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What Does the Future Hold? widespread. “The club will provide the portal that a member can use to access their content. If they have Hulu, or Netflix, or whatever–– they’ll be able to tune into their accounts right from the equipment.” Fitness-tracking finesse That sort of precise tailoring won’t end with the entertainment component, but will extend into the workout itself, as well. When a user approaches a leg press machine, for example, it might automatically set itself to the correct Tony resistance for that individual’s regimen, adjust- Al Rousseau Garcia ing it midway through the workout. It could also provide the user with advice on how to get the most out of their time with the machine. “I do think we’ll see something that provides instant feedback,” speculates Rousseau. “People want to know that they’re getting results. So maybe there will be built-in technology that remembers your last workout session and plans your next one to help you reach your goal, or a virtual coach that pushes you to the next level.” The data to do so will likely come from the machine’s ability to communicate with a wearable tracking device, a futuristic version of today’s FitBits and Nike FuelBands. “What we’re seeing today is just the start of these fitness-tracking devices,” says Bryan O’Rourke, a principal in Integerus, LLC, and president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (FITC), both of Covington, Louisiana. “In the future, they’re going to offer so much more. They’ll be able to let the operator know when a member is in the club, and will download information about their most recent workouts to the club’s equipment. If, for instance, a member went for a run outside, using a mapping app or a fitness tracker, that information will be stored and shared with the club, and the equipment will use it to plot a personalized workout.” “Eventually, cutting-edge, face-detection/recognition technology could be utilized to automatically identify and monitor the user of a piece of club equipment,” predicts Tony Garcia, the president of MYE Entertainment, Inc. Infinite exercise interaction For this type of seamless interaction to occur, the fitness industry will have to achieve a high degree of interoperability. Machines produced by different manufacturers will have to be able to communicate with one another—something that they can’t do today. O’Rourke is confident this will occur—in large part, because it’s the only way to provide users with the smooth, intuitive, and efficient exercise experience they’ll expect in years to come. “The industry has seen an explosion of exercise equipment connectivity solutions during the last few years, with ‘open-platform’ systems becoming more of a standard offering,” notes Garcia. “There’s a tremendous opportunity for manufacturers to work together to provide solutions to operators’ needs.” Going forward, fitness-tracking devices will do more than just communicate with the club and its con- nected equipment. In all probability, they’ll also share information with doctors and other healthcare providers, and perhaps even employers and insurance companies that require individuals to work out regularly to obtain a discount on their premiums. Now for a hard question: Will this type of information sharing tend to make some club services obsolete? Hardly, say the experts. Rather, it should position the club, as it were, at the center of the member’s lifestyle, suggests Nerio Alessandri, the president and founder of Technogym, the Cesena, Italy–based equipment producer. The company’s Wellness on the Go platform, which was introduced at IHRSA’s 33rd Annual International Convention and Trade Show in March, is a step in that direction. It allows Technogym equipment to access a member’s fitness data, entered from their computer or smartphone, which is then stored in the cloud. The concept, Alessandri insists, is going to grow and expand. “The future is going to be about personalization,” he predicts. “The challenge for clubs will be to offer every person a totally different wellness experience—it’s not going to be the same recipe for everyone. The club will be the hub for their lifestyle. And this represents a real opportunity for the club staff. They’ll 52 Club Business International | JUNE 2014 | ihrsa.org Download the Free IHRSA App: ihrsa.org/app