The time to act is now. Large tech giants and enormous insurance corporations are looking at the fitness industry as their next profit center which is why we need to act now and support the creation of industry-wide data standards.
The U.S. health club industry served 70.2 million people in 2017 according to IHRSA. These people visited your studios and health clubs to live happier and healthier lives and are using fitness apps and other technology to improve their overall wellbeing.
It’s no surprise why these big tech firms and health insurance providers want your members to use their apps and technology.
There’s another important reason why these big corporations are going after the fitness industry. They know the fitness industry lacks uniform data standards.
Data standards might not seem like an urgent challenge to address but as Rick Caro, President, Management Vision, Inc., notes it creates an unseen and expensive problem for operators across the industry.
“While data standards may not feel like a big issue for your club right now, outside influences are eager to control how we operate,” expressed Mr. Caro who is one of the founding members of IHRSA. “That control often translates into technology solutions that are more expensive for clubs and more burdensome to members. This is why operators and vendors need to come together be a part of the data standards movement that’s happening in our industry so that we stop big corporations from dictating business terms our industry can’t afford or worse that are unnecessary. Just think how healthcare could require our conformity to all HIPPA laws for even the most basic health club or gym?”
If you’re not sure what data standard are or why they are so important, you’re not alone.
Think of data standards as the rules that govern how data is described and recorded. In order for our industry to share, exchange, and gain meaningful insights from our member data, we’ll need to standardize the format as well as the meaning. Big corporations like playing by their rules.
Since our industry hasn’t come together to establish standards, outside firms are forcing clubs to conform to their rules or data standards. Conforming to another industry’s standards can be costly to clubs and, your members.
How can data standards help your business?
For club operators, the real value of data standards is the benefits it createsyou’re your members.
“As an operator, we’re focused on helping our members achieve results through a holistic approach to fitness,” said Samir Desai, Chief Information Officer, Equinox. “Like any operator in the fitness industry, our top priority is improving our member experience. Just imagine when members don’t have to register for every new app or equipment console they use. Data standards will allow our members to seamlessly switch between applications or equipment without having to log into or maintain multiple user accounts. That’s why we’re supporting data standards.”
Data standards can also be used to help members find the right health or fitness club while helping clubs to serve more members.
With data standards, if a gym or personal training prospect selects not to take a class or respond to invitations to tour a facility, these leads could be shared locally with other club operators so that we can find the right clubs for more members while helping clubs serve more members. With only 18% of Americans exercising at a fitness center, data standards can be used to create interoperability between web-based and in-club systems that will help to provide meaningful data to operators so that they can use this data to acquire more member and remain the trusted source of fitness and wellness in their member’s lives.
It’s a win-win for our industry.
Data standards would also give club operators the ability to access data from any device, app, or piece of equipment regardless of who the manufacturer is while providing members with the means to move their data across these systems.
“Standards will give operators the ability to connect solutions from different sources more easily.”
Mike Leveque, COO, Myzone
For vendors, data standards can make technology solutions less expensive to develop and maintain for operators.
“Data standards help club operators save money while giving them increased technology flexibility by allowing for seamless connection with disparate solutions,” notes Mike Leveque, Myzone’s Chief Operating Officer and the leader of the Manufacturers Working Group. “Data standards would also give club operators the ability to access data from any device, app, or piece of equipment regardless of the manufacturer while providing members with the means to move their data across all participating platforms.”
How do vendors and club operators get involved?
Operators and fitness industry vendors can join a new group that has been formed to tackle data standards with support from IHRSA’s Industry Leadership Council (ILC).
The group is called Active Lifestyle Industry Data (ALID) Consortium.
ALID is an industry-wide initiative of health and fitness club executives, equipment manufacturers, and technology vendors working together to coordinate and collaborate on the exchange of industry data by formulating data standards.
“The immediate challenge is for vendors and operators to come together as an industry to establish a set of standards before outside influences dictate those standards to our industry, “ noted Al Noshirvani, Chairman, Motionsoft and the catalyst behind the creation of ALID. “Our goal is to have 250 new members participating in this data standard initiative by 2019.”
ALID has established six working groups to support the formation of data standards and to contribute to peer-to-peer exchanges and knowledge sharing across the health and fitness industry. The six working groups, include:
- Road Map Working Group
- Business Development Working Group
- Rules and Governance Working Group
- Manufacturers Working Group
- Club Operator Working Group
- Data Standards Working Group
ALIC members serve a one-year volunteer term. There are no memberships fees. Members may join two working groups. Each group selects a working group leader who serves for six months. Working Group Leaders can only serve on the working group they lead.
The Club Operators Group is charged with gathering information from operators on standards for member data, equipment usage, exercise activity, and related services as well as serving as a catalyst for industry-wide adoption of health and fitness data standards. The group leader is Ray OConnor, CEO, Wisconsin Athletic Club.
The top 10 reasons to join an ALID working group:
- Stay informed and protect your ability to responsibly leverage data from equipment and services to improve the gym experience of your members.
- Avoid potential lost revenue by not complying with data standards.
- Help implement industry-wide standard so that members, clubs, vendors, and manufacturers direct this effort rather than outside companies or industry’s dictating arbitrary standards that our industry must follow if we want to work with them.
- Champion deeper member insights that deliver real value to clubs and the members they serve.
- Help shape the future of the fitness industry. ALID is actively soliciting input from manufacturers to refine and cultivate buy-in from all manufacturers in the health and fitness industry on a set of data standards.
- Manufacturers will be able to use industry standards to ease the implementation and management of systems across any club ecosystem.
- Adherence to standards helps ensure reliability. As a result, club operators are more likely to perceive standardized products and services as more dependable. This reliability benefit in turn raises gym owners’ confidence, and can increases sales.
- Legislators frequently reference the benefit of standards in protecting consumer rights and business interests. Creating data standards may help IHRSA’s lobbying efforts on the local and national stage.
- Interoperability – the ability of devices to work together relies on products and services complying with a set of data standards.
- The business benefits of standardization provide a solid foundation upon which to develop new technologies and to enhance existing practices.
If that mission resonates with you, email Al Noshirvani, Chairman, Motionsoft – firstname.lastname@example.org – to become a member today.