Gadgets in the Gym

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Wristbands that count your steps, clothing that monitors your heartbeat, watches that know when you’re asleep — in a market continually and increasingly flooded with fitness gadgets, it’s useful to keep track of the latest ones and to consider what, if anything, is the role of gyms and fitness centers in relation to them. When your clients have them, how can — and should — you make use of them?

In a recent post on the American Council on Exercise’s website, Ted Vickey, the former executive director of the White House Athletic Center, reviews three such products, each of which has recently launched:

  • The Basis Watch
  • UnderArmour’s Armour39
  • The FitBit Flex

What these devices have in common is their on-body sensors which make them more accurate than mobile fitness apps.  Theses gadgets can track heart rate, number of steps, time, and even blood pressure.
All well and good, but again, as a gym or fitness center, or as a personal trainer or instructor, how can you help clients use such devices to get the most out of their workouts?

As with the data that basic exercise machines give about a workout, clients should be reminded to see their numbers in two ways: first, as monitors that tell them when they need to push harder and when they need to pull back; and second, as motivators. The best thing about workout-related numbers — whether they’re from an on-body sensor, a machine, a mobile app, or good, old-fashioned counting — is the encouragement they give individuals to compete with themselves. As a service provider in the fitness industry, you can help clients get the most from their gadgets by paying attention to the data their gadgets are tracking. Point out when a client has surpassed a personal best and provide tips for success to clients who are trying to reach a specific number.  You might even consider installing an on-the-wall chart that highlights the previous day’s highest numbers in various categories.

Moreover, know how to use the devices clients are using. Vickey has pursued a PhD in technology and fitness; that’s not an option for everyone, but you can still keep yourself up to date on what products are out there, how to use them, what the pros and cons of each one is, and which work best for which purposes (The American Council on Exercise’s website is a good place to start). Your clients come to your facility in part because they need the expertise of you and your staff; provide that expertise partly in the form of knowledge in not only fitness, but the gadgets in the gym.