How Technology is Changing the Fitness Industry
The fitness industry is an ever-changing landscape, largely driven by consumers’ shifting demands for how they want to receive and experience fitness. Technology has encouraged tremendous adaptation in various industries and shaped a convenience economy that demands accessibility and greater consumer control. Fitness providers globally have been challenged to innovate their products to meet these emerging needs, stay ahead of trends and remain relevant to the consumer.
Innovation has occurred to evolve not only the product, but the systems and operations behind the delivery of those products. These developments provide efficiency to operators, allowing them more time to focus on enhancing the consumer experience.
Reaching untapped markets
Technology has provided incredible accessibility for consumers, where they can now access fitness options digitally via their mobile devices, away from the traditional bricks and mortar fitness facility. The fact that the services are available on demand, anywhere, anytime can make them a lot more attractive to time-poor individuals, or those who feel intimidated by a physical gym environment. Typically, these offerings provide a comprehensive service with access to new daily workouts, progress tracking tools, access to support and may even encompass nutrition with meals plans and recipes. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic forced worldwide club closures, the industry has seen numerous providers fast-track the release of “lite” training apps that offer a simplified version of these online services.
Moving forward, providers that now have an app as part of their product offering can integrate it into their existing in-club service and offer hybrid memberships with tiered pricing to suit varying customer needs. They can now also continue to market this product to consumers in areas which they don’t yet have a physical presence, and use it as a high-value entry offer to familiarise new customers with their brand and what they offer. For instance, a club that offers a specialised style of training, eg. HIIT combined with boxing and strength training, can offer their workouts via an app that follows a training program consumers can do with minimal equipment, and complete independently. Over time, if they enjoy the workout, they may be further inclined to seek out a location and visit a club in person. Also, for expanding businesses, they can build up a loyal customer base prior to opening a club in that area.
Gamification is the application of game-design elements and principles in non-game contexts and has been integrated into the fitness experience to increase member retention. One example of this is the use of heart rate monitors throughout a workout to track the output of an individual as unique to them and their current fitness level. This tracking occurs during the activity and provides an overview of their efforts post-workout. This real-time information encourages users to work harder and challenge themselves to achieve greater intensity in their workout, which therefore leads to greater results, faster.
Furthermore, it allows the fitness provider to set challenges, goals and benchmarks for members that are achievable based on their individual physical conditioning and athletic capacity. This kind of integration is most effective when hardware and software solutions work in tandem to specifically gamify elements that enhance both the enjoyment of the activity and the results gained through performing it.
When members enjoy their workout and are seeing results, they are more likely to stay longer and remain more consistent in their training, which benefits both the user and the provider.
Data-driven business decisions
Technology not only facilitates greater innovation by allowing fitness providers to act upon emerging industry trends and evolving consumer needs, it also offers the ability to track the changes and shifts in these trends and needs in real-time, providing high value data to inform further developments.
Most fitness providers now incorporate a combination of different technology into their back-of-house systems to improve efficiency and enhance the experience for both the operator and the consumer. Programs are now widely available that are specific to the fitness industry, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that can track member leads, and trigger funnels based on that lead’s entry point and customer journey, and Member Management Systems (MMS) that have built out templating tools for streamlined communications.
Harnessing the information obtained from these platforms, in conjunction with data from apps and wearable technology (such as heart rate watches and belts), businesses within the fitness industry can now see how their customers interact with their brand and how they utilise their services with greater accuracy. Through looking at variables such as attendance, length of stay, demographics and geographic location, as obtained via the MMS, providers can develop a deeper understanding of who their prospective long-term members may be, and how to better reach them. Furthermore, they can look at how often members train and what time of day to better inform staffing needs.
Importantly, monitoring financial and non-financial business metrics in real (or close to real) time allows for informed business decisions rather than acting on subjective or historical data alone.
Our economy will always have a demand for fitness, especially with growing trends towards self-care and greater insight into the importance of fitness for overall health and wellbeing. However, it will be the companies that can best introduce technology across all areas of their offering that will maintain a competitive advantage.
Today, the fitness industry is highly diversified, with specialised areas and a strong mix of small to large businesses, from 24/7 models to boutique fitness providers, all designed to suit the varying needs of the market. In a highly saturated industry, fitness franchise models present an attractive investment opportunity for those looking to get involved in this growing market without prior experience in business or in fitness. A franchise opportunity offers access to a proven model with an established network and support systems, and the scale to innovate as the industry evolves.
Tim West began his career as a personal trainer. He launched his first business venture in the tech-fitness space in 2003. From there, he went on to be one of the first Jetts franchisees. He began 12RND Fitness after identifying a gap in the market for a form of fitness that was sports-oriented, in a group-fitness setting, focussing on skill-development for motivation; where physical transformations were an additional benefit to the enjoyment of the workout.
4 x world champion Australian Boxer, Danny Green became involved alongside Tim as co-founder to launch their first club in Brisbane, Australia in 2014, before commencing Franchise sales in 2016, and launching UBX Training, their international brand, in 2019.