Fitness goes mobile – Beyond fitness apps & wearables
Technology changes everything – and the fitness industry is not an exception to this rule. A great indicator of this is the fitness app market, which has grown rapidly in recent years. 2015 saw fitness app usage increase by 52%.
Mobile technology is changing the shape of this industry, as members employ it to engage customers better. Here are some ways in which the pursuit of fitness and health has changed in the smartphone era.
Aggregators allow users to find their fitness sweet spot
Many of us want to get fit. So we join a gym, or a yoga class with great enthusiasm.
Somewhere down the line though, that enthusiasm dies. This can be for a number of reasons
- Boredom from doing the same routine,
- Lack of time/willpower to adjust timings,
- Trying out an activity and not liking it, and so on
As a result, we stop going. Burned once, we hesitate to join again.
At the side of the service provider, this leads to empty slots and large dropouts.
Attempting to solve these problems are companies like ClassPass in the USA, and Classverse, Gympic, Fitternity in various Indian cities. These services try to solve these issues by giving their users access to several fitness service providers – gyms, tennis courts, aerobics and dance classes, yoga classes, and many more – for the price of a monthly subscription. They don’t tie users in to one activity, allowing them to experiment to see if they like an activity, to work out if the location and timings suit them, and break routine when they need to.
They also help fitness service providers fill in empty slots, so that dropouts don’t affect them so much.
Workout apps bring fitness to wherever the users are
Some folks find it difficult to get to a gym or a class on a regular basis due to their schedules. Others just want to get fit from inside their homes, for reasons of preference or laziness.
The only option for such people was a personal trainer, but this can be prohibitively expensive. Mobile technology has brought the gym and the trainer home, at a far more reasonable price point than a personal trainer.
Sworkit, for example, show users how to exercise without any equipment with personalized video workouts. A number of 7 Minute Workout apps, including one from Johnson & Johnson, are available for users who find it difficult to take out time to work out.
The personal trainer has taken on a digital avatar, transitioning from an actual physical presence or exercise videos to an interactive experience accessible from your tablet or mobile phone.
Tracking everything fitness
You can’t know where you are going, if you don’t know where you’ve been. I’ve seen people use this quote in various contexts – speaking about money management, personal development and health.
Tracking apps take this philosophy to heart, helping users to track
- What they’re eating (My Fitness Pal, Lose It!)
- How much and how fast they’re running, cycling and walking (Strava, Endomondo, Runkeeper)
- How much sleep they’re getting, and of what quality (Sleep Cycle, Sleep as Android)
Many such apps go beyond just tracking, offering the ability to connect with a personal coach or trainer who monitors the users’ data and offers advice. In addition, these apps generate mounds of data, particularly useful for the food and sporting goods industry.
Fitness based mobile applications and wearable devices show rapid growth. Data sources – Gartner, Flurry Analytics
Wearable tech puts fitness on the mind (and the wrist)
Taking things a step further from mobile app based trackers are wearables – smartwatches and fitness bands which have started seeing some traction over the last 2 years . Fitness bands are moving into the mainstream, and have moved far beyond the simple step counting instruments that they started off as. Companies like Fitbit, Jawbone, and Misfit are packing in more sensors and refining their algorithms to make their devices do more and more. Apart from step counting, today’s fitness bands
- track their users running pace, distance and route,
- measure heart-rate and body temperature,
- track sleep patterns and wake up their users at the perfect time,
- talk to smartphones to do a number of things like inform the wearer of an incoming call, or work the music player to select the best songs for motivating a runner
Most trackers come with their own smartphone app to help users see their stats, and provide training and diet advice based on them.
Seeing the success of fitness bands and of the Pebble smartwatch, smartphone makers like Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi have jumped into the arena, with a slew of smartwatch releases over the last 2 years. Smartwatches are still to catch on, but the industry is betting on them heavily. Even watch manufacturers have got into the act.
Sales of fitness activity trackers are expected to hit $28.7 billion in 2016, and the products are still evolving, with experts expecting wearable tech to grow more powerful and less visible in the future.
Fitness becomes social
Recognizing the motivational power of a fitness power, and of social encouragement, many apps have introduced a social component.
Most tracking apps integrate with social media channels to allow users to share their goals and achievements with their friends and family, to increase accountability and provide encouragement.
The social element of fitness extends to more than just social media integration. Endomondo, for example, includes several social motivators in its product including access to a global fitness community to provide users with encouragement and regular fitness challenges to drum up excitement and allow users to compete towards a fitness goal.
Some apps help users find virtual and physical company for their chosen fitness activity, linking them to groups of people with who want to do similar activities. An interesting take on this is Sweatt, positioned as a dating app for the fitness community, which allows its users to discover each other based on lifestyle and fitness habits.
Gamification – Converting fitness into entertainment
A frequently heard reason for not exercising or jogging is – I know it’s good for me, but it’s so boring!!
I personally prefer to get my exercise through a game of tennis or football, but lack of time and space makes this not always possible to do. (This is probably the reason for my slightly more than healthy appearance).
A few inventive apps seek to make fitness a game, so that people enjoy the process and are more likely to sustain the habit.
Zombies, Run! Is one such game which makes users run, walk or jog to collect supplies and complete missions while being chased by zombies (virtual ones, of course!). In Superhero Workout, users play the role of a superhero who must save humanity by completing various exercises to activate weapons and shields on a unique battle suit.
Gamification can be a powerful tool to build habits, and the fitness industry is making great use of this.
If you’re in the fitness business, and are considering ways to engage your customers, we’re here to help. Tech Morphosis is an app and web development studio, and we’ve previously worked with Gold’s Gym to develop their app My Daily Fitness Guide. Contact us via our website, call us @9820585666 or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please mention how you found out about us for a free consultation and/or quote.