Amaresh Ojha

Business Head, RoundGlass Gympik

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How Technology is Changing the Fitness Industry?

Today, consumers are looking towards technology to enhance their fitness efforts, and industry predictions suggest that this trend will only grow further.

Technology has brought about a paradigm shift in the way we carry out our daily chores. With all our needs, from ordering meals to finding maids or hailing a cab now being a touch away, convenience and comfort have brought with them health issues and a lifestyle intrinsic to such sedentary existence. Consequently, technological advancements of the next generation are focusing on encouraging a healthy, physical-activity oriented fitness effort, seamlessly integrated with living in the digital age.

In India, the total retail market for fitness as a category is valued at ₹4,579 crore (US $0.76 bn), with an annual growth of 16-18%, and is estimated to cross ₹7000 crore (US $1.18 bn) by end of the year 2017. With the simultaneous rise of disposable per capita income and lifestyle related health issues, fitness centres are burgeoning. With rapid changes in consumer behavior it had become imperative for the fitness industry to take cognizance, and incorporate advanced technology, in enhancing user experience and ease of operations. New solutions are emerging every day, and it is transforming the way business models in the fitness industry are managed in the digital era.

That technology is a game-changer in the fitness industry, is a no brainer. Just how pervasive digital technology is in steering consumer behavior and transforming industry operation patterns is astonishing. Dedicated fitness discovery platforms are making it easy for people to find fitness centers, contact personal trainers, and locate appropriate equipments. It is as easy as ordering a meal. Customizable online fitness programmes, digital videos and personalized online nutrition guidance is enabling the fitness seeker to seamlessly incorporate a health regime in his/her time-strapped daily life. ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ is the new mantra. Fitness wearables and tracker apps have made possible real-time data tracking of calories burnt, heart-rate, and miles achieved. Additionally, apps integrated with social media mean instant sharing, improved accountability and better motivation, along with peer support. This last bit is one of the greatest factors in overcoming the psychological blocks – lack of motivation and no instant gratification - towards fitness.

The availability of such technology is exciting. The optimal use of technology enables professionals to have access to accurate ways of helping people live better through improved health and fitness. With fast emerging technological innovations in the industry, it is time to go beyond the traditional ways. Fitness professionals and companies must look at the business from the consumer’s point of view. It is more important to understand how clients want to do things. The next generation of wearables cannot merely focus on collection of biometric data. It must also include the predictive and preventive components, and make fitness-technology interactions more meaningful. The success of fitness professionals does not entirely rely on developing revolutionary apps, but on how these innovations can be used to improve health profiles and better fitness capabilities. This need has revolutionized the wearable category through the introduction of minimal invasive technology in apparels. A tracker on the wrist is already on the verge of being replaced by wearable technology inserted into clothing. While Adidas was the first brand to offer wearable technology in the 1980s, the recent innovations have made it possible for bio-sensor chips to be inserted into pieces of clothing like socks, shorts, leggings, sports bra, etc. These are designed to improve efficacy of wearable trackers, making them highly discreet and increasingly accurate. The algorithms are mimicking a personal coach, tracking activity and technique while simultaneously picking up clues to predict the possibility of injury. 

In addition to collation of user-specific data, fitness technology is simultaneously entering the medical domain with increased research pertaining to development of DNA-tailored wellness solutions. The maximum extent of bespoke fitness services prior to this were broad-spectrum models designed on the basis of few general parameters. DNA-enabled fitness solutions are making it possible to predict the exact nutrition and training suitability of an individual, based on the reactive predisposition of their genes to the constituent elements.

Millennials are known to stretch their imagination to realms beyond. The result has been the advent of immersive fitness concept that encompasses the mindful engagement of our senses. Technology is being used to simulate an environment that elevates the experiences normally associated with exercising. In place of regular gyms that provided very little impetus in terms of mindfulness to enable the enthusiast to push harder, next generation fitness studios are using technology for tactile, auditory and visual stimulation. These have captured the attention of those wishing to push past the plateau, while additionally pampering the senses of smell and taste, through the use of aroma oils and post-workout nutritious beverages and bites.          

Increasingly, fitness centers and health clubs are deploying software-as-a-service (SaaS) for greater efficacies and ease of operations. For instance, Traqade, a revolutionary SaaS application, powered by Gympik,can manage operations, memberships and payment solutions of a fitness centre smoothly; thus enabling it to seamlessly present itself as a professional fitness brand. Apart from bringing in higher margins for the fitness industry, SaaS ensures that fitness managers can manage daily operations more efficiently. From lead follow ups to membership management, staff management to member communication, attendance tracking to cross selling and data analytics, SaaS is all set to become the complete fitness guidebook for the industry. With an app that allows these features, the user will be able to follow their workout schedules and fitness. Having established the importance of a SaaS offering, this dynamic field, where more and more players are eyeing the prize, will belch out anything that does not offer the ultimate consumer experience, in terms of price, design and convenience in adoption.

Today, consumers are looking towards technology to enhance their fitness efforts, and industry predictions suggest that this trend will only grow further. As such, fitness companies will need to adopt new technologies in order to reach new customers as well as ensure quality experience for them. The coalition between technology and fitness is here to stay. The fast-movers will join the bandwagon to continue trending.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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