By Tracy Morrell, Director of React Fitness
It’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-lasting effects on our lives, economies and societies. It has, already, fundamentally changed the way we do business.
In the fitness and wellness sector, the pandemic has resulted in businesses and consumers becoming much more reliant on, and comfortable in, digital environments. Technical advances and solutions that would have normally taken years to develop (never mind being adopted) were created and embraced in a matter of weeks during 2020. For wellness businesses, the pivot to digital has, and will, pose both challenges and opportunities.
Perhaps more importantly for our industry, the pandemic has also made our customers reassess the way they see, and approach, healthcare and personal wellbeing.
Crucially, the threat posed by COVID-19 has led people to re-evaluate their own health and, in particular, the relationship they have with their bodies. This is partly thanks to the pandemic highlighting how underlying lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, heart issues, high blood pressure and obesity, can make an individual much more susceptible to becoming seriously ill if infected by a pathogen such as the novel coronavirus. Being fit and healthy has, quite literally, never been more important.
This fresh appreciation for physical fitness has emerged in tandem with a renewed focus on mental health, following concerns over the effects of lockdowns and social isolation. As a result, the concept of “whole-person health” has gained new ground. Not only are people realising that being fit is a necessity, rather than a nice-to-have, but also that “true fitness” requires a holistic approach.
This will have huge implications for gyms, health clubs, fitness studios and leisure centres. Why? Because an entirely new customer segment will likely emerge, once lockdown measures are eased and facilities are allowed to open their doors.
These new types of customers will be motivated by tangible, real improvements in their whole-person health. Seeing, feeling and, crucially, understanding, the improvements which result from exercise will be at the heart of these new, outcome-driven customers more than ever before.
Muscle gain, improved cardiovascular health and weight loss will still play a big part in their journeys. But only if they can make them relevant to their personal, individual needs or conditions – and understand the implications of the results.
This is where operators can play a huge role. By harnessing technology that is unavailable to consumers, while offering the experience and expertise of their fitness staff to provide results-oriented exercise and training opportunities, facility operators can become more than “simply gyms”. They can become health and wellness hubs, offering preventative healthcare in the purest form – by using analytics and data to identify potential (or real) health issues and then providing solutions through exercise and nutritional advice.
At the heart of these hubs will be technology, fitness equipment and expertise which consumers can not access at home. While there has been an explosion of at-home fitness solutions, the offerings are often limited to one type of exercise – such as an indoor cycle or “grab what you can” functional fitness. Contrast this with a fully-equipped gym floor, combined with guidance from a fitness instructor on hand, and it is easy to see which option these result-oriented “new” customers are likely to pick.
Crucially, gyms can now offer cutting-edge technology and analytics, which will provide the framework for the fitness journey of those looking for a holistic approach to fitness.
Take 3D body scanners, such as Styku, which uses artificial intelligence to measure body fat.
Styku can show people their risks of obesity-related disease and how those risks are changing. Thanks to its advanced capabilities, it can also provide reports on visceral fat and bone mass, which will help customers not only understand their body better – but also identify areas of improvement.
A body scanner like Styku can become a central part of the new, preventative health and fitness journey. Facilities can use it to evaluate a customer’s full-body shape and body composition, and importantly set goals. Progress can then be accurately measured and tracked by the trainer, coach or physical therapist.
This technology can be used to analyse risks of obesity-related disease by digitally measuring the abdominal waist. This means that, whether the individual’s goal is fat-loss or a drop in calorie consumption, Styku can provide detailed trends to visually demonstrate the changes and improvements to a person’s overall fitness and health over time.
In short, by using technologies such as Styku, facilities can accurately evaluate risks and then communicate the possibilities. This will allow the creation of highly-personalised fitness goals which will meet clients’ needs.
IMMERSE YOUR CUSTOMER
Facilities that are “just gyms” may offer static weight scales and less accessible wall charts, such as “ideal BMIs” and other vague graphs. For those who want to go beyond that, there’s a much more immersive and engaging experience available when it comes to identifying, tracking and quantifying results for clients.
With the help of 3D body scanners and other health screening methods, the preventative health hubs of the future will be able to pinpoint an individual’s risk areas and then devise a plan to combat them. Once a programme is underway, facilities will be able to use tech to show people how their shape is changing – something that no at-home offer will ever be able to do.
Facility operators that think beyond being “just a gym” and utilise technology will find themselves ahead of their rivals. By using tech in an innovative, forward-thinking way, they will be able to engage, and retain, their customers in an entirely new way.
Facilities can even use technologies like Styku as lead generators for customers. Offering 3D health screen packages for a small fee, for example, means that each time a customer comes in for a scan, they’re essentially paying to be a lead.
The facility-based fitness industry has had a tough time during the pandemic, there is no doubt about that. But the sector isn’t going anywhere. It is simply evolving.
The truth is that fitness businesses which fail to recognise the ongoing change will miss the opportunity to adapt – and will end up being in danger. Those, however, that are prepared to experiment and invest in the future will stay competitive.
New trends are already emerging. Look hard enough, and you’ll see them. A new wave of leaders will emerge in 2021. Will your business be one of them?
To learn more about how Styku can turn your facility into a true health and wellness hub for the new fitness age, delivering tangible, “whole-person” health results for your members, contact Tracy Morrell via: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +44(0)20 7272 0770