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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Talking point: 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

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 11

The AI revolution is ramping up across many industries, although not quite in the way futurists predicted.

Rather than machines that emulate the human mind, the majority of today’s AI technologies consist of sophisticated algorithms that analyse data rapidly to carry out specific tasks. Through machine learning, they can adapt to new situations as they take in more data, making them far more flexible than the more rigid, static programmes of the past.

Our experts explain how AI can be used across the fitness industry, why we should embrace it and the benefits it can bring.

David Minton, Director, LeisureDB
David Minton

Ground-breaking technology such as AI and Machine Learning is way ahead of fitness industry practices, desires and dreams. The main reason being that many fitness sites currently lack the granular data and infrastructure necessary to obtain real AI.

This means our industry is looking through the rear-view mirror at where it’s been, not where it’s going. This is of no use to the consumer and limited use to the operator.

Data remains the industry’s most underutilised asset, yet it’s the foundational element that makes AI so powerful. Unstructured data is difficult to use, which is probably why so few techies develop for fitness compared to other industries.

A lack of granular data has held back Reserve with Google, for example, where the ‘leisure’ market – hotels, restaurants, cinema, beauty and even hair salons – have developed the most integrations so far.

"In 2005 I wrote, ‘if we worked in the pornographic industry, we’d know what a member is, but because we work in the fitness industry, there’s no hard rule, so to speak’ "

My grandchildren love talking to Alexa and Siri, the always-ready, connected, virtual assistants. Yet these ten-year-old twins soon discovered the virtual assistants know nothing about the sports clubs, leisure centres and swimming pools they use.

Back in 2005 I wrote, “if we worked in the pornographic industry, we would all know what a member is, but because we work in the fitness industry there’s no hard rule to follow, so to speak”. For AI to work, there needs to be API access to structured, live granular data. The question of data integrity must be addressed by the industry and it must be totally consumer-focused if we are to take advantage of what AI has to offer.

Bryan O’Rourke
President, The Fitness Industry Technology Council
Bryan O’Rourke

In fitness, AI continues to have the potential to enhance efficiency and improve revenues. Chatbots are increasingly being deployed to engage and simulate personalised human interactions. Fitness apps deploy personalised solutions relying on AI tech as well.

However, the adoption of these tools is not robust at this point and it will be some years before the industry benefits from both machine learning and AI. The reason for this is that most club operators do not have a single source of reliable data, most have not made great strides in executing a digital transformation, and, finally, most do not have a true AI strategy.

To take advantage of AI’s enormous potential, organisations have a long way to go in developing the core practices that enable them to realise that potential value at scale. Most fitness chain operators have not mapped out where, across the organisation, all potential AI opportunities lie, as they have no strategy. Many have not made significant progress on their digital transformation, and do not have single sources of data to enable the adoption of AI at this point.

Until these issues are dealt with, the adoption of AI capabilities will be limited.

Shai Neiger, CEO, CoachAi
Shai Neiger

There’s a lot of buzz about AI – computer programmes designed to mimic or simulate human intelligence.

The concept has been around since the 1950s, but it’s only in the last decade that technology has advanced enough for AI to become a viable tool for use in business.

AI adapts its own design in response to insights derived from real-world data. It also helps us make sense of large quantities of data, to detect patterns, and make decisions based on insight.

It’s one of the tools we use at CoachAi to understand and solve the challenge of behavioural change; which factors influence whether someone will create a lifelong exercise habit or fizzle out after three weeks? When and how should we intervene along the course of their journey? Should we change our approach based on where they live? Whether they’re male or female? Aged 19 or 56?

"AI has the capacity to act autonomously and to adapt over time to reach new heights of performance"

AI is in the spotlight because it represents a new era of efficiency. Unlike the previous generation of technology, which requires constant dashboard monitoring and intervention on the part of operators, AI has the capacity to act autonomously and to adapt over time to reach new heights of performance. As more and more health club operators implement AI solutions, they’ll enjoy reduced staffing and operational costs, while offering smart, personalised member experiences.

In the future, this will become the health and fitness industry standard, even for large-scale operators.

Ian Mullane
Founder and CEO of KeepMe
Ian Mullane

Some organisations within the UK are more hesitant to adopt new technology than our friends across the pond or in Asia, and AI is no exception.

This could be due to a lack of understanding, or a belief that it’s complicated, but the potential benefits for health and fitness operators are huge when it comes to member retention.

AI is not a solution to the challenge of low retention rates, but it can provide operators with a useful level of insight to show where to take action and equip them with the tools to do so at scale.

Right now, many operators don’t have accurate insights into which members are likely to leave and need this, along with a time window to change the outcome. AI can do this at the member level and in doing so, open up a new world of understanding on what drives attrition. Is there a higher risk with a particular membership type, gender or age? Do members that attend a specific group exercise class present less risk than those that don’t, for example?

All of these and more pieces of knowledge are available via AI to help define what actions should be taken.

"AI is not a solution to the challenge of low retention rates, but it can provide operators with a useful level of insight to show where to take action and then equip them with the tools to do so at scale"

Introducing an AI tool enhances the human resources you have, allowing them to target their member interactions to where it will have the most impact.

You know the value that personal interaction plays in retention, but having a worthwhile engagement with every member is not possible. With AI, you’re equipped to understand which interactions are likely to have the most impact, ensuring that however many engagements you have, they will have been with the most appropriate people.

You’re sitting on gold in the form of data, and AI could unlock its secrets. Many European and US operators have already realised this and are reaping the rewards of deployment with impressive increases in retention and operational efficiency.

I hope UK health and fitness operators will quickly see the potential, so we can start to see the necessary improvement in member retention so often desire.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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In today's rapidly evolving fitness industry, where many online courses promise secret formulas for entrepreneurial success, the reality is that few provide the necessary knowledge to thrive in this fast-changing profession.
Panatta's mission is to create machines that are aesthetically pleasing, functional and competitive in price ...
Balanced Body is the global leader in Pilates equipment and education. Founded over 47 years ...
Core Health & Fitness: level up your HIIT game
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Looking to level up your HIIT game? Meet the dynamic duo that’s about to revolutionize your workouts: the StairMaster HIIT Rower and HIIT Ski! Read more
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features

Talking point: 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

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 11

The AI revolution is ramping up across many industries, although not quite in the way futurists predicted.

Rather than machines that emulate the human mind, the majority of today’s AI technologies consist of sophisticated algorithms that analyse data rapidly to carry out specific tasks. Through machine learning, they can adapt to new situations as they take in more data, making them far more flexible than the more rigid, static programmes of the past.

Our experts explain how AI can be used across the fitness industry, why we should embrace it and the benefits it can bring.

David Minton, Director, LeisureDB
David Minton

Ground-breaking technology such as AI and Machine Learning is way ahead of fitness industry practices, desires and dreams. The main reason being that many fitness sites currently lack the granular data and infrastructure necessary to obtain real AI.

This means our industry is looking through the rear-view mirror at where it’s been, not where it’s going. This is of no use to the consumer and limited use to the operator.

Data remains the industry’s most underutilised asset, yet it’s the foundational element that makes AI so powerful. Unstructured data is difficult to use, which is probably why so few techies develop for fitness compared to other industries.

A lack of granular data has held back Reserve with Google, for example, where the ‘leisure’ market – hotels, restaurants, cinema, beauty and even hair salons – have developed the most integrations so far.

"In 2005 I wrote, ‘if we worked in the pornographic industry, we’d know what a member is, but because we work in the fitness industry, there’s no hard rule, so to speak’ "

My grandchildren love talking to Alexa and Siri, the always-ready, connected, virtual assistants. Yet these ten-year-old twins soon discovered the virtual assistants know nothing about the sports clubs, leisure centres and swimming pools they use.

Back in 2005 I wrote, “if we worked in the pornographic industry, we would all know what a member is, but because we work in the fitness industry there’s no hard rule to follow, so to speak”. For AI to work, there needs to be API access to structured, live granular data. The question of data integrity must be addressed by the industry and it must be totally consumer-focused if we are to take advantage of what AI has to offer.

Bryan O’Rourke
President, The Fitness Industry Technology Council
Bryan O’Rourke

In fitness, AI continues to have the potential to enhance efficiency and improve revenues. Chatbots are increasingly being deployed to engage and simulate personalised human interactions. Fitness apps deploy personalised solutions relying on AI tech as well.

However, the adoption of these tools is not robust at this point and it will be some years before the industry benefits from both machine learning and AI. The reason for this is that most club operators do not have a single source of reliable data, most have not made great strides in executing a digital transformation, and, finally, most do not have a true AI strategy.

To take advantage of AI’s enormous potential, organisations have a long way to go in developing the core practices that enable them to realise that potential value at scale. Most fitness chain operators have not mapped out where, across the organisation, all potential AI opportunities lie, as they have no strategy. Many have not made significant progress on their digital transformation, and do not have single sources of data to enable the adoption of AI at this point.

Until these issues are dealt with, the adoption of AI capabilities will be limited.

Shai Neiger, CEO, CoachAi
Shai Neiger

There’s a lot of buzz about AI – computer programmes designed to mimic or simulate human intelligence.

The concept has been around since the 1950s, but it’s only in the last decade that technology has advanced enough for AI to become a viable tool for use in business.

AI adapts its own design in response to insights derived from real-world data. It also helps us make sense of large quantities of data, to detect patterns, and make decisions based on insight.

It’s one of the tools we use at CoachAi to understand and solve the challenge of behavioural change; which factors influence whether someone will create a lifelong exercise habit or fizzle out after three weeks? When and how should we intervene along the course of their journey? Should we change our approach based on where they live? Whether they’re male or female? Aged 19 or 56?

"AI has the capacity to act autonomously and to adapt over time to reach new heights of performance"

AI is in the spotlight because it represents a new era of efficiency. Unlike the previous generation of technology, which requires constant dashboard monitoring and intervention on the part of operators, AI has the capacity to act autonomously and to adapt over time to reach new heights of performance. As more and more health club operators implement AI solutions, they’ll enjoy reduced staffing and operational costs, while offering smart, personalised member experiences.

In the future, this will become the health and fitness industry standard, even for large-scale operators.

Ian Mullane
Founder and CEO of KeepMe
Ian Mullane

Some organisations within the UK are more hesitant to adopt new technology than our friends across the pond or in Asia, and AI is no exception.

This could be due to a lack of understanding, or a belief that it’s complicated, but the potential benefits for health and fitness operators are huge when it comes to member retention.

AI is not a solution to the challenge of low retention rates, but it can provide operators with a useful level of insight to show where to take action and equip them with the tools to do so at scale.

Right now, many operators don’t have accurate insights into which members are likely to leave and need this, along with a time window to change the outcome. AI can do this at the member level and in doing so, open up a new world of understanding on what drives attrition. Is there a higher risk with a particular membership type, gender or age? Do members that attend a specific group exercise class present less risk than those that don’t, for example?

All of these and more pieces of knowledge are available via AI to help define what actions should be taken.

"AI is not a solution to the challenge of low retention rates, but it can provide operators with a useful level of insight to show where to take action and then equip them with the tools to do so at scale"

Introducing an AI tool enhances the human resources you have, allowing them to target their member interactions to where it will have the most impact.

You know the value that personal interaction plays in retention, but having a worthwhile engagement with every member is not possible. With AI, you’re equipped to understand which interactions are likely to have the most impact, ensuring that however many engagements you have, they will have been with the most appropriate people.

You’re sitting on gold in the form of data, and AI could unlock its secrets. Many European and US operators have already realised this and are reaping the rewards of deployment with impressive increases in retention and operational efficiency.

I hope UK health and fitness operators will quickly see the potential, so we can start to see the necessary improvement in member retention so often desire.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

The team is young and ambitious, and the awareness of technology is very high. We share trends and out-of-the-box ideas almost every day
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

My vision was to create a platform that could improve the sport for lifters at all levels and attract more people, similar to how Strava, Peloton and Zwift have in other sports
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features