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Body scanning: Body image

Will the body image debate define the future of fit-tech? Becca Douglas looks at the evidence

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 8

People are facing increasing pressure to achieve levels of perfection in the way they look, causing one in five UK adults to worry about their body image, according to new research from the Mental Health Foundation.

It’s important the health and fitness sector is mindful of how new technology and initiatives are delivered, to ensure we operate responsibly in relation to this challenge.

Results-led approach
Many people join a gym or health club to get results. To understand if these have been achieved, you need to start the process with some form of measurement and continue this throughout the journey.

What we still see in many health and fitness facilities is operators using well established methods to predict fat mass, such as callipers to measure skin folds. While popular, the accuracy of measures from such devices depends on the skill of the person doing the test.

Thanks to fit-tech and advancements in this area we no longer need to rely on manual methods. With just a touch of a button, fitness professionals can offer the end user (and their health and fitness professional) powerful visuals as well as a set of accurate measurements.

Chris Rock from Excelsior says: “For clients that are confident enough to be analysed, body scanning allows for a detailed assessment that provides an initial benchmark. These can be consistently repeated to provide ongoing biometrics, which can be a real motivator to the client, if the results are moving in the right direction!

When it comes to mental health, Rock says:“Even a less than favourable result can be turned into a positive if the client is suitably directed or redirected to modify their behaviour or routine accordingly.”

Rock continues: “Since body scanning allows for numerical values to be generated, and in some cases, a visual representation created, both the client’s logical and emotional needs are more likely to be satisfied, giving better results.

“This combination of measuring body composition in numbers and pictures can be reassuring for clients, particularly if the number on the scale isn’t changing because their body fat is lowering, while their muscle mass is increasing.

“If the assessment method is simply using the scales or taking photographs or using their reflection in the mirror, the client may not gain a true insight into the changes their body is making. Lack of understanding leads to lack of action.”

Phillip Middleton, founder and MD of Derwent says: “Some unhealthy diet and exercise behaviours stem from people having a distorted body image. By using technology to accurately measure body composition we can inform and educate people about their internal body make-up and devise exercise routines to assist them in reaching more reasonable goals, linked to a more healthy lifestyle.

“People join gyms because they want to change their bodies. Surely, we should be in a position to help them achieve this through education and realistic target setting? We can only do this if we have accurate information about their body composition to start with.”

Tracy Morrell, sales director for Styku Europe says: “I find trainers arguing over fat mass percentages, with different methods producing varying results which can be poles apart – all while the member is caught in the middle confused and, at times, demoralised.

“Overall, we focus too much on the numbers. What the industry needs is something that is repeatable – that can show real change – and is visual.

“Styku’s 3D body scanner doesn’t focus on weight, but highlights change. What matters most is measuring this and to do that you need a device that offers repeatable measurements with precision.”

Morrell talks about delivering Styku scans in health clubs across the world: “Used in the right way, having a 3D bodyscan can be a very humbling and motivational process which opens up an honest conversation with the client.

“They see a 3D version of themselves – in all its glory – and for some, this can be troubling but also the incentive they need to get healthy. At this point, it’s over to the PT or fitness professional to lead the conversation and turn any negative emotion and any negative body image connotations into positive motivation that can be channelled by the user to reach their goals.”

Regardless of the technology used, carrying out body scans does require a level of education, knowledge and skill from PTs and fitness professionals. When interpreting these results, it’s never been so vital for PTs to use their emotional intelligence to navigate the feelings and emotions of their members or clients in order to successfully guide them on their individual journeys.

As fitness professionals, they have a duty of care to understand how to interpret possible psychological warning signs that a client may present and in turn know how to offer expert support and adapt a training programme to meet their needs and deter them from fad diets.

Rob Thurston, UK country manager at Inbody says: “With the most recent advances in BIA Body Composition Testing (bioelectrical impedance analysis), the latest technology in devices such as the InBody can give fitness facilities clinical grade testing accuracy, along with a much wider range of body composition data that goes far beyond how much someone’s body fat percentage is and whether that is within the ‘normal range’.

“With direct segmental measurement, alongside body fat measurement, clients can now see a range of health-related information such as visceral fat level (which is correlated with type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease) and muscular imbalance between the left and right limbs or the upper and lower body.

“They can also see localised oedema (swelling) or hydration status, bone mineral levels, basal metabolic rate based on lean muscle mass and Phase Angle score to indicate cell membrane health and nutrition status,” says Thurston.

Morrell continues: “The conversation around fitness and goal setting needs to shift away from body weight and look at overall feelings and results the user can see. When people refer to losing body weight, they often mean losing body fat, which is something completely different. A person can lose inches around their waist but not see much change in the number on the weight scale as they lose fat but gain lean muscle.

“Muscle is approximately 20 per cent denser than fat, so takes up less room. The beauty of a body scan is that it shows what a set of scales can’t: how a person’s shape is changing over time, which can lead to an increase in body positivity from knowing that progress is being made and the hard hours of sweating in the gym have been worth it.

“Body weight is not an accurate reflection of physical condition or fitness levels, so we need to educate health and fitness professionals on how to leverage this kind of fit-tech in order to empower exercisers to feel good about themselves.”

Thurston agrees: “These results and outputs provide the opportunity for the fitness professional to look beyond body image and ‘aesthetics’ and discuss a more rounded approach to body composition, with guidelines to improve overall health, nutrition and functionality.”

Education and interpretation
There is a need to move towards a more evidence-based approach, which prescribes health and wellness (including exercise) as a more holistic state of being where physical, mental and emotional health are all part of the same puzzle, reflected in the services the fit-tech sector and operators provide. With the right education, support and guidance, we can create positive environments, which help people to find and strengthen their intrinsic exercise motivation – leading to healthy, long-term lifestyle behaviours that do not create body image issues.

Morrell adds: “When we work with PTs and gym owners, we spend a great deal of time talking and exploring how to translate the findings into meaningful plans that can deliver results and promote self-esteem. We avoid promoting body dissatisfaction as a motive for change, but, instead, we market and promote investing in overall health as a way to enhance body image, this is particularly important as we move towards a more wellness-based industry – driven largely by millennials.”

Eric G Peake, managing director (north) from Healthcheck Services says: “The term ‘body image’ is how we perceive ourselves physically, and how we believe others to see us. People spend millions of pounds a year on the latest fad diets, but being thin doesn’t necessarily equate to being healthy.

“The CoreVue body composition kiosk gives you an in-depth look into what’s going on inside your body, so people are slowly starting to ditch the quick fix methods and using these machines as a tool to set achievable goals. They soon find that by being able to physically track their results, they’re automatically improving their body image in a positive way, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

The future
Coming at a time when exercisers, particularly the younger age groups, notably millennials and Gen Z, see wellness as a focus of everyday life and something they’re prepared to spend on, fit-tech is going to become more important to meet their demands. In fact, according to research company Forrester, 69 per cent of all fitness wearable owners come from one of those two age groups. That’s why pioneering technology is set to play such a key role in providing the insights that health and fitness operators need to satisfy this new breed of members and support them on their individual paths to improve overall wellness.

While there’s a clear gear change taking place within the industry, the future looks exciting, as fit-tech is constantly evolving to provide us with tools and insights that, previously, we could only dream of. But, as the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility,” so it’s vital that we ensure PTs and fitness professionals receive the right education, allowing them to support and empower members and clients, enabling them to appreciate the results they’re achieving and build a positive self-image.

Phillip Middleton, Derwent
"People join gyms because they want to change their bodies, surely, we should be in a position to the help them achieve this"
Tracy Morrell, Styku
"Overall, I think we focus too much on the numbers. What the industry needs is something that is repeatable, that can show real change, and is visual"
Rob Thurston, Inbody
"With the most recent advances in BIA Body Composition Testing, the latest technology in devices such as the InBody can now give fitness facilities clinical grade testing accuracy"
Chris Rock, Excelsior
"Even a less than favourable result can be turned into a positive if the client is suitably directed or redirected to modify their behaviour or routine accordingly"
Eric G Peake, Healthcheck Service
"People spend millions of pounds a year on the latest fad diets and trends but being thin doesn’t necessarily equate to being healthy"
More features
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Jean-Michel Fournier

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Body image

Will the body image debate define the future of fit-tech? Becca Douglas looks at the evidence

Activelab 2019

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Chris Hemsworth

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Bio Hacking

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Body Insights

Want to know your biological age or your bone density, or maybe get a 3D model printed showing your hard-won new biceps? The latest tech enables this and much more. HCM does a roundup of the new kit on the market for fitness testing and body scanning

In-club Tech

What’s happening in the world of health club management software? We get the inside view from some of the best-known tech companies in the sector

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Cycle revolution

A new age of indoor cycling is upon us, characterised by a more diverse range of bikes and consumers. Steph Eaves breaks down the options in this two-part series

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Video Gallery
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The Best Product for the Best Clubs Read more
Company profiles
Company profile: MoveGB
Move is the fitness marketplace connecting our partners with customers through the largest variety of ...
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Company profile: Stages Indoor Cycling
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Software
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Diary dates
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Exhibition Centre Cologne, Cologne, Germany
01-04 Oct 2020
Exhibition Centre, Cologne, Germany
07 Oct 2020
Palais Brongniart, Paris, France
features

Body scanning: Body image

Will the body image debate define the future of fit-tech? Becca Douglas looks at the evidence

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 8

People are facing increasing pressure to achieve levels of perfection in the way they look, causing one in five UK adults to worry about their body image, according to new research from the Mental Health Foundation.

It’s important the health and fitness sector is mindful of how new technology and initiatives are delivered, to ensure we operate responsibly in relation to this challenge.

Results-led approach
Many people join a gym or health club to get results. To understand if these have been achieved, you need to start the process with some form of measurement and continue this throughout the journey.

What we still see in many health and fitness facilities is operators using well established methods to predict fat mass, such as callipers to measure skin folds. While popular, the accuracy of measures from such devices depends on the skill of the person doing the test.

Thanks to fit-tech and advancements in this area we no longer need to rely on manual methods. With just a touch of a button, fitness professionals can offer the end user (and their health and fitness professional) powerful visuals as well as a set of accurate measurements.

Chris Rock from Excelsior says: “For clients that are confident enough to be analysed, body scanning allows for a detailed assessment that provides an initial benchmark. These can be consistently repeated to provide ongoing biometrics, which can be a real motivator to the client, if the results are moving in the right direction!

When it comes to mental health, Rock says:“Even a less than favourable result can be turned into a positive if the client is suitably directed or redirected to modify their behaviour or routine accordingly.”

Rock continues: “Since body scanning allows for numerical values to be generated, and in some cases, a visual representation created, both the client’s logical and emotional needs are more likely to be satisfied, giving better results.

“This combination of measuring body composition in numbers and pictures can be reassuring for clients, particularly if the number on the scale isn’t changing because their body fat is lowering, while their muscle mass is increasing.

“If the assessment method is simply using the scales or taking photographs or using their reflection in the mirror, the client may not gain a true insight into the changes their body is making. Lack of understanding leads to lack of action.”

Phillip Middleton, founder and MD of Derwent says: “Some unhealthy diet and exercise behaviours stem from people having a distorted body image. By using technology to accurately measure body composition we can inform and educate people about their internal body make-up and devise exercise routines to assist them in reaching more reasonable goals, linked to a more healthy lifestyle.

“People join gyms because they want to change their bodies. Surely, we should be in a position to help them achieve this through education and realistic target setting? We can only do this if we have accurate information about their body composition to start with.”

Tracy Morrell, sales director for Styku Europe says: “I find trainers arguing over fat mass percentages, with different methods producing varying results which can be poles apart – all while the member is caught in the middle confused and, at times, demoralised.

“Overall, we focus too much on the numbers. What the industry needs is something that is repeatable – that can show real change – and is visual.

“Styku’s 3D body scanner doesn’t focus on weight, but highlights change. What matters most is measuring this and to do that you need a device that offers repeatable measurements with precision.”

Morrell talks about delivering Styku scans in health clubs across the world: “Used in the right way, having a 3D bodyscan can be a very humbling and motivational process which opens up an honest conversation with the client.

“They see a 3D version of themselves – in all its glory – and for some, this can be troubling but also the incentive they need to get healthy. At this point, it’s over to the PT or fitness professional to lead the conversation and turn any negative emotion and any negative body image connotations into positive motivation that can be channelled by the user to reach their goals.”

Regardless of the technology used, carrying out body scans does require a level of education, knowledge and skill from PTs and fitness professionals. When interpreting these results, it’s never been so vital for PTs to use their emotional intelligence to navigate the feelings and emotions of their members or clients in order to successfully guide them on their individual journeys.

As fitness professionals, they have a duty of care to understand how to interpret possible psychological warning signs that a client may present and in turn know how to offer expert support and adapt a training programme to meet their needs and deter them from fad diets.

Rob Thurston, UK country manager at Inbody says: “With the most recent advances in BIA Body Composition Testing (bioelectrical impedance analysis), the latest technology in devices such as the InBody can give fitness facilities clinical grade testing accuracy, along with a much wider range of body composition data that goes far beyond how much someone’s body fat percentage is and whether that is within the ‘normal range’.

“With direct segmental measurement, alongside body fat measurement, clients can now see a range of health-related information such as visceral fat level (which is correlated with type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease) and muscular imbalance between the left and right limbs or the upper and lower body.

“They can also see localised oedema (swelling) or hydration status, bone mineral levels, basal metabolic rate based on lean muscle mass and Phase Angle score to indicate cell membrane health and nutrition status,” says Thurston.

Morrell continues: “The conversation around fitness and goal setting needs to shift away from body weight and look at overall feelings and results the user can see. When people refer to losing body weight, they often mean losing body fat, which is something completely different. A person can lose inches around their waist but not see much change in the number on the weight scale as they lose fat but gain lean muscle.

“Muscle is approximately 20 per cent denser than fat, so takes up less room. The beauty of a body scan is that it shows what a set of scales can’t: how a person’s shape is changing over time, which can lead to an increase in body positivity from knowing that progress is being made and the hard hours of sweating in the gym have been worth it.

“Body weight is not an accurate reflection of physical condition or fitness levels, so we need to educate health and fitness professionals on how to leverage this kind of fit-tech in order to empower exercisers to feel good about themselves.”

Thurston agrees: “These results and outputs provide the opportunity for the fitness professional to look beyond body image and ‘aesthetics’ and discuss a more rounded approach to body composition, with guidelines to improve overall health, nutrition and functionality.”

Education and interpretation
There is a need to move towards a more evidence-based approach, which prescribes health and wellness (including exercise) as a more holistic state of being where physical, mental and emotional health are all part of the same puzzle, reflected in the services the fit-tech sector and operators provide. With the right education, support and guidance, we can create positive environments, which help people to find and strengthen their intrinsic exercise motivation – leading to healthy, long-term lifestyle behaviours that do not create body image issues.

Morrell adds: “When we work with PTs and gym owners, we spend a great deal of time talking and exploring how to translate the findings into meaningful plans that can deliver results and promote self-esteem. We avoid promoting body dissatisfaction as a motive for change, but, instead, we market and promote investing in overall health as a way to enhance body image, this is particularly important as we move towards a more wellness-based industry – driven largely by millennials.”

Eric G Peake, managing director (north) from Healthcheck Services says: “The term ‘body image’ is how we perceive ourselves physically, and how we believe others to see us. People spend millions of pounds a year on the latest fad diets, but being thin doesn’t necessarily equate to being healthy.

“The CoreVue body composition kiosk gives you an in-depth look into what’s going on inside your body, so people are slowly starting to ditch the quick fix methods and using these machines as a tool to set achievable goals. They soon find that by being able to physically track their results, they’re automatically improving their body image in a positive way, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

The future
Coming at a time when exercisers, particularly the younger age groups, notably millennials and Gen Z, see wellness as a focus of everyday life and something they’re prepared to spend on, fit-tech is going to become more important to meet their demands. In fact, according to research company Forrester, 69 per cent of all fitness wearable owners come from one of those two age groups. That’s why pioneering technology is set to play such a key role in providing the insights that health and fitness operators need to satisfy this new breed of members and support them on their individual paths to improve overall wellness.

While there’s a clear gear change taking place within the industry, the future looks exciting, as fit-tech is constantly evolving to provide us with tools and insights that, previously, we could only dream of. But, as the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility,” so it’s vital that we ensure PTs and fitness professionals receive the right education, allowing them to support and empower members and clients, enabling them to appreciate the results they’re achieving and build a positive self-image.

Phillip Middleton, Derwent
"People join gyms because they want to change their bodies, surely, we should be in a position to the help them achieve this"
Tracy Morrell, Styku
"Overall, I think we focus too much on the numbers. What the industry needs is something that is repeatable, that can show real change, and is visual"
Rob Thurston, Inbody
"With the most recent advances in BIA Body Composition Testing, the latest technology in devices such as the InBody can now give fitness facilities clinical grade testing accuracy"
Chris Rock, Excelsior
"Even a less than favourable result can be turned into a positive if the client is suitably directed or redirected to modify their behaviour or routine accordingly"
Eric G Peake, Healthcheck Service
"People spend millions of pounds a year on the latest fad diets and trends but being thin doesn’t necessarily equate to being healthy"
More features
people

Jean-Michel Fournier

CEO, Les Mills Media
In the long term, the fitness industry will utilise technological advances in augmented reality and holographic telepresence

Sight & sound

The audio visual aspect of your club is one of the biggest factors in keeping members motivated and engaged with your offering. So how can you optimise this? We asked four of the top audio visual suppliers in the industry for their tips

Artificial intelligence

When you hear the words ‘artificial intelligence’, do you think of talking computers and helpful androids? Think again. We find out how AI can be used in fitness
people

Rachael Blumberg

Platefit: creator and founder
People know yoga, Pilates, HIIT and Barry’s Bootcamp, but many don’t know vibration training and it’s my intention, passion and purpose to make it available and bring it to the world
people

José Teixeira

SC Fitness, Portugal: head of customer experience
People often assume that those who pay more stay longer, but we don’t see this. What we see is that if you have PT you stay longer because you use more, not because you pay more
interview

Paul Juris

Director of sports science, Brooklyn Boulders
We’re trying to help people understand exactly how much effort they need to apply in order to get the best outcome, so they can do it over a long period of time and not burn out. The overall training effect is then much better
people

Andrew Grill

Practical Futurist
Your marketing department will have to start writing ad copy for robots, not for humans. These digital agents will be gatekeepers, a bit like a PA. It’s already happening, so get ahead and start using it

Body image

Will the body image debate define the future of fit-tech? Becca Douglas looks at the evidence

Activelab 2019

Following the ActiveLab Live! finale at the recent Active Uprising conference, we take a look at startups that are using technology to help people become healthier and more active
people

Ben Keenan

SUF Cycling: commercial director
This isn’t a spin around the park: SUF Cycling requires participants to dig deep, which can push some people not used to HIIT out of their comfort zone

The middle man

Many industries have aggregators so it makes sense for the health and fitness industry to have them too. Are they a force for the good, or could it become a case of the tail wagging the dog? Kath Hudson reports
celebs

Chris Hemsworth

I believe we all have untapped potential. And we all need support to achieve our goals. Centr puts the world’s best in the palm of your hand, to help you develop a healthier body, stronger mind, and a happier life - CHRIS HEMSWORTH

Bio Hacking

Silicon Valley hacker Dave Asprey used his tech skills to gather the latest fitness kit to create a bio hacking boutique. Kath Hudson investigates

Tech upgrade

New technology is transforming the way the health and fitness industry functions and interacts with customers. Liz Terry catches up with operators around the industry for an update

Get upgraded

HCM asks the industry’s leading software suppliers about the new tech and software features you can look forward to getting your hands on in 2019

Body Insights

Want to know your biological age or your bone density, or maybe get a 3D model printed showing your hard-won new biceps? The latest tech enables this and much more. HCM does a roundup of the new kit on the market for fitness testing and body scanning

In-club Tech

What’s happening in the world of health club management software? We get the inside view from some of the best-known tech companies in the sector

How can clubs get the most out of virtual?

HCM’s Steph Eaves gets tips from our panel of experts

Cycle revolution

A new age of indoor cycling is upon us, characterised by a more diverse range of bikes and consumers. Steph Eaves breaks down the options in this two-part series

Body composition analysers

Body composition analysers are an excellent way to differentiate your club, as well as help your members get results. Kath Hudson reports
interview

Matthew Allison, Space Cycle

I want to build a social lifestyle brand that combines music and wellness to create something that inspires people. I want to change the way people think of working out, so it’s like going to a club or a concert

Health club management software

We asked some of the biggest names in health club management software to share their predictions for the future

ActiveLab 2018: Meet the startups in fit-tech

Following the ActiveLab Live! finale at the recent Active Uprising conference, we take a look at startups seeking to solve some of society’s biggest challenges through technology designed to get people active

Smart and flexible member payments

Providing customers with the best member experience, while maximising revenue, is vital. We look at the latest in customer centric payment solutions

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Company profiles
Company profile: MoveGB
Move is the fitness marketplace connecting our partners with customers through the largest variety of ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Stages Indoor Cycling
Stages Indoor Cycling is a product and technology company that is 100% focused on creating ...
Video Gallery
How to use the MZ-Bodyscan
MyZone
The Best Product for the Best Clubs Read more
Get Fit Tech
Sign up for the free digital edition of Fit Tech magazine and the free weekly Fit Tech ezine
Sign up
Directory
Spa software
ResortSuite: Spa software
Direct debit solutions
Harlands Group: Direct debit solutions
Software
Book4Time Inc: Software
Fitness equipment
Technogym: Fitness equipment
Locking solutions
Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
Diary dates
03-05 Aug 2020
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore
30 Sep 2020
Exhibition Centre Cologne, Cologne, Germany
01-04 Oct 2020
Exhibition Centre, Cologne, Germany
07 Oct 2020
Palais Brongniart, Paris, France
MyZone
MyZone