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22.08.2016

Technology, Fitness, Spartans and Data: Part Two

In part one I talked about my current shape and the challenges that I face in the coming months. So let’s look at the technologies that I have been using in my everyday training regime and the data they produce as I prepare myself to get in shape for the Spartan Sprint, Spartan Super and The Grim Original. I will be completing all of these events for the child’s cancer charity http://www.clicsargent.org.uk/.

In this Blog I’m going to talk a little bit about my most commonly used piece of wearable tech, The Myzone MZ-3 belt. Every morning when I wake at 5.15 am to either hit the gym or go for a run I put this belt on as soon as I’m out of bed. With a reassuring ‘beep, beep’ I know the belt is active and has begun monitoring my heart rate, calories, efforts and MEPs. So from the minute I am awake my data is being tracked. By either logging into my phone or arriving at the gym I can view my data live. The data is presented in an easy and presentable format:

In data centre terms this is almost like a monitored cabinet PDU attached to a user friendly BMS / EMS within a data centre. The MZ-3 is monitoring my status, feeding back and recording the information it gathers. The example above is of a single device and the information it gathers. Now think of the gym as a data centre and what you are presented with is something like this:

Due to the nature of my work with data centres I was immediately interested in where my data is going, what it is being used for and was also interested to learn that although my gym displays my progress on multiple TV screens while I am training they are not actually allowed to gather or store the data that Myzone tracks.

I thought I’d reach out to the man who developed the technology. The technology was developed by Dave Wright, who has 11 clubs in two continents operating under the Feelgood Fitness and Voyage Fitness brands serving over 20,000 members. In addition, he has provided marketing solutions to health and fitness operators for 25 years through his company CFM.

“Over the last 25 years, we have attracted one million new members for health club operators through CFM, but the problem is that half of these new members leave every year. According to IHRSA statistics, if members visit a club 100 times a year compared to just 50 times, they will stay 18 months longer.  I wanted to find a way of keeping members in clubs for longer,” said Wright.

“There are a number of key challenges faced by operators in retaining members. These include: the industry’s trend for rewarding fitness instead of effort, a lack of accountability and time among members, home workouts and competition from external consumer fitness products, sustaining motivation among members, no club gamification, a lack of trainer connection with members and ultimately, no sense of tribe among members”, he continues.

Wright had always used heart rate monitors in his facilities, but in 2009 he considered how the technology could be advanced to solve the issues identified above. He believed a system that allowed the wireless transfer of data stored on a heart rate monitor would be beneficial so that gym users could use the monitors both in and outside of a club, with the data being automatically uploaded when they returned to the gym, which could revolutionise the gym experience.

He outsourced the development of the new product to a manufacturing company, while starting to create a buzz about the new MYZONE® product in the fitness industry.

The technology rewards the effort that members put into their workouts, rather than fitness, giving users MYZONE® Effort Points (MEPs) for every minute they spend exercising in their personal intensity zones. The more effort they put in, the more MEPS they accumulate and the closer they get to achieve the results they want. Measuring activity as a percentage of the user’s maximum heart rate creates a level playing field allowing members to compete against each other regardless of their level of fitness. It means operators can run challenges in their club, with other clubs, nationally and internationally, creating a fun and sociable gym experience.

The technology is suitable for all fitness levels, and as such is utilised by elite athletes as well as those new to exercise or people suffering medical conditions.  It puts trainers into the role of coach. They know exactly how hard their clients are working and can encourage and give feedback on their activity between scheduled sessions.

At the same time, the technology gives members accountability when they are away from the gym. Between visits, they can view their live effort stream through the free MYZONE® app and can view their daily, weekly or even yearly effort levels to see how they’ve progressed.

MYZONE® creates a sense of tribe among members who can take part in friendly competition in the club and share their workouts via Facebook or Twitter.

According to the ACSM, wearable tech is the number one fitness trend in 2016. Not only was MYZONE® ahead of its time, it’s the only wearable created for the fitness industry to solve its unique problems, says Wright.

“Our ultimate goal in creating MYZONE® was to give operators a tool that would help them engage with members and keep them using their clubs for longer. It gives them a unique insight into the key metrics and behaviours of their membership and for the first time, club managers can stay connected with members whether they use the club every day, once a month or not at all.”

Keep an eye out for the next installment of Technology, Fitness, Spartans and Data where I interview Dave Wright, Myzone CEO on the data they collect. Click hear to read Part One again and to make a donation please click here.

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