On Track for Success

Spa TechnologyKnowledge is power. If the flourishing fitness gadget and tracking market is any indication, wellness information is extremely powerful. According to the latest research from Endeavour Partners, one in 10 Americans ages 18 and older own an activity tracker, and Juniper Research forecasts worldwide spending on wearable technology will top $1 billion this year. “The ability to track real-time data around personal health and wellness is shaping the wellness landscape in new and exciting ways,” says Stephanie Jennings, senior vice president of sales for MindBody. “With wearable devices, clients can gain personal insights into their own health, gauge how their bodies respond to different exercises and services, and make smarter choices for themselves. Together, these insights can help people carve out the best path for achieving optimal health.” Spas can embrace this booming trend and enhance traditional services and fitness activities by incorporating this technology into their offerings.

To be effective for spa-goers, a tracking app or device doesn’t need to be fancy or overly complicated. “First and foremost, they provide motivation,” says Tom Holland, chief fitness advisor for Nautilus and personal trainer. “We all essentially know what to do; we just lack the desire to do it. Even the simplest fitness devices can provide incentive to be more active.” According to an Endeavour Partners study, being constantly connected to a tracking device means people also remain connected to their goals and can experience their progress via on-demand feedback. More spa-goers are doing that, bringing their trackers with them when they visit. “I have noticed a significant increase in the number of guests using fitness trackers,” says Mike Siemens, clinical director of exercise physiology at Canyon Ranch (Tucson, AZ). “Guests seem to really enjoy quantifying their movement.”

Trackers also help spa-goers plow through a fitness or weight-loss plateau. “The Fitbit, heart rate monitors, and calorie counters all track daily progress and help clients achieve their goals,” says Michelle Neverusky, fitness manager at Carillon Miami Beach (FL). “If clients see that they are five steps from making 10,000 steps a day, they are more likely to finish those five steps rather than quit. Wearable devices help encourage and track daily progress.”

Canyon Ranch plans to keep guests on track with a new exercise physiology lecture series covering what health metrics to track, how to select a wearable device, and more. “This would allow people to learn firsthand what a tracker does and help them determine if it is something they are motivated and intrigued by,” says Siemens. When spa-goers are presented with accurate and concise feedback in real time regarding their actions, they are able to alter behaviors they once thought unchangeable. “A great way for practitioners to make use of data tracking would be to encourage their clients to try a wearable device,” says Jennings. “When spa-goers book a massage or yoga class, they can then easily monitor their own heart rates and personal wellness metrics for the duration of that service and tie the benefits directly to the spa’s offerings.”

The tracking trend also includes sleep statistics and other indicators of relaxation, adding more proof that rest is just as important as heart-pounding activity. “Spas can more effectively promote their services by showing and communicating the health benefits that can be reaped from their unique offerings through the improved breathing, sleeping, and mindfulness that can result from spa therapies over time,” says Jennings. Some apps, such as Happier, even track emotional wellbeing and help maintain the state of bliss derived from the spa. “We’ve created this emotional space that allows you to elevate really small but really good things, which would otherwise just be routine,” says cofounder Nataly Kogan. “Doing that repeatedly has been scientifically proven to make you happier.”

Spas are just beginning to realize the potential of the fitness-tracking trend. “Wearables and tracking health metrics, as with any wellness regime, shouldn’t serve as a complete solution, or a one-stop shop for wellness,” says Jennings. “Rather, wearable devices can serve as a powerful component of a larger wellness regime, which ideally should support all dimensions of one’s wellbeing—the physical, emotional, and mental.”