Everyone is talking about quantified self these days. With the rapid development of new apps and wearable devices, we’ve witness a growing interest in collecting data about our bodies and lives in order to improve ourselves. This trend also impacts the fitness and health industry. It currently presents a business opportunity for club owners to distinguish their club from others. In this article we therefore consider the origins of the quantified self movement and its central ideas. We then look at quantified self in fitness and health clubs and how this movement can become a useful tool to increase member retention by increasing client experience.
Some history: What is the quantified self movement?
The quantified self movement already started in 1981, when Allen Neuringer wrote a paper in the journal Behaviourism, in which he presented a history of self-experimentation and called for self-monitoring. Although the movement would only receive its name much later, the paper established in the early 1980s that the idea of quantifying the self through tracking one’s own behaviour is an old one. However, with the onset of the digital age, the possibilities of self-experimentation and self-tracking have been radically altered. New wearable devices, for instance, allow the documentation of almost all parts of human life today. Yet, the aspiration of “externalizing our bodies through data to learn more about ourselves”, as researchers at the Berkeley School of Information define the quantified self movement, remains the same.
What data is externalized?
Usually people with an interest in improving certain aspects of their lives, start collecting data about any of these four larger aspects.
- Inputs: food, quality of air
- Physical health: pulse, blood pressure
- Mental state: mood, quality of sleep, satisfaction
- Physical performance: exercise, calories burnt, steps taken
This is also known as lifelogging. In general they collect this data via smartphones, apps or wearable devices and only about their specific area of interest. But is data enough to quantify or even improve the self? Of course not. It needs to be processed and analyzed first. This essentially means that the collected data is processed into visual representations like tables and graphs. After that, these are cross referenced with other data sets, such as daily routines.
Can you give an example?
For example, Bianca is wearing a watch that tracks her pulse. After comparing peaks with her daily schedule, she realizes that her heart rate is higher than usual, when she is in her car on the way to her office job. It also peaks on her way back home. Considering this, Bianca might try to commute via public transport for a while, if only to see whether this change improves her stress levels.
Bianca was only able to come to this conclusion by cross referencing the collected data of her wearable device with her work schedule.
Now you’re probably thinking: interesting, but what does this have to do with the fitness industry? Hang in there, we’ll get to it in a second.
Quantified self in fitness and health clubs
As people feel inclined to collect more and more data about themselves to improve their overall well-being, they also want to track their workout progress and optimize their exercise routines according to their needs. Some people, for example, might simply want to track how many times they are working out, how long their workouts generally take and how their heart rate adapts over time, which they can do with fitness apps and wearables. Others, might also be interested in exercise precision and the accuracy in which they perform, for example, functional exercises, as they are in the midst of recovery.
However, many fitness and health professionals are still wary of fitness apps and wearable fitness trackers. They fear new technologies might replace personal trainers and fitness facilities altogether. But in reality there’s no reason to be afraid. Thats because trainers are uniquely qualified to help clients analyze their data and make suggestions to improve the fitness routine of their clients.
In fact, members will more and more rely on the analytical skills and overall knowledge of their trainers, since data without the ability to contextualize, really, is no data at all.
Thus, the knowledge of trainers as well as fitness and health professionals is essential in order to use these new technologies the right way.
New tools for fitness and health professionals
Fitness trackers, apps and other devices that generate data are therefore new tools fitness and health professionals across the board can use to improve the experience of their clients. If used the right way, these tools can help you to create new and innovative approaches to fitness that are not only more efficient but also tailored to the needs of your members.
So here’s three reasons why the quantified self movement is a business opportunity for fitness and health clubs:
1. Better coaching
New data-driven workouts will not only help you to improve the workouts of your clients according to their individual goals but also enhance the overall quality of your services.
2. More motivation
Better coaching and better services will inevitably increase the motivation of your clients. Because really, who would not want to workout in a club that values the experience of their members above all things?
3.Happier clients = increased retention
No matter if digital natives or digital rookies, anyone appreciates tailor-made workouts. And with increasingly happier clients, you will see rising retention rates.
The quantified self movement is a business opportunity for fitness and health clubs. Creating apps, selling wearables or offering data-driven workouts can improve customer experience by making success quantifiable.
We’ve all been there. The holiday season is almost over and our social media feeds are cramped with new year’s resolutions. As we’ve seemingly reached the peak of self-loathing, almost every post mentions lifestyle changes, weight loss, signing up for a gym and eating more healthy foods. But whereas this might be off-setting for some, others couldn’t be happier. Especially business owners in the fitness and health industries view this time of the year as the most lucrative season. Their underlying assumption: most people sign up for gyms or dieting programs in January. But is this still the case? We’ve checked and found that times are changing and one particularly well-known company had to learn this the hard way. But before we take a closer look at the business lessons for fitness club owners, we first want to consider this case in more detail.
The Weight Watchers case
Weight Watchers had been the most dominant player in the dieting market for decades but from 2011 until 2015 the company’s subscription numbers were shrinking rapidly and its market value declined from $6 billion to $1 billion within only four years. So the company sought answers as to why people were reluctant to join their program and identified an ongoing cultural shift, it’s name: dieting fatigue. People no longer wanted to hear about “dieting” or “weight loss” but were rather interested in becoming healthy and fit. Clean eating and ideas like “strong is the new skinny” also figured heavily in this new mindset.
As a reaction, Weight Watchers decided to change its messaging with slogans like “time to move beyond the scale”. The company also revamped its marketing strategy and invested in new technologies. And they did so successfully. Today Weight Watchers has gained new momentum as its stock market value continues to climb, which is not only due to endorsements by Oprah Winfrey but also thanks to the company’s open-minded approach to solving its problems.
So, here are three business lessons for fitness club owners from this story:
1. Recognize cultural shifts: Don’t assume what people want! Ask them, then listen!
The Weight Watchers case illustrates that being in touch with your client base is essential. This implies that continuously monitoring attitude changes toward your product is key to staying relevant as a business. When the company finally acknowledged that something was off, they did not hesitate to investigate the problem thoroughly. They sent out interviewers to reconnect with their client base and discovered that there were some fundamental attitude changes toward dieting at hand. Dieting fatigue, not only was a trend, it presented a cultural shift, which Weight Watchers had overlooked for years. But now that they company had identified the core of the problem, they were able to address and overcome it.
So what does this mean for fitness and health clubs? It is also essential for them to be in touch with their client base and be aware of how their clients feel about their membership. This is why it is crucial to check in with your members regularly. Don’t simply assume what they want, actually ask, listen and then adapt. This will not only boost member retention but also signal to your clients that you value their opinion.
2. Adapt your messaging: dieting fatigue can also become a liability for your business
It might sound obvious for some but too many times the old “we’ve always done it this way” argument trumps new business ideas and strategies. This is especially the case when it comes to marketing, where it is essential to stay up to date and recognize new trends and cultural shifts (see point one).
As we’ve learned from Weight Watchers, dieting fatigue for instance, can become a real liability.
As a reaction the company changed their messaging to their more inclusive and less guilt-driven “move beyond the scale” campaign.
Fitness and health clubs are also impacted by dieting fatigue. Yet they often-times still rely on old tropes in their ad campaigns and continue to promote the all too well-known new year’s resolution of “finally losing those ten pounds that have been bugging you for years”. However, if there is anything we can learn from the Weight Watchers case, we need to acknowledge that people no longer want to hear that they have to lose weight. That’s also why slogans like “strong is the new skinny” are gaining in popularity.
So here’s another business lessons for fitness club owners: Instead of guilting new clients into signing a contract after the holidays, fitness clubs could seize the opportunity to connect with their clients. For instance, they could replace the old “finally lose those ten pounds with us” ad with new ideas and turn to a more productive messaging that resonates with their target group.
3. Invest in new technologies
Another lesson fitness owners can learn from the Weight Watchers case, is that investing in new technologies pays off. After their sales figures had plummeted, Weight Watchers decided not only to rethink its messaging but also to finally keep up with its fierce competitors and create an online platform and a new app. Especially because Weight Watchers joined in on the quantified self movement, they were able to convince customers that their company also belonged in the twenty-first-century.
As the world moves toward a fully digital economy, fitness club owners can benefit from new technologies as well and thereby increase their revenue. As we’ve already pointed out in a previous article about boutique fitness, experts predict for example that data-driven workouts are the future. So why not invest in solutions that will quantifiably improve the workout quality of your members, improve their experience and therefore among other things increase member retention?
Business lessons for fitness club owners
So here’s what we’ve learned: First, it is essential to be in touch with your client base and to always be on top of cultural shifts that also affect the attitudes of your club members. Second, always be ready to adapt your messaging and don’t rely on old tropes. Be Creative. Third, invest into the future of your business and and keep up with technological and digital innovation.
The new year has almost arrived and everyone is keen to follow through with their new year’s resolutions. Some even say that business owners and entrepreneurs should do the same and think about their good intentions for 2018. But do you already have a list of resolutions for your fitness or health club? If you don’t, there’s no need to worry! We’ve got you covered. For this post we came up with five digital new year’s resolutions for fitness and health club owners that will not only be easy to realize. They will actually boost your business and make 2018 the year in which you finally increase online engagement with super-effective online marketing and ultimately utilize your full social media potential.
Resolution #1: Finally Start Using Social Media to Boost Your Business
This is the first and probably most obvious of our resolutions, but also the most important one. If you’re not already on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or any other of the numerous social media platforms, you need to change this!
Using social media will not only improve the online visibility of your club. It will also change the way you communicate with your existing and future clients.
However, before you decide on which platforms you want to use, think about who your target group. On which of the numerous platforms will you find them? So here’s a list of the different platforms and who spends their time there:
Facebook & Instagram
Both platforms are about consumers, which makes them the ideal platform to connect with future clients, members and customers. They are also a great tool to maintain a connection with already existing members and to start a conversation with them. That way you also collect information that can be helpful if you consider optimizing your club according to your customers needs.
That’s why fitness and health clubs, as B2C businesses, need to be on Instagram and Facebook to reach their target audience through regular (aka organic) posts or through more directed advertising campaigns.
If you’re a fitness entrepreneur, you need to be on this platform. Not only to network with industry experts. Especially if you’re a B2B health or fitness facility, you also need to post and advertise on LinkedIn, as this is where you will find potential investors, or companies looking to improve their corporate health programs.
It’s the best platform to boost your profile and perceived authority and set yourself off from your competition. It’s also great to find new employees.
This is where you can voice your opinion — so rants about the dangers of sedentary culture or diet soda go here. This is also where you mostly engage with professionals in your field and find sometimes random, yet, valuable information about your business branch.
Resolution #2: Create A Social Media Editorial Plan
After you’ve sorted out which of the social media platforms you want to use, create an editorial plan. This is especially helpful since you want to be posting consistently. It should list the content you plan to release each week, as well as the deadlines for all. An editorial calendar allows you to plan campaigns in advance and not to hastily put together content in a rush. It also saves you from duplicating content and allows you to plan seasonal and timely content.
Some of the helpful categories to include in your editorial plan are: content, type of content, authors and producers, editorial tasks, marketing tasks, deadlines, reminders, date of publication, publication channel, reporting of results.
Your editorial plan is a “living document” which should be reviewed and adapted on a regular basis.
Resolution #3: Keep the Online Conversation Going
Don’t just click the like-button or copy-paste a generic response to comments on social media. You can do better. Engage your audience and keep the conversation going. If someone posts “I love your new functional training equipment”, you can think about what response will keep them more engaged: “that’s great, we’re so happy you enjoy our workouts” or “We are excited you like our new equipment, what function did you enjoy most? We’d love to hear more!”.
But why should you put in the labor? There are three reasons: First, your customers feel important and valued. Second, you learn about problems early and are in a position to fix them before they drive customers away. Last, but not least, you can focus on investing in areas that matter most to your customers because you collect information constantly.
Resolution #4: Create An Online Presence Refresh Calendar
Your website and your social media presences are not set in stone. When your business grows, changes happen and it’s important to keep them updated, so don’t just set it and forget it. Creating a review-and-refresh schedule will remind you to revisit your site and other channels on a regular basis. It is essential to check if your information is complete, your key facts are correct and if your texts are still persuasive in order to maintain a successful online presence.
Did you fill in all the fields on your social media profiles? If your profile is incomplete, your facility will not properly show up in search results on Facebook or Google Business. This can cost you customers as they often-times rely on search engines to find fitness and health clubs.
Check if contact details, opening hours, your address, your programs and services are correct. For example, do you advertise your new functional training circuit training?
Also check your photos. Maybe you need to update and remove pictures of former staff and replace old logos.
The ads you place, your homepage and also the descriptions in your social media profiles, this is how your clients first encounter you. That’s why you want to leave a stellar impression, which depends on powerful copywriting. So it’s a good idea to revisit your online texts and make adjustments regularly.
Resolution #5: Respond Faster To Emails And Other Messages
It sounds simple but it’s definitely not easy. We all know that sometimes life gets in the way of fast responses, but they are important. If a future client walked into your club, you would not ignore them for a day, two days or even weeks and months. You would talk to them immediately, making sure they feel welcome.
So here’s the deal with Emails, Facebook and LinkedIn messages, voicemails and business reviews: if you don’t respond fast, potential clients will lose interest.
That’s why it’s a great idea, to commit to taking some time in the morning, and some time in the afternoon to check all your messages and immediately respond to them. This will not only impact your business in a positive way, but also ease your mind, because we all know there’s nothing worse than having to sit down and respond to 100+ mails.
If you keep in mind these resolutions, then 2018 will be the year in which you profit from your online presence in new ways and thereby increase member retention among other things.