadn’t ever ranked on the report. This just shows that technology is helping to drive the enthusiasm of users within facilities, and more operators should be in tune with this offering.
From fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices to apps downloadable on smartphones, tablets, watches, etc., the way in which users work out is constantly evolving. Are wearables a fad or are they here to stay?
Technology is a must-have today, and it surrounds people in all aspects of their daily lives. More and more people are using wearables, whether that be for everyday use to help monitor heart rate and other daily health metrics, to motivate their physical activity, or to help deliver faster, more measurable results. Regardless of why people are using wearables, the fact is that this type of technology has become a dominant factor within the fitness industry.
The biggest challenge the industry faces with wearables is how to continually engage members using the wearable so that the wearable does not end up sitting on a shelf after a few months of use never to be dusted off until the next January. Wearable technology, such as Apple Health, has helped break down barriers by allowing wearables to be accessible rather than just having a high-ticket price. But how do operators capitalize on this to help make potential or existing users take that step to regular activity?
Operators need to look at their strategy, and if wearables are not part of that, then they may get left behind. Wearables are extremely accessible and workable for clubs, and with key industry designed wearable solutions, operators can certainly take full advantage. A lot of operators tend to find barriers from their teams when looking to implement a wearable strategy, but the key is to ensure the solution fits the facility, the ethos and the overall community. Work out what you want wearables to do for your club. However, implementing a system just to fill a gap is not a long-term strategy, but rather it is simply a reactive response, which as we know is usually short lived.
The key to success behind wearables in the facility is to create attention around them. It is one thing for club owners to implement the strategy of wearables into their facility, and it is another thing for owners to change the dynamic of their club to be centered around the wearable. For example, offering group classes, teaching trainers to instruct around the device, or hosting facility-wide competitions to see who can earn the best metrics, encourages motivation and requires members to physically engage with the product, highlighting the idea that the wearable is more than just a simple product.
It is important to incorporate wearables into the whole structure of the club so that they eventually become a mindset for members that they can’t work out without. It is up to club owners to see the potential that lies within wearables and help change their club for the better. Wearables are not going away, so embrace the, and invest in time to find the best solution as you move through 2019.
Gemma Bonnett-Kolakowska is global marketing director at Myzone. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the fitness industry having worked both as an operator and for the past six years in the commercial supplier market. Bonnett-Kolakowska previously worked for Matrix Fitness as the director of strategic marketing EMEA and in 2017 moved to Myzone where she has led the company’s rebrand. She forms part of the senior team developing the product offering and positioning Myzone as the go-to wearable heart rate solution for the industry. For more information visit https://myzone.org, or email [email protected].