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.
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.
Any gym owner knows, when it comes to business success, member retention is the name of the game. This is not only because the cost of acquiring new members is much higher than retaining old ones. In addition, clients who are happy and motivated are much more likely to recommend a gym to their family and friends and therefore also help to generate revenue. But as plausible as the idea of member retention for business success is today, as intangible solutions seem, because determining “fragile” members and the causes of why they want to leave remains difficult. Yet, there are a few member retention strategies to keep in mind which can help you to keep clients in the long run.
1. Know your market
The first step toward increasing member retention is to identify your market. Who is using your gym? Vegan yoga-queens? Body-builders on a paleo-diet? Middle-aged bankers, who want to stay in shape or senior citizens, who want to do something about their back pain? For each of them exercise, fitness and health have different meanings.
In determining age-, gender identity as well as their socioeconomic situation, you will be able to design your gym in a way that engages your specific audience, according to their needs. For example, if you realize that many of your customers work from 9am to 5pm, a switch to longer and more flexible opening hours would make it easier form them to integrate gym-time into their daily routine. Or if you discover that most of you clients are senior citizens, instead of a new HIT training session, you might want to offer workouts based on functional training or yoga classes, which are more appealing to them.
Therefore, understanding your market can help you finetune and redesign your concept in a way that is meaningful to your clients.
2. Create a lifestyle brand
Branding, without a doubt, it is one of the best ways to increase and at the same time retain your client base, because ever since the rise of boutique fitness we’ve witnessed that once people have committed to a lifestyle, they stay loyal, sometimes even without contracts. And let’s be real, nowadays fitness and healthy living are lifestyles.
Still, the idea of branding might be intimidating at first. But in the digital age many of the resources you need are more accessible than ever. You can for example create your own website and blog with a few clicks and share your ideas on various social media channels with the world, without paying a cent.
Actually, the hardest part about creating your brand is asking some tough questions like: What is our vision? How do you set yourself off from your competitors? What makes your gym unique? Who is your primary audience and how can you engage them effectively?
Once you have determined that, get creative! Design you own logo, write down your brand messaging and find your voice that reflects your gym’s philosophy. Keep in mind to be consistent with your messaging and be true to your brand. This is also where knowledge about your customer base comes in handy (see point one) as you, for example, don’t want to overwhelm people in their mid-forties and fifties by using too many hashtags and flashy graphics. Adjusting your tone according to your audience is essential as it also forges a more personal connection with your clients, which in the end is an essential factor that drives member retention.
3. Sharing is caring: use social media to build a community
As mentioned before, social media is a great tool you can use for branding your gym. But it can be used for more than just putting your logo out there. You can build your own community using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and change the way you communicate with your members.
There are a few things to keep in mind, when it comes to social media. The first is to understand that no matter which ones of the many social networks you’re using, it’s all about communication and communication isn’t a one-way street. This means that your channel should not just bombard your followers with ad after promotional video, after new discount etc.
You actually want to engage your audience by posting about things that matter to them, ask questions and facilitate exchange.
Maybe you want to curate pinterest boards about new exercises, nutrition or sports wear, which your members can pin? Or maybe the right way for you is to set up an Instagram account and document #fitnesslife in your gym? You can even create your own gym-specific hashtag and encourage your members to post about their workout routine. Or maybe you want to create groups on Facebook and organize post-workout-meetups for members to facilitate community building? The possibilities on social media are endless and with the right strategy, you will not only increase the loyalty of your clients, but also attract new members.
4. Honor milestones
Everyone loves gifts. Milestones and anniversaries are a perfect reason to celebrate and keep your clients motivated. A member completed three months of training and didn’t miss a week? Maybe that’s the right time to bring their partner or best friend for a free workout together. As an alternative you could hand out a free towel or water bottle. Another simple way to honor your client’s commitment is to offer discounts on your online merchandise or membership fees for a month. No matter what you do, it will communicate that you value your members and pay attention.
5. Motivation through new technologies
As you’re running a business in the fitness and health industry, one of your main goals is to help your clients live healthier and better lives, while also running a successful business. Thus, keeping your members motivated is at the heart of all successful member retention strategies.
So why not benefit from some of the new insights and technologies of the digital age?
In 2015 UC Berkeley published a study that suggests the “gamification of fitness” will change the way people exercise through integrating “collaborative and competitive games” into workouts. The study points out that creating “motivating fitness games” could make long-term fitness engagement more attractive for people who are not intrinsically motivated.
Now, you’re probably not an app developer, but you can nonetheless benefit from some of these findings. You can, for example, invest in modern motion-capture technology and interactive circuit training, which lets your clients track their own success and compare and share it with others. That way you could have monthly competitions about who exercised the most, or who was the most consistent. In any case, staying up to date and considering new ways of keeping your clients engaged is essential for boosting retention.