Do's and Don'ts of Fitness Trackers in Health Clubs

Exercisers worldwide are monitoring their heart rate, activity level, and sleep patterns with wearable fitness technology, driving a rapid growth in the fitness tracker market. Case in point: more than 4,500 health and fitness professionals named wearables as the top fitness trend for 2023, according to the annual international survey by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Looking into the future, this market could continue to expand, according to Technavio’s recent research report. Between 2022 and 2027, the company estimates this market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.14 percent and increase by $44,314.14 million. Technavio attributes the forecasted growth to the growing adoption of wearable devices, increasing awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and expanding markets in emerging countries. 

Advancements in technology have also fueled significant growth in the tech tracker market, says Bryan O’Rourke, president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. Wearables, such as fitness trackers and smartwatches, have evolved from simple step counters to sophisticated devices that monitor various aspects of health and wellness, he says. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, gym members relied upon fitness apps and wearables, and clubs embraced virtual training sessions, using trackers to monitor participants’ activities and provide remote guidance. Today, fitness trackers are used both at home and in the club, and they continue to play a crucial role in enhancing the relationship between fitness club owners and their clients, he says. 

By encouraging members to use smart fitness trackers, club owners can gain insights into members’ activities, preferences, and progress. 

“This data allows club owners to tailor their services and offerings to meet individual member needs, thereby fostering a more personalized and engaging fitness experience,” he says. 

Club owners can integrate data from fitness trackers into their gym management software, allowing them to analyze member behavior, identify trends, and create targeted workout plans or promotions. 

Health clubs have integrated fitness trackers into clients’ workouts in several ways:
•    Class Monitoring: In group classes, instructors can use data from trackers to modify intensity levels and provide real-time feedback.
•    Personal Training: Personal trainers can create customized workout plans based on tracker data, ensuring tailored progress. 
•    Goal setting: Trackers assist members in setting specific fitness goals and tracking their achievements.
•    Competition and Challenges: Clubs organize challenges where members use their trackers to compete and earn rewards.

Club owners still face a significant challenge in integrating consumer tracking technologies with member management systems, O’Rourke says. 

“More work is needed here to make the member experience more impactful in-facility,” he says. 
“The key to effective technology adoption is designing it to create valuable and convenient user experiences. This is an arena that requires more effort by fitness facility operators and the vendors who serve them.”

Do's and Don'ts of Fitness Trackers in Health Clubs
Bryan O’Rourke offers these tips on how to effectively leverage trackers in clubs. 

•    Educate Members: Provide clear instructions on how to use fitness trackers effectively and interpret the data.
•    Encourage Usage: Motivate members to wear and use their trackers consistently to collect accurate data.
•    Offer Support: Use tracker data to provide personalized advice and support, enhancing the member experience.
•    Respect Privacy: Ensure that member data is handled securely and in compliance with privacy regulations.

•    Overwhelm Members: Avoid bombarding members with excessive data or notifications, which could lead to disengagement.
•    Force Usage: Respect members who may choose not to use trackers and provide alternative methods for tracking progress.
•    Misinterpret Data: Don't make assumptions solely based on tracker data; use it as a supplement to conversations with members.