Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

September 2015

ACE Survey: How Are Wearable Activity Devices Affecting the Fitness Industry?

Whether they count calories, track steps or monitor sleep patterns, many consumers find that measuring their progress and milestones is an important part of their health and fitness routine. So, it's no wonder that wearable devices are becoming ubiquitous, both inside and outside the gym. According to the Consumer Electronics Associations, estimated revenue from fitness and activity tracking devices, which include fitness activity bands, smartwatches and smart eyewear, will reach $5.1 billion in 2015.

In order to better understand the impact of these hugely popular wearable devices, ACE partnered with Inov8 Health to conduct a survey that asked respondents to answer these questions:

  1. How can wearable activity devices positively impact your business?
  2. How can these devices help your clients achieve and sustain success with their individual health and fitness goals?
  3. In regard to your ability to most effectively deliver value through these devices to your clients, what gaps do you believe exist in the wearable devices, the mobile applications and the user experience, and the overall integration within the fitness industry?

Survey results showed that the majority of professionals are hearing questions from their clients about wearable activity devices, but do not always feel qualified or educated enough to answer them.

Here are some highlights from the survey results:

  • 72 percent reported that their clients consistently ask for insight and feedback on such devices, most commonly related to making the purchase, device accuracy, and if they'll help them achieve their goals, but only 51 percent of professionals felt prepared to answer those questions.
  • 75 percent of those who completed the survey said they would be interested in the capability to run fitness challenges with clients using wearable activity devices.
  • 71 percent of respondents currently own a wearable activity device, and 61 percent of those who do not yet own one are considering purchasing one.
  • When asked what gaps exist with the wearable activity devices, the most common responses were: "the inability to track all of my physical activity (strength training, recreational activities, etc.)"; "accuracy"; and "better consumer education on the use of devices (how to set up, how to use, etc.)".

What is missing from the data provided by wearable activity devices is accountability, which is why the fitness industry would be wise to embrace their use and develop a process through which the numbers can transform into programming and progression—and eventual goal attainment. For example, tracking a client's step count and setting goals to increase those numbers—which the trainer can review during each session—can be a good starting point for helping a client achieve a more active lifestyle.

The key takeaway from the survey suggests that better education is needed to ensure clients and trainers are making the most of their investments in wearable technology.

"Wearable activity devices can monitor everything from steps taken and heart rate to calorie expenditure and sleep quality," said Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer at ACE. "However, it's the trainer's job to translate all of these data into a tangible action plan to drive sustainable lifestyle change." Tom Futch, CEO at Inov8 Health, added, "Health and fitness professionals can provide value to their clients when they are not in the gym by using the data to inspire and motivate them to stay active even when they are traveling or unable to have a training session."

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