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.