Make Wearables Part of Your Mobile Strategy

Winners and losers are far from being sorted out in the wearable technology race. But after wearables flooded the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the health and fitness industry looks to be the clear leader in both utility and application. Club owners and trainers are well positioned to take advantage of the fitness, marketing and revenue opportunities tied to wearable tech. And after shipping 70 million units in 2014, wearable makers are upping the apps, accuracy and style of devices to secure some loyalty before Apple introduces their "iWatch" (reportedly) in March.

Health and fitness monitoring has become the first "killer app" for wearables. Maybe now is the time to make wearables part of your mobile strategy.

3 reasons 2015 may be the year for wearables:

  1. 1. Consumers want them. Forrester reports 45 percent of U.S. online adults are "intrigued" with owning one.
  2. 2. Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft want a piece of the market.
  3. 3. Wearables are mobile by nature. Mobile platforms grab customer attention.

Looking forward, Gartner predicts wearable devices will start coming from nonretail channels like insurance providers, wellness providers, weight loss clinics and employers – all linked to health and fitness. And devices packing real health benefits represent the best use case so far for this nascent industry still searching for an identity.

Some fitness chains have already integrated wearable technology – even encouraged purchases – for not just monitoring what one does inside the gym, but also what one does to improve fitness outside of the gym, including sleep habits and nutrition. The New York Times referred to this as the "Big Brother" of gym culture. Big Brother? This sounds a lot like the peer pressure and competition stirred up in group exercise or the CrossFit movement - both huge successes. Big Brother or not, wearables are really all about data gathering. Data becomes metrics. And metrics quantify performance. Measurable performance kinda validates our efforts. We like that.

Gartner includes smart wristbands, sport watches, fitness monitors, chest straps and smart garments in their Wearable Electronic Fitness Device category. We'll simplify and call it what we're actually seeing around the club, fitness trackers.

Most fitness tracker reviews pit Fitbit against Jawbone. Without taking sides, let's look at the latest fitness tracker from Fitbit and highlight the features and break down the tech. Fitbit Charge tracks steps, distance, floors climbed and calories burned. Charge also monitors sleep and includes a vibrating alarm. Charge holds detailed motion data for 30 days.

Fitbit Charge syncs to your smartphone using Bluetooth technology, and the Fitbit app is designed for both Android and Apple iOS. The OLED display is bright and Charge looks like something between a futuristic watch and a rubber bracelet with a cause. Whether measuring progress, tracking workouts, or competing with peers, Fitbit Charge is pretty representative of what's available right now.

Ok, that's not the full story. Fitbit Charge replaced another model that apparently caused skin rashes. In general, fitness trackers have been met with mixed reviews. Many first movers have already abandoned their wearable devices. Testers have questioned accuracy, too. Beyond the fitness benefits, wearables that are nothing more than an extension of your phone don't make sense for the price tag. Fitbit Charge retails at about $130.

But while wearable makers work out the kinks and search for more addictive apps, fitness facilities should be busy aligning opportunities with the technology. Look close. Fitbit, Jawbone and Garmin devices have quietly arrived, and the smartest tech people are predicting wearables will make a lot more noise in 2015.

5 ways to integrate wearable tech into your club:

  1. 1. Marry technology with business. Make wearables part of your mobile business strategy. From sales to operations, wearables can open new doors for clubs looking for an edge.
  2. 2. Wearables provide a new weapon for trainers and instructors. Measure, measure, measure, and build lasting relationships between instructors and clients based on quantifiable fitness goals.
  3. 3. Utilize apps and mobile technology to track incoming traffic, and locate potential targets for upselling training packages and club promotions.
  4. 4. Market wearables in the name of revenue. Some clubs even sell fitness trackers, or make buying recommendations based on expert knowledge. How about bundling a device with a membership?
  5. 5. Prepare now. Don't underestimate adoption of wearable devices. Makers are making more fashionable hardware. Developers are just getting started. Apple and Google are getting in the wearable market, and they don't miss very often.

About CSI Software

CSI Software provides fully integrated, single source health and fitness club management software to health and fitness clubs, campus recreation centers, parks and recreation facilities, wellness centers and hotels and fitness resorts, as well as JCC, YMCA and YWCA organizations.


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