How Are Fitness Professionals Using Technology ? The 2014 FITC Report Shows How

 

In May of 2014 nearly 700 fitness professionals who included group fitness instructors and personal trainers answered 14 questions about their use of technology. The survey and its related report were prepared by the Fitness Industry Technology Council , which is comprised of some of the leading organizations in the space including among others Intel, the American Council on Exercise, Star Trac Fitness, Club Apps, Garmin and many others. The council has a mission of increasing collaboration to enhance user experience in the industry.

The report and its findings evidence that the fitness industry is increasingly relying on technology and that professionals are using these technologies in delivering and marketing their fitness services.

 

Take a look at the report and tell me, Bryan O'Rourke, what do you think ? We'd love you to become a part of the Fitness Industry Technology Council where we are working on the future of the fitness industry.

About Bryan

Bryan O’Rourke is a thought leader on technology, health club, consumer and wellness trends. He has been quoted in global periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Inc. Magazine, and has been published in journals around the world on his views of how technology will create the dawn of a new era of opportunity for the health club and fitness industries. In addition to being an industry expert, Bryan is a technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He has spoken on a range of business and trend topics on four continents. As a contract executive and advisor, Bryan wears many hats, including working for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 800 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank, on ACE's Industry Advisory Panel and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org . To learn more contact Bryan here today .

Can't We All Just Get Along ? The Need For Collaboration And Transparency Continues

If you read my posts (thanks if you do) I am certain you might get a little tired of the terms “collaboration” and “transparency”. However, the truth is technology is democratizing much of the world; this is a reality everyone should ponder. You just can’t hide anymore and this fact is very hard for some people to accept. What is even more challenging a notion is that competitive collaboration can lead to more fruitful innovations which is unquestionable and done every day in other industries but for some to get their minds around that idea is like asking them to jump off a high rise in the belief they won't be harmed (remember the matrix video?). In reflecting on some events last week, I had to ponder these subjects myself because of what happened, again. You see it is apparent to me thata lack of transparency and a failure to collaborate are some of the biggest challenges our industry faces. Its getting back to the scacity thinking again snd please bare with me while I explain.

In a few of my networks last week I shared that Johnson Health Tech, which manufactures the Matrix Fitness brand, is recalling Matrix Fitness trainers and ellipticals that pose a fire hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall on January 23, 2014.. About 2,800 Ascent Trainers by Matrix and Matrix Fitness elliptical units that were installed from November 2011 through December 2012 are being recalled.

As Club Industry reported and tweeted , this is the second product recall pertaining to the fitness industry that the CPSC has announced this month. Cybex International is recalling 234 Olympic decline free weight benches manufactured from December 2008 to September 2013.

What was interesting were several emails I got from a few people who found my tweeting the recall and sharing it on Linkedin “distasteful”, “tacky”, reflecting a “lack of credibility”, being “negative” and “undermining the industry” .  Are you kiding me ? You might only imagine the origin of some of these emails. By the way, this information was being shared all over the Internet by others and I did not in any way twist the facts or share a particular view on it. I'm not being defensive when I say that many of our customers and industry friends rely on me sharing pertinent industry information, which I try to do. Do some people really believe that tweeting (sharing) public information about an equipment recall is somehow undermining a global brand like Matrix ? Or is the sensitivity a sign of something else ? I think its the later. Give me a break.

Before I get into this subject and In the interest of full disclosure (again to transparency) our organizations have happily done work for  and with Star Trac, Schwinn, Stairmaster and Mr. Michael Bruno with whom we have a wonderful relationship. We also advise and sell other equipment, programs like Les Mills, services and technologies. We work with some of the leading bricks and mortar health club brands in the for profit and non-profit club business among doing many other things. I guess any of these various players could see each other as competitors but we try to be as transparent as we can keeping the big picture in mind. Most people who know me, follow me and read my work would think we are pretty transparent (I hope). I don’t think you couldn’t know what I am doing or where I am on any given day and we don’t try and hide it. If you disagree please let me know.

What the emails and comments I received regarding the Matrix Fitness story did reflect is something I’ve noticed over the years in the health club and fitness industry in general. Its called a scarcity attitude. Of course there will always be a bit of strain and stress in any marketplace and not everyone is going to like you. Robert Dyer and I laughingly say that many of the organizations and professionals we speak with before they get to know us keep waiting for the “hook”, but there is no hook when it comes to us. I don’t think some people believe that though because of other experiences they have, like my emails they are accustomed to a lack of collaboration and scarcity thinking.

I replied to the emails regarding the Matrix recall and asked the folks who did write to call me so we could talk. No one has taken me up on it as of this writing. In the world of transparency its important to be transparent. But there are many who probably didn’t write but might have felt the same way and this is what I want to address. You'll note I did not name names because that would not have been fair.

This attitude of distrust, of short term competitive advantage, of one over another is damaging the fitness and particularly the health club industry. It is a major contributor to why the industry has not collaborated on shared technological development in DECADES for example and its this short term view that could be our undoing. We’ve got to help each other but by working on constructive solutions . I was privy to the behind closed door discussions and negativity put forth by various competitors during the turnaround of Star Trac as Michael Bruno rescued the business; all designed for competitive gain. I’ve seen it happen to others as well. My reputation has been attacked by some leading professionals in the space as well behind closed doors and sometimes not. Like they say, "haters are going to hate." Anytime anyone is leading change its what you’d expect but instead of letting that be the bottom line we need others to stand up and show another way, to fill the void.

This is why I am involved with a number of other leaders in the Fitness Industry Technology Council. We need to create a forum to advance the supply and delivery side of the industry given the rate of technological change. Its why I am thankful to participate with ACE’s Industry Advisory Panel as well as the other organizations like IHRSA and their Public Policy Council where we try and help.

We’ve great respect for almost every major player in the industry including our friend Michael Bruno, Star Trac, Stairmaster, Schwinn, Johnson Health Tech’s Matrix, Cybex, Precor, Life Fitness and Technogym among many others. Believe me, tweeting about the Matrix recall was not done to damage Matrix. But in an age of transparency and with the realization that the biggest threat is not each other but our failure to collaborate I ask that you read some of my other blog posts and content and see my intention is to bring people together to identify a changing world and marketplace and collaborate around the future. Failing to do so will only lead to missed opportunities for us all.

So tell me, should I be more transparent and how ? Should I not tweet anything about any supplier in the industry if it touches upon a challenge they are having ? Would that make me better, less transparent ? Please share your views with me and thanks for taking time to read the post.

About Bryan

Bryan O’Rourke is considered by many to be a thought leader on technology, health club, consumer and wellness trends. He has been quoted in periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, and has been published in journals around the world on his views of how technology will create the dawn of a new era of opportunity for the health club and fitness industries. In addition to being an industry expert, Bryan is a keynote speaker, technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several companies. He has spoken on a range of business and trend topics on four continents. As a contract executive and advisor, Bryan wears many hats, including working for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 750 facilities in the US. He serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank, sites on ACE's Industry Advisory Panel and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org . To learn more contact Bryan here

FIT-C Releases The 2014 US Health Club Technology Survey Report

A survey on technology that included 746 U.S. based health clubs was conducted at the end of 2013. The survey report was just published by the Fitness Industry Technology Council (Fit-C). The 2014 U.S. Health Club Technology Survey Report possed 14 questions on technology adoption to owners and managers of health clubs.

The results were very interesting. You can obtain a copy for free here and the survey infographic here. Social media adoption, for example, as a key vehicle for marketing and advertising is widespread in U.S. clubs according to the survey results. 97% of all health clubs surveyed indicated that they have a Facebook page and social media and websites are the top 2 marketing and advertising vehicles clubs use today.

While social media is widely used for promotion and advertising, only 30% of clubs enable prospects to join online and a mere 39% provide online account management to members. Today 61% of global consumers prefer to shop in an omni-channel, self-service and automated way according to Cisco’s Customer Experience Report.  According to recent Forrester Research, organizations will differentiate themselves  by delivering consistent and customizable customer experiences digitally. A clear opportunity in online service exists in the Club market.

Finally, while the report addresses a number of adoption trends, two survey questions stood out. First, 62% of surveyed clubs say costs are blocking wider technology adoption. We expect technology costs to continue to decline and therefore believe adoption of technologies will expand significantly going forward. Second, only a third of respondents believe interoperability is important. We now know that nearly 60% of members come to the gym with devices and only a third of those devices connect with equipment. We also know that customers are expecting a more omni-channel experience and so connectivity among technologies is going to be essential to create a better experience. Interoperability is a key underlying mission of the Fitness Industry Technology Council because of this.We need to create standards to create connectivity among all brands of equipment, among other standards, to enable enhanced consumer experience in clubs.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your views. An increasingly competitive landscape from outside the traditional bricks and mortar health club industry is going to require brands to think about technology adoption and deployment around the customer to create better experiences. Do you agree ? Shouldn't we work together to make that possible ?

About Bryan

Bryan O’Rourke is considered by many to be a thought leader on technology, health club and wellness trends. He has been quoted in global periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, and has been published in journals around the world on his views of how technology will create the dawn of a new era of opportunity for the health club and fitness industries. In addition to being an industry expert, Bryan is a technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He has spoken on a range of business and trend topics on four continents. As a contract executive and advisor, Bryan wears many hats, including working for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 700 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank, on ACE's Industry Advisory Panel and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org . To learn more contact Bryan here today .

Why Technology Standards Matter: The FIT-C Technology Report 2014

Its all about the customer. When industries fail to follow this single principal they can get in big trouble. Think back to Napster and what Sony records could have done. Instead they sued the platform into bankruptcy and later suffered hugely as the idea of digital music platforms, via iTunes, blew their business model apart. Who remembers the old adage, "you can win the battle but lose the war?"

Conversely, when the federal government decided to allow "garbage frequencies" to be used unlicensed, NCR went to its engineers and asked them to create standards. Wi-Fi was originally going to be used by NCR to connect cash registers. The rest is history (see the recap here) as Wi-Fi created a surge of mobile networked devices. Wi-Fi shows that agreeing on a common standard can create a market. This is an important concept for the health club and fitness industry to grasp.

Standards can help grow the pie by enabling more consumer friendly interactions across equipment, lowering investment costs of competing proprietary solutions and driving more innovation. Today in the fitness industry there is only one technology standard, C-Safe, a protocol developed by a group of competitors which has not been updated in nearly 10 years. Since that time smart phones, Wi-Fi connectivity and tracking devices have exploded. Do these devices work with most equipment seamlessly ? No. Can a user easily interact among their tracking devices, smart phones and health club brands and equipment? No. This is a problem and big opportunity. If the health club industry wants to avoid the path the record business has gone down the last decade they best start collaborating around standards.

Creating technology standards is why FIT-C exists and it is the purpose for creating a survey and report on club technology trends. Fit-C is trying to raise awareness regarding the need for these standards. Please take the survey if you are able to and be on the lookout for the report, scheduled to be published in early January 2014. Here is a recent story from IHRSA about the report. Users expect easy to use technology and as an industry we need to provide it to them.

See my interview below with Paul from Dynastream as we discuss Fit-C. Join Fit-C today and become a part of the #FutureOfFitness . By the way, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for your support.

Bryan O'rourke And Paul Lockington Interview-11 from Bryan ORourke on Vimeo.

About Bryan

Bryan O’Rourke is considered by many to be a thought leaders on technology, health club and wellness trends. He has been quoted in periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, and has been published in journals around the world on his views of how technology will create the dawn of a new era of opportunity for the health club and fitness industries. In addition to being an industry expert, Bryan is a technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He has spoken on a range of business and trend topics on four continents. As a contract executive and advisor, Bryan wears many hats, including working for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 700 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank, on ACE's Industry Advisory Panel and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org . To learn more contact Bryan here today .

 

 

The Future Health Club Industry - Club Industry 2012 Roundtable

It was an honor to have three important health club industry leaders agree to participate in the Club Industry 2012 roundtable: The Influence of Technology - A Glimpse at Tomorrow's Health Club . As shown above (from left to right), Kevin Laferriere CEO of FitPro, Chuck Runyon CEO of Anytime Fitness and Graham Melstrand VP at ACE, contributed to a standing room only crowd as they addressed 9 key questions about technology and the future of health clubs. Both FitPro and ACE are founding members of the Fitness Industry Technology Council as well.

There were many interesting and compelling responses to the 9 questions I presented to the panel  for their views. You can see a complete recap of the content with videos and a synopsis of the presentation and answers here (its embedded down below as well).

Let me know what you think about the presentation and content. I want to thank the leaders of Club Industry for including this important topic in the 2012 Club Industry Show. I also want to express my sincere gratitude for the panelist who went out of their way to share very important thoughts.

So what do you think about technology and the health club industry ? Do you agree or disagree about some of the answers to the 9 questions included in the content below ? I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm asking leaders in the health club and fitness industry to join the Fitness Industry Technology Council to help shape this promising future. The future is here and we need interoperability standards to enable our industry to reach its promise. Will you please join me ?

 

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, and shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He advises several successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank and serves as CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To learn more contact Bryan here today .