Technology Council Revives under New Leadership


The Fitness Industry Technology Council, an idea that began two years ago to bring together health club and manufacturing companies to create a set of industry measurement standards, has new leadership.

Bryan O’Rourke, industry consultant and CEO of Integerus, is the president of what is now known as FIT-C. The council is comprised of organizations and professionals within the fitness industry who seek to develop standards around the measurement and transport of fitness performance data, such as calorie expenditure. The standards would apply to treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes, among other equipment.

The founding members of the new FIT-C, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, are Integerus, Intel, American Council on Exercise, Athletes’ Performance, ClubCom, Club Performance, Dynastream Innovations, FitLinxx, Polar, Precor and True Fitness. O’Rourke expects more companies to join.

“We have been actively working and talking with club operators around the world,” O’Rourke says. “This is a global organization. Everyone that’s involved in the business is being touched by technology. If we’re going to grow the pie, we all need to work together under a common set of standards so that the consumer is a beneficiary and it grows our business.”

Three of FIT-C’s founding members—Athletes’ Performance, ClubCom and Intel—were on the original council. One difference with the new FIT-C is the arrival of management firm Virtual Inc., which has formed a partnership with the council.

“FIT-C is all about building a higher level of trust in the performance data that is reported out by the machines,” Virtual’s Greg Kohn said in a statement. “Once manufacturers begin to certify that their machines comply with the FIT-C standards, exercisers and the wellness providers that support them can be confident after a workout that they really burned the number of calories the machine said they did.”

Kevin Steele, an industry consultant and principal at Communication Consultants WBS Inc., was the co-creator and co-chair of the original council, whose roots go back to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) show in 2010. The council held a meeting at Club Industry 2010 and conducted a panel session before attendees at the IHRSA show in 2011.

After that show, the council began to lose support. Only a handful of companies with the council met at Club Industry 2011.

Although Steele’s term with the council expired in March 2011, he says he’s been willing to offer advice, and that offer applies to the new FIT-C.

“I think Bryan is a very capable guy,” Steele says. “He’s definitely more knowledgeable about technology than me. He’s relatively new to the industry, so he brings an outside perspective, which could be helpful. Over the last three or four years, he’s developed a lot of pretty solid relationships in the industry. I think he’ll do a good job as the president of the organization.”

O’Rourke says Steele’s spirit and ideas behind the formation of the original council will carry on in FIT-C.

“It’s a natural extension of its foundation,” O’Rourke says. “It’s going through a process. It’s going from conceptualization to actualization. It’s starting to create some real-world standards that people can adopt. Now we’re moving into the phase of, ‘How do we get it done?’”

O’Rourke will moderate a roundtable discussion on technology that will take place on Friday, Oct. 12, at Club Industry 2012 in Las Vegas.

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