Mobile Apps For Health & Fitness - We're Just Getting Started

Perhaps you finally got that smartphone you always wanted. I know I have. Now over half of all mobile phones in the US are "Smart" and internet connected. The number of US Smartphone users has exceeded 75 million and many, including me, think the future of mobile is the future of everything .

While there are no shortages of fitness apps , even ones that make your iPhone a personal trainer, I think the mobile app trend is just getting started. 500 Million people worldwide will be using mobile health apps by 2015 according to research2guidance.

A good example of newer apps that are doing a better job of including gaming and other social features is Fleetly .Check the video below that demonstrates the apps features and tell me Bryan O'Rourke, what do you think of mobile smartphone apps for health and fitness ? What are your favorite apps ? Check out my report on Mobility Trends And The Health Club Industry to learn more on this interesting topic.

About the author Bryan O’Rourke:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financeer, shareholder and executive in several fitness and health club business service companies. He is also a partner in The Health Club For Women and Chairman of the Medical Fitness Association’s Education Committee. To learn more contact Bryan here today .

Think Mobile Trends & Social Media Are Related - You Bet They Are

The infographic above shows the current size of major social networks as well as the other well-known online services used on a daily basis relative to their peers. It also overlays the size of each company’s mobile user base. You’ll see Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, MySpace, LinkedIn, and more (wonder why Microsoft paid what they did for Skype?). Check out the agency’s infographic from last year to see the relative changes. Notable differences include: The rise of Chinese Qzone and Twitter, the fall of Myspace, and the stasis of Friendster.

Below are stats from JESS3 to consider. Please tell me, Bryan O'Rourke, what are your thoughts about these trends ? Is your business, your fitness or wellness business or any business or organization for that matter, planning, thinking or preparing for the revolution tied to these technologies ? I look forward to hearing your thoughts about what is happening and what is next.

Some other notable trends in the geosocial universe, courtesy of JESS3:

  • Mobile: 5.3 billion mobile devices are used worldwide — that’s 77 percent of the world’s population
  • Smartphones: 21.8 percent of all mobile devices are smartphones. Despite what one might think, Apple does not top the list in sales—Nokia does
  • Skype: Mobile usage continues to increase thanks to Skype’s wise investment in apps and its mobile platform
  • Facebook: Now tops 629 million registered users with almost 250 million people accessing the site via mobile
  • Qzone: China’s version of Facebook, Qzone, is experiencing supernova-like growth with 480 million registered users
  • Twitter: Broke the 200 million registered user mark with nearly 40 percent of people tweeting via mobile
  • Email: Hotmail still dominates email, but Gmail is gaining fast
  • Yelp: Yelp is topping 50 million unique visitors per month. Its move to team up with OpenTable earlier this year will only increase its relevancy
  • Foursquare and Gowalla: These geosocial specialists are still growing, but growth seems to be slowing down a bit

Best Buys Foray Into Fitness Is Just The Beginning

Maybe you noticed during your holiday shopping back in December; I know I did. After testing a pilot program last year, Best Buy rolled out health devices and fitness products at 600 Best Buy stores and online at Products are on display in a 30 ft. long health and fitness presentation area, which enables consumers to sample devices before they purchase them. Available products include state-of-the-art heart rate monitoring watches, blood-pressure monitors, pedometers, scales and other products from leading manufacturers.

Chris Koller, VP portable electronics solutions group at Best Buy recently had this to say, “We clearly tapped into a desire for Best Buy to provide the latest and greatest technology to enhance health regimens, and to help people discover how they can integrate these devices with other personal technology to monitor and share their progress, and to stay motivated.”

What does this mean ? Its just the beginning to the new wave of wellness devices that will rely on cloud technologies to enable the collection of data for purposes of monitoring and motivating people to be healthy and the health club industry better take notice. As I've written before, wireless wellness is a potential threat to bricks and mortar delivery of fitness and wellness. As smartphone and cloud technologies proliferate we will see more product solutions emerge to fit this growing market.

A recent blood pressure device is an example of a new product in this category. French gadget maker Withings is launching a blood pressure cuff combined with the intuitive, feel-good design of an iPhone app. It's compatible with iPod, iPhone, and iPad; saves your readings automatically; connects automatically with cloud-based personal health tools like Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health; and graphically displays your measurements in context against recommendations from the World Health Organization.

As mobility and cloud trends come main stream, a new world of competition and opportunities for the fitness and wellness industry will result. Contact me, Bryan O'Rourke, and tell me what you think . Do you see the foray of Best Buy into fitness and these new series of products as a threat or opportunity for health clubs ?

As 2011 Approaches The Future For The Health Club Business Is Promising

This is an excerpt from an upcoming article written by Bryan K. O'Rourke, MBA, that will be featured in the Gold's Gym Franchisee Association's digital magazine "The Voice".

As we enter 2011, the health club business, like many, faces tough times.  Slow growth stands in contrast to a history of expansion.  However, short term problems might ultimately serve to separate the capable from the unprepared. By adopting new business models and technologies, smart competitors will flourish while others struggle to survive.  As economic conditions improve, the strategic minded club operator will be positioned to do very well and have the chance to wrestle away market share while potentially growing the industry overall. How will a promising future unfold in light of recent struggles?  Here are some thoughts.

Economic Outlook Is Slowly Improving

Economic conditions are improving, albeit slowly. According to the November IHS Global Insight Economic Outlook Index, real GDP growth is forecasted at 2.2% in December through March of 2011, with 5 of 11 leading indicators being positive. While lending remains tight, funds are available for good credit risks. Despite slowly improving near term economic conditions, more important long term transformative factors are impacting the health club business along with other industries as technological advancements, changing consumers and new economic models create challenges and new opportunities.

New Business Models

Larger “budget club” formats like Equinox’s newly developed “Blink”, among others, reflect a further evolution of business models, offering monthly membership dues of as little as $10. Meanwhile new, hi-end, experiential and niche facilities such as Lifetime’s Lifepoweryoga, Soul Cycle, and Fitness Euphoria offer memberships for $80 or more per month with the option to pay for single sessions starting at $20. These more experiential facilities offer higher levels of membership engagement at a higher price point. Bottom line is these and other new models are generating positive ROI's and reflect evolving concepts and formats that will drive growth for the health club industry.


The bricks and mortar fitness industry is changing. Internet ubiquity, mobility and social platforms are changing the way business is and will be done in and outside of the four walls. The potential for engaging members and prospects using these technologies is unlimited. Solutions, like SCVNGR, Foursquare and others are already being used for marketing and brands like Gold’s, Equinox and others have launched sophisticated applications for their members. With online services and memberships growing, this is only the beginning of what is to come, as intelligent operators will use these technologies to interact with and service their existing and prospective members in new and exciting ways.


While the popularity of fitness has increased substantially during the past several decades, the idea of illness prevention is a concept that national health policy can no longer ignore. With national health care costs topping $2.7 trillion in 2010, the health club industry by comparison represents less than a penny on each dollar spent on illness. This despite wide ranging research showing the benefits of exercise and diet in preventing most major chronic illnesses.

New monitoring technologies and health club services and programs offer an answer to the health care crisis. As health care costs become untenable, employers and the government are seeking prevention solutions. In a recent ground breaking decision Medicare began reimbursements for Pritikin’s intensive diet and exercise programs for qualifying individuals with a history or risk of cardiovascular events. Employers are also embracing wellness programs as a means to cap their exploding health care costs as well. This is a big business opportunity for health clubs.

Art Curtis, Chairman of IHRSA, recently called on the leaders of the health club industry to launch a comprehensive campaign that will improve our nation's health through positive personal behaviors and working closely with important stakeholders like government agencies, educators, the medical community and others. Art is right and many health club players will intelligently enter the prevention business in the years to come.

What Do You Think ?

Contact me, Bryan K. O'Rourke, and tell me "do you think the future for health clubs is promising?" Why or why not ? Read my upcoming article in the GGFA's "The Voice" to learn more on key trends around the future of the health club industry.

Think Mobility is Just a "Trend" in the Fitness Industry ?

I write about technology's impact on the world - particularly the fitness industry and wellness biz. The typical response I get from fitness industry leaders is one of "that's cool" but the underlying skepticism is hard to miss. After all , the latest technologies haven't knocked off many of the same approaches used for the past few decades. So tech is cool alright - but most industry veterans don't really pay attention. Perhaps they should.

When you realize that there is an entire convention on mobility in health care, perhaps the fitness and wellness industry should take notice. Next week, the Mobile Health Expo is occuring in Las Vegas. Its the only event focusing on the convergence of mobile technology and healthcare across the entire mobile health ecosystem, including mhealth, telemedicine, wireless and connected health. Mobile Health Expo is designed to catalyze the discussions, partnerships, visions and public policy debates in order to move mobile health into the future. The event will focus on eight market drivers: aging at home, disease management, health inclusion for developed and developing countries, provider education, patient education, healthcare gaming, mobile wallets and benefits. The 2010 event takes place October 19-21, 2010 at the Las Vegas Caesars Palace Convention Center.

Executives from around the world convene to focus specifically on Health and the Mobility of the industry - and the tag line ? How about "Everything in Health is going Mobile." Indeed it is. Let's get a similar conversation and event started for fitness.