Why Fitness Facilities Need to Care About the Quantified Self and Internet of Things
Digital technology isn’t always easy to understand, and it moves so quickly that sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Fitness facility owners and managers don’t have to be experts when it comes to digital, but it’s a good idea to know the basics. As exercisers become savvy with digital technology, they expect the same from their health clubs.
What is the Quantified Self and Why Does it Matter?
At its core the Quantified Self is a movement that employs technology to collect data about a person’s daily life and uses that information to improve overall wellbeing. The idea burst into fitness with the advent of wearable tracking devices like Fitbits and fitness apps.
“As a club owner, you think about how to help people along the journey after learning more about their activity,” said Amad Amin, product director for digital experience at Life Fitness. “Clubs can say, ‘here’s what your data means and here’s how we can use it to set up fitness goals.’ It’s about understanding the exerciser more—understanding their schedule, understanding their workouts away from the gym. Clubs can help members figure what to do so they don’t have to do the thinking. The club can just say ‘here’s your personalized workout’.”
Wearable tracking devices have educated exercisers about their level of activity and have helped them ask questions about what that level actually means to get more from their workouts. The Life Fitness LFconnect ecosystem seamlessly syncs devices to cardio equipment. This allows a club owner to connect with members in ways not possible even just a few years ago.
“With the rapid evolution of wearable tech and smart watches, a large population of consumers is routinely collecting and becoming more conscious of health and fitness data,” explained Leon Rudge, the digital experience director for Life Fitness in Europe. “This is hugely important to club owners as it’s a great way to connect, communicate and advertise to new members. It’s also a great way to connect with the 54% of members that are already interacting with an app or device.”
How the Internet of Things Affects Health Clubs
At the basic level, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the ability to connect electronic devices to the internet, which allows for the transfer of data and information. Essentially, it allows the Quantified Self to thrive and it applies to nearly everything in the fitness facility.
IoT exists in everyday aspects of life like the Nest thermostat, which can be controlled by a smartphone; or Alexa devices, which enable you to do a wide range of things like play music, check the weather, and, of course, order from Amazon with simple voice commands.
“The reason why Alexa is popular is not because you get to speak to it, it’s that it speaks to the Amazon platform,” explained Amin. “Fitness facilities should start thinking about the applications they see every day and how software is automating previously manual processes. We want to automate things that were once manual.”
This applies to fitness equipment in a big way. Not that long ago, facilities had to manually download information from each piece of cardio equipment if they wanted to get member usage data. And managers wouldn’t know if a treadmill or cross-trainer wasn’t working properly unless a member told them.
Now, when equipment is connected to the internet it’s easy to see use information, change settings, update software, etc. in one centralized location online. The LFconnect Heat Map is a good example. It illustrates detailed use information across an entire cardio area and lets facilities plan layouts, future equipment purchases and even guides staffing decisions.
The LFconnect Heat Map provides detailed use information.
Another example is a feature like LFconnect Protect proactive service, which allows equipment to be monitored remotely by service professionals at Life Fitness. Unusual drops in use and other alerts allow for problems to be corrected before a facility even knows they exist. Both the Heat Map and LFconnect Protect are possible because of connection and the Internet of Things.
“Connection solves pain points for owners and allows them to run their facilities better,” said Amin. “We’re trying to take away the manual steps. I think about it as reducing the steps it takes to do a job right.”
Added Rudge: “IoT provides a great opportunity to create intelligent and personal experiences for members. IoT has an incredible data exhaust allowing club owners to test and track new and existing services and streamline their current business processes. There really hasn’t been a better time in history for business to be able to operate in such an evidenced way. IoT helps negate risk.”