The Revolution Of Bricks And Mortar Fitness - The Future Of Health Clubs Is Emerging

 

This Thursday January 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm EST I'll be sharing a preview of my 2014 presentation at IHRSA this year during a FREE IHRSA webinar (hope you will attend). The future health club is going to emerge soon and to understand what it might look like we only have to consider what is happening in retail. Be it Starbucks generating 10% of its total transactions now via its mobile app, or Apple eliminating the check out counter in its stores via its adoption of mobile check outs, technology is being applied to improve service and deliver customized experiences that bridge the divide between the digital and physical worlds while making customers much happier. As the future emerges business models that do this well will be the ones that will succeed because they are redesigning their models to address the new customer, one relying on mobile technology and one having all of the power.

Cisco’s Inernet Business Solutions Group study found that a majority of consumers have advanced beyond the capabilities of most retailers and this is true for most health club operators as well in my opinion. Cisco’s Customer Experience Report documents that consumers prefer more automated and personalized digital buying experiences. By embracing mobile trends, where two thirds of U.S. adults have smartphones and use them to search and conduct commerce, smart operators will be able to deliver service and experience in new ways that will redefine business models. If you don't think these trends are relevant, check out the FIT-C 2014 U.S. Health Club Technology Survey Report.

PSFK's recent report (below) on the future of retail in 2014 is something you should read, watch and think about because these technologies and new approaches are changing how businesses operationalize, market and service customers today. These trends are going to be included in future health clubs and it will completely change how the industry serves its customers. Please join me at #IHRSA2014 this year in San Diego on Friday March 14, 2014 ay 1:30 pm where I'll explore what the future of mobile means for the health club industry.

 

What do you think? I'd love to hear your views. An increasingly competitive landscape  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 .

 

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 .

 

 

Solving Our Biggest Problems Begins With You And Me

 

I was watching Wired magazine's Chris Baker the "Angry Nerd" rant about how TV Networks Are Running Out Of Original Ideas (see clip below). His rant confirmed what I think and write about often, resulting in this post (thanks Angry Nerd). You see solutions to our biggest problems lie not in repeating what we've done but in doing new things. Without embracing this idea, many things (even television content) will probably get worse before they get better.

As the Nerd points out, more and more television represents remakes of existing story lines, often based on public domain plots which networks can use royalty free. I particularly liked Baker's comments on Disney's content strategy. It reminded me of Lessig's view that big media dinosaurs are trying to control the Internet.

What you see in television is what you are seeing in every industry every day: a battle between the status quo, which seeks to wrench ever nickel out of existing assets, models, and ways of doing things; and a group of new leadership that believes the status quo is the problem so it must be undone. 

Put this in context: only 14% of US parents believe their children will have a better life than they do. Personally I think much of our world today suffers from an overdose of Band-Aids when what we need are cures.

For hundreds of thousands of years humans lived in a local, linear world focused on survival. The degree of change was minimal, until now. Survival based on a slowly changing world is in our DNA and it leads to us not giving the level of thought we need to about important things; from the food we eat to where we work. From governments to educational systems and from health care to fitness there is often more effort in participating in and defending the status quo even while many of our biggest problems continue to get worse. The problem with a status quo philosophy, as Seth Godin has shared, is its resulting in a Race To The Bottom . Solutions do not lie in a race to the bottom.

I'm an optimist and believe there are answers, one of the most important being for all of us to question more. Yes that means YOU (and me of course). Don't accept the status quo. Don't participate in institutions that offer the same answers, even when they are cleverly wrapped in and disguised as a new message. This takes diligence and effort but its needed to change things. A recent example that got me worked up is the First Ladies work on healthier food for children, which is steeped in special interest defending the food industry status quo. There are many other examples. Reward brands and people that are REALLY doing things differently because they represent a new way. Don't fall for Coca Cola embracing clean water for the world, when its a principal driver behind global obesity.

The good news is that in the age of the Internet and of the individual there are many groups and people who are impacting the world in a new way. Take a different approach. Be a non-conformist. Be a leader. Really make a difference. Solving our biggest problems begins with you and me. If you are one of the 86% of parents that really believe your kids will have it worse than you, get off your ass and do something about it. Believe me you can make a difference.

What do you think ? I'd love to hear your views and thanks for taking time to read the post.


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 Line Between The Physical And Digital Worlds Continues To Blur

Four years ago I began writing about how the physical and digital worlds are merging . Little did I know I'd be wearing a pair of Google Glass so soon. This has profound implications for the delivery of fitness, wellness and health in general. Consistent with the law of accelerating returns, technology that is enabling this blur continues to roll out at an exponential pace and its becoming quite fascinating. The implications and possibilities are only going to be limited by our imaginations.

Enter MYO, a new control devices that enables the movement of your hand and arm to control displays, devices, whatever. The video is worth a look believe me, and thanks go to my son Shawn for sharing.

This is only the beginning of what is to come and its why I share this recent Ted Talk below by researcher and engineer  Jinha Lee. The border between our physical world and the digital information surrounding us has been getting thinner and thinner and Jinha Lee wants to dissolve it altogether. In his short, gasp-inducing talk, he shares ideas that include a pen that penetrates into a screen to draw 3D models and a computer desktop prototype that lets you reach through the screen to manipulate digital objects.The future isn't coming, its already here. Please share with me your ideas and what you think about these technologies. I'd love to hear from you - Bryan O'Rourke.

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He works 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 and serves as CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org . To learn more contact Bryan here today .