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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Wearable technology: Portable health

How could wearable technologies impact the health club business? Bryan O’Rourke shares his views on the possibilities offered by the latest technological innovations

Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 9

In May of this year, Credit Suisse analysts advised their investment clients of “the next big thing”, and it wasn’t an innovative new drug or social network platform – it was wearable technology.

From the music business to hospitality, new technologies are disrupting a long list of industries. With Google Glass, I-Watch, the Nike Fuel Band and a host of other wearable technologies coming to market, one wonders how these could advance or hinder health club business models.

Current global revenues of US$3–$5bn are set to explode to more than US$50bn in the area of wearable tech over the next three to five years – and some think that’s a conservative outlook.

Research firm ON World recently released its mobile health and wellness sensor reports which predicted that, in 2017, 515 million sensors for wearable, implantable or mobile health and fitness devices will be shipped globally, up from 107 million in 2012. ON World estimates that, by 2017, wearables will make up 80 per cent of the “mobile sensing health and fitness device” market. That figure includes smart watches, which it believes 48 per cent of consumers will primarily use for health and fitness (see http://lei.sr?a=H8g5r)

Meanwhile a new report from Juniper Research suggests that health and fitness devices will make up half of all wireless accessories shipped by 2018 (see http://lei.sr?a=0l1h4)

While these numbers may seem outrageous, consider this: CISCO forecasts that, by the end of 2013, the number of internet-connected mobile devices will actually exceed the human population. In Hong Kong alone, the average person has two smartphone devices, yet the modern smartphone trend emerged only five years ago. And in the US today, more than 35 million people are using health tracking devices. It’s not unreasonable to think that this trend is just getting started.

A new healthcare model
So what does this mean for health clubs? The implications are unclear, but in a world where the cost of traditional ‘sick care’ is unsustainable, the paradigm of preventative and ‘do it yourself’ patient care is increasingly relevant. While traditionally the health club industry has largely catered to already fit enthusiasts, the opportunity to capture the much larger and growing sedentary market is being made more viable through these new wearable devices, with the proven idea that lifestyle management is the best means of driving down healthcare costs.

In his controversial book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, Dr Eric Topol sets out a construct of the future of healthcare. According to Topol, putting important health data in patients’ hands is key to bringing about a digital health revolution.

During a recent speech, the doctor said: “There are more than a billion pre-diabetics on the planet, and we have warned them not to become diabetic. What if they could get their glucose every five minutes just for a week, and learn what are the foods and the lifestyle choices that are putting their pancreas into a high-gear mode we want to avoid? Wouldn’t that be a great education for that individual, because each one has his own environment, own nutrition?”

Topol is right: primary prevention is key to enhancing the quality of life for billions of people by avoiding chronic disease in the first place. Increasingly convenient and inexpensive devices could be a key part of systems that keep people healthy by impacting on lifestyles.

Integrating technology
The DIY Health movement, known to some as the Quantified Self trend (see HCM April 13, p39), has evolved from the surge in new apps and devices actively being adopted by consumers keen on preventing, examining, improving, monitoring and managing their health. How health clubs could get involved in this shift is an important question.
The fitness industry has reached an inflection point where business models are going through increasing fragmentation as consumer needs become more distinct and business models are honed. The paradigm created by rising healthcare costs will create more opportunities for clubs to deliver lifestyle management to clients.

UK operator Nuffield Health is a case in point. Its model represents a commercial bridge between traditional healthcare and primary prevention with assessments, programmes, measures and rewards centred on health outcomes. More business models like Nuffield will be appearing, and their reliance on technology as a key component of service delivery is likely. Indeed, as physical and digital worlds merge, new forms of wearables like Google Glass will lead to unforeseeable and interesting possibilities.

Wearables technologies – along with internet ubiquity and cloud-based software – will enable facilities to deliver wellness programmes and interact with, track and motivate clients in new ways. It will likely change and expand the ways in which trainers interact with members, moving away from counting reps and towards coaching and advising clients, with a lot more behavioural data at hand.

Meanwhile, as governments and employers wrestle with rising costs associated with chronic disease, they will look for solutions that achieve health outcomes which avoid medical conditions – and the fitness industry could address that opportunity.

The recent Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect in the US in 2014 (see also p82), serves as evidence that policy must factor in primary prevention as part of the sick care equation. This approach by governments and employers will be a larger part of the cost reduction equation in the coming years.

Growth of competition
All that glitters is not gold, as the wearable trend will create risks. While these technologies will enable new business models for clubs that seek to service members 24/7, both inside and outside of their four walls, they could also usher in a new era of competition.

Apple has hired experts in sensors that monitor the human body from companies like AccuVein, C8 MediSensors and Senseonics. The electronics giant Samsung recently divulged that it’s investing heavily in wearable computers, and revealed that it’s even developing systems for stick-on patches to monitor health. The business opportunity created by prevention and technology is not going unnoticed.

In the end, the surge in new technologies – particularly wearables – will create new ways of helping people improve their quality of life and avoid chronic disease. Industries and businesses that figure out how best to incorporate these tools in a systematic way, to provide outcomes for their clients, should flourish.

Will the health club industry be part of this equation? I think so.

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

Wearable technology: Portable health

How could wearable technologies impact the health club business? Bryan O’Rourke shares his views on the possibilities offered by the latest technological innovations

Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 9

In May of this year, Credit Suisse analysts advised their investment clients of “the next big thing”, and it wasn’t an innovative new drug or social network platform – it was wearable technology.

From the music business to hospitality, new technologies are disrupting a long list of industries. With Google Glass, I-Watch, the Nike Fuel Band and a host of other wearable technologies coming to market, one wonders how these could advance or hinder health club business models.

Current global revenues of US$3–$5bn are set to explode to more than US$50bn in the area of wearable tech over the next three to five years – and some think that’s a conservative outlook.

Research firm ON World recently released its mobile health and wellness sensor reports which predicted that, in 2017, 515 million sensors for wearable, implantable or mobile health and fitness devices will be shipped globally, up from 107 million in 2012. ON World estimates that, by 2017, wearables will make up 80 per cent of the “mobile sensing health and fitness device” market. That figure includes smart watches, which it believes 48 per cent of consumers will primarily use for health and fitness (see http://lei.sr?a=H8g5r)

Meanwhile a new report from Juniper Research suggests that health and fitness devices will make up half of all wireless accessories shipped by 2018 (see http://lei.sr?a=0l1h4)

While these numbers may seem outrageous, consider this: CISCO forecasts that, by the end of 2013, the number of internet-connected mobile devices will actually exceed the human population. In Hong Kong alone, the average person has two smartphone devices, yet the modern smartphone trend emerged only five years ago. And in the US today, more than 35 million people are using health tracking devices. It’s not unreasonable to think that this trend is just getting started.

A new healthcare model
So what does this mean for health clubs? The implications are unclear, but in a world where the cost of traditional ‘sick care’ is unsustainable, the paradigm of preventative and ‘do it yourself’ patient care is increasingly relevant. While traditionally the health club industry has largely catered to already fit enthusiasts, the opportunity to capture the much larger and growing sedentary market is being made more viable through these new wearable devices, with the proven idea that lifestyle management is the best means of driving down healthcare costs.

In his controversial book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, Dr Eric Topol sets out a construct of the future of healthcare. According to Topol, putting important health data in patients’ hands is key to bringing about a digital health revolution.

During a recent speech, the doctor said: “There are more than a billion pre-diabetics on the planet, and we have warned them not to become diabetic. What if they could get their glucose every five minutes just for a week, and learn what are the foods and the lifestyle choices that are putting their pancreas into a high-gear mode we want to avoid? Wouldn’t that be a great education for that individual, because each one has his own environment, own nutrition?”

Topol is right: primary prevention is key to enhancing the quality of life for billions of people by avoiding chronic disease in the first place. Increasingly convenient and inexpensive devices could be a key part of systems that keep people healthy by impacting on lifestyles.

Integrating technology
The DIY Health movement, known to some as the Quantified Self trend (see HCM April 13, p39), has evolved from the surge in new apps and devices actively being adopted by consumers keen on preventing, examining, improving, monitoring and managing their health. How health clubs could get involved in this shift is an important question.
The fitness industry has reached an inflection point where business models are going through increasing fragmentation as consumer needs become more distinct and business models are honed. The paradigm created by rising healthcare costs will create more opportunities for clubs to deliver lifestyle management to clients.

UK operator Nuffield Health is a case in point. Its model represents a commercial bridge between traditional healthcare and primary prevention with assessments, programmes, measures and rewards centred on health outcomes. More business models like Nuffield will be appearing, and their reliance on technology as a key component of service delivery is likely. Indeed, as physical and digital worlds merge, new forms of wearables like Google Glass will lead to unforeseeable and interesting possibilities.

Wearables technologies – along with internet ubiquity and cloud-based software – will enable facilities to deliver wellness programmes and interact with, track and motivate clients in new ways. It will likely change and expand the ways in which trainers interact with members, moving away from counting reps and towards coaching and advising clients, with a lot more behavioural data at hand.

Meanwhile, as governments and employers wrestle with rising costs associated with chronic disease, they will look for solutions that achieve health outcomes which avoid medical conditions – and the fitness industry could address that opportunity.

The recent Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect in the US in 2014 (see also p82), serves as evidence that policy must factor in primary prevention as part of the sick care equation. This approach by governments and employers will be a larger part of the cost reduction equation in the coming years.

Growth of competition
All that glitters is not gold, as the wearable trend will create risks. While these technologies will enable new business models for clubs that seek to service members 24/7, both inside and outside of their four walls, they could also usher in a new era of competition.

Apple has hired experts in sensors that monitor the human body from companies like AccuVein, C8 MediSensors and Senseonics. The electronics giant Samsung recently divulged that it’s investing heavily in wearable computers, and revealed that it’s even developing systems for stick-on patches to monitor health. The business opportunity created by prevention and technology is not going unnoticed.

In the end, the surge in new technologies – particularly wearables – will create new ways of helping people improve their quality of life and avoid chronic disease. Industries and businesses that figure out how best to incorporate these tools in a systematic way, to provide outcomes for their clients, should flourish.

Will the health club industry be part of this equation? I think so.

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

Alexa can help you book classes, check trainers’ bios and schedules, find out opening times, and a host of other information
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

We ended up raising US$7m in venture capital from incredible investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital
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

The app is free and it’s $40 to participate in one of our virtual events
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