Apps can simplify self-promotion, motivate clients and provide crucial business data, all with the swipe of a fingertip. They can help time-starved fitness professionals squeeze more activities into an already busy schedule, take client interaction and customer service to a new level and set a business apart from the competition. However, the recent explosion in numbers of fitness apps can make finding and choosing the best apps for your business more confusing than ever.
Below is a list of notable apps (based on informal surveys and best-of lists) for fitness professionals looking to elevate their businesses with mobile technology.
The Health Mate app by Withings helps trainers and fitness professionals keep tabs on client stats and use the power of peer pressure to keep them on track. The app interacts with the Withings smart scales, activity tracker and wireless blood pressure cuff. It wirelessly transmits data to trainers, doctors, or family and friends. Health stats also can be tweeted from the app.
Some clients need accountability from family and friends to stay on track. If they know their weight will be tweeted to family on Monday, they might think harder about the choices they make over the weekend, explains Donyel Cerceo, director of marketing and communications for Merritt Athletic Clubs, Baltimore. She compares the philosophy behind the app to a Weight Watchers meeting, where peer pressure acts as motivation for weekly weigh-ins.
"It really depends on the client," Cerceo says. "Some clients say, 'I've tried everything and it doesn't work.' I think deep inside they know that accountability is really going to be most powerful."
In addition to sharing weight statistics, the Health Mate app tracks sleep, activity and blood pressure. The sharing feature helps trainers and doctors get a complete picture of a client's health and habits inside and outside the gym.
Endomondo is a mobile fitness app that enables users to set up a training schedule and receive automated reminders and motivation to complete each training session. Users also can share their activity and compete with others. The stats and workout-history features enable trainers to help clients interpret graphs and statistics that illustrate their progress over time.
Trainers at Merritt Athletic Clubs use this app to set up training schedules for clients who are away from the gym or traveling, Cerceo says. The trainer can create and send a workout to a client through Endomondo and receive notifications about how the client is performing.
Endomondo gives trainers the ability to help clients stick with workout schedules and gain motivation to keep coming back, Cerceo adds.
InstaQuote is a tool for creating professional-looking images with a text overlay. Users can choose from a variety of backgrounds within the app or choose an image from the photo gallery on the mobile device.
"I use it a lot in my sales process," says Leslie Ann Quillen, fitness director for Sportscenter Athletic Club and owner of LAQ Fitness, both in North Carolina. "When I am sitting across from a woman who is busy and doesn't have time to eat healthy, before she even walks out of the gym and whether she buys from me or not, I say 'Hold on, let me text you my favorite green smoothie recipe,'" Quillen says.
Quillen sends her potential client a text message with an InstaQuote image of her green smoothie recipe, complete with a watermark including her business name and contact information.
"She can have that on her phone when she goes grocery shopping, and it's a helpful reminder that I am here and a great resource for her," she says.
Quillen also uses InstaQuote to type short circuit training workouts to save on her phone and send to clients while they are away on business trips. If she is trying to sell a training package to busy clients, she will show them the circuit workout images to help them understand that they can be committed to a workout schedule while traveling. It reminds them that she will be there helping them every step of the way, she says.
Over helps users create artistic images and share them via social media. Over is similar to Instaquote, except it offers more artistic options and features for doctoring photos, Quillen says.
Over is helpful for creating inspirational images, food photos or lifestyle images to be used in self-promotion on social media sites. Professional-looking images help users create an impressive brand at a low cost.
"Quickly snap a photo, make it look really great, put some text on it and upload, so when it does get shared, everyone knows it's yours just by looking at it," Quillen says.
Pic Stitch is yet another photo app for fitness professionals, and it has a different purpose. The app enables users to quickly create photo collages from multiple images on a client's phone. This app is perfect for showing clients progress photos, Quillen says.
"Your clients will pretty much always bring their phones to the gym with them," she says. "Having them take photos is amazing. You can slide three or four photos into each other."
The app also enables users to add text, such as the date and time a photo was taken, so clients can track progress over time and share their own results via text message or social media.
Health clubs or management companies looking for a more complete mobile wellness solution might consider the H2 Wellness platform. H2 is a scalable health and fitness platform that can be leveraged by health and fitness professionals to keep tabs on a wide array of clients' health stats and communications.
H2 enables users to customize a platform from modules that include assessments and diagnostics, health and lifestyle, coaching, communications, eCommerce, tracking tools, administrative, records and reporting, and integrated devices.
H2 is one of four large-scale customer feedback and wellness platform solutions that L&T Health and Fitness, Falls Church, VA, is considering, says Gail Fast, vice president of L&T Health and Fitness, which manages health and fitness facilities for private corporations, insurance providers and government entities.
"It provides us with some data and some tools for reporting that are valuable to the client," Fast says. "Obviously, it would be valuable to the club owner being able to report back that we had X number of people participate and how many pounds were lost."
The H2 Wellness platform helps facilities see data for all users in one interface and track progress of groups of exercises as a whole.