(Editor’s Note: This sponsored article is part of the Club Industry report, “Technology: Agent of Growth for the Health and Wellness Industry,” which can be downloaded for free by going here.)
With the world swept up in the latest iteration of the age-old quest to innovate through technology, the question must be asked: Where does the health and fitness industry fit into all of this?
In the past six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many club owners to use technology in news to engage with members in isolation. Gym members don’t just need a reason to stay, they need a reason not to leave. I’ve seen various strategies that club owners have put into action and found that the more successful ones all point toward a useful insight: The future of the fitness industry will depend increasingly on the effective use of nonintrusive personalization through artificial intelligence.
Even before the pandemic, many clubs relied on some form of technology to run their business. But these products were geared more toward running internal meetings or member check-ins than motivating someone through a workout. However, the sudden rise of at-home fitness technologies such as Peloton and Mirror—both of which have ways of personally interacting with and motivating its users—introduced a new level of personalization to the industry. In the wake of COVID-19, and having to create online classes using limited technology and equipment available, traditional gyms were seen by some as behind-the-times compared with newer options.
This is where artificial intelligence steps in.
When an instructor leads a class, they see participants’ body language and can motivate them accordingly. However, they only have one set of eyes, so this analysis is done on a one-to-one basis.
Now, imagine if that instructor was able to access detailed health information for each participant as well as predictive data that showed when each person would tire or need extra motivation.
Integrating an artificial intelligence system that not only tracks user data but alerts the instructor and suggests ways for them to adjust their class to optimize engagement removes the limitations of one-to-one engagement while preserving all of its best qualities. Simply put, it’s the game-changer that every club will need in order to survive and thrive.
Although this may sound a bit far-fetched, it’s actually anything but. Several companies use AI technology to analyze tens of millions of data points, which can predict which ads and promotions will be effective in the future. All the data has been right in front of us; it just takes the proper adaptation of existing AI technologies to make it useful to succeed.
The fitness industry has a pretty good track record for spotting technological advantages and reacting swiftly. The rise of smartphones and fitness apps led to an almost wholesale shift toward gym equipment software that can track user progress and encourage in-club results-driven contests. Orangetheory was among the first to capitalize on the usage of heart rate bands, making them a central cog in their operating model. Even in the past few months, gyms that had never paid much attention to online workout videos have seemingly been able to start pumping out broadcast-quality video content daily.
Our industry has adapted like this before. It’s adapting like this right now, and it will continue adapting like this in the future. Getting started by implementing non-intrusive personalization via artificial intelligence will help you reap long-term benefits in the future.
David Steel is founder of Sneeze It, a division of The Steel Method, where he serves as chief viral officer and helps his clients boost their marketing efforts and online presence. Steel educates companies on how to attract prospects, build a lead pipeline and convert those leads into customers. He is a best-selling author and online marketing expert who has given speaking engagements in the United States and abroad on how to create successful—and lucrative—digital and social marketing campaigns.