Business of Fitness Gym Management blog

Apple Fitness+ and Your Boutique Gym

Apple announced Fitness+. This means it is time to take your boutique gym to the next level.

James Plata
September 18, 2020
TLDR;

Apple's big announcement of Fitness+ legitimately throws them into the fitness pool with on-demand workouts like Peloton, Mirror, and Nike Run Club. Their investment in bringing health and fitness mainstream is a great sign for your boutique gym, if you're up for the challenge.

This week, Apple announced Fitness+, “A new fitness experience for everyone, powered by Apple Watch. World-class workouts by the world’s top trainers.”

As a consumer, there are a ton of things to be excited about.

  • Fitness+ brings together workouts, trainers, music, and real-time workout data
  • Users will be able to choose from yoga, cycling, dance, walk, run, strength, core, HIIT, rowing, and mindfulness workouts
  • New workouts are released every week, from trainers at Apple’s Fitness studios.
  • Minimal equipment or no equipment needed
  • Heavy music integration.
  • Personal workout or trainer recommendations based on likes and workouts completed
  • And the price. $9.99 per month.

I won't bother to recap every single feature. You can read up on the full release on Apple’s keynote

Apple announces Fitness+ on Apple Watch, to be released Fall of 2020

I’ve had an Apple Watch for 3 years now, and I find myself using it more and more for fitness.

I wear my Watch to bed to track my sleep and use the vibrating alarm to wake me up, while not disturbing my wife sleeping next to me. I get out of bed at 4 am and set out for a run with nothing but my Watch and headphones.

I’ll start the Strava app to track my distance, pace, and heart rate. As soon as I’m done, I immediately save and record my workout through the app. Before I kick off my running shoes, I’ll check the fitness app to see how much of my fitness rings I’ve closed. I’ll usually try to close my workout ring in one shot.

All the while, I’m listening to a podcast, audiobook, or music. The Apple Watch is already an essential accessory for me. And I’ll bet that is the same for a lot of other people as well.

Apple vs Boutique Gyms

As a gym owner, this presents immediate competition from a company with unlimited resources. You can bet that Apple has a long-term vision of how to take over the market. They’re bringing together the entire power of their ecosystem into Fitness+. Just take a look at what they are bringing together.

Workouts. Trainers. Data. Music.

This sounds like a lot of boutique gyms we work with. Most gyms rely on workouts, trainers, and music, with minimal data feedback. So it’s no longer enough to just offer those things.

You need to double down on what truly makes our gyms successful and take it into the digital future. Let’s take a dive into what that means.

(We recently published an article on how to strengthen your business resiliency by diversifying your services. 3 Must-Have Revenue Streams in Your Gym Business)

Personalized Fitness

No matter how much personalization Apple Fitness+ brings, it is no replacement for a coach or trainer in person. You are able to understand your members and clients better than just data points. You can read their body language when they walk into your facility. You can see that they’ve had a tough day at work or that they have worked out every day for the past year and still struggle to lose weight. Those are things that Apple Fitness won't pick up on.

But with the amount of technology available, we can improve on this by leveraging those tools to make our services even more impactful.

  • Use the step count on their wearable to see how active they are throughout the day.
  • Incorporate heart-rate tracking and displays into your workouts to gauge the intensity
  • Use workout tracking apps to custom tailor your workout prescription for your members based on goals, lifestyle, training age, performance, etc.

Program Design

Your ability to provide a service that incorporates workouts, nutrition, and habit training is what guarantees your member’s results. We all know that working out, alone, doesn’t guarantee anything, other than a pool of sweat.

It takes personal communication, constant feedback, and trust to guide someone to their health and fitness goals. You have the ability to take a step back, look at their habits, work life, personal life, physical health, and shape those to bring your member results.

Just like with workouts, you can leverage technology to enhance the experience and effectiveness of your program design.

Use apps like TrueCoach and Sugarwod to design their workout program and track their progress. Use apps like Healthy Steps Nutrition or CoachCatalyst to make sure your member is routinely dialed into their eating habits. Or take it a step further and design automated email or text checkups using Zapier and any texting platform.

Since there is an app for everything, the possibilities to leverage technology are limitless. The important thing to know is that solutions are out there, you just need to find them and leverage them.

Community

This might be the hardest component for Fitness+ to replace. There is very little substitute for having a supportive atmosphere in your gym, bringing people together, and celebrating successes. But technology is catching up. Apple Fitness already allows you to challenge friends to fitness competitions. Facebook invested a lot of resources into building out Facebook groups from 100 million users in groups in 2017 to over 400 million users in groups as of 2019.

But what they haven’t been able to digitize is the same in-person social interaction. This gives you an opportunity to leverage the social communities that the big tech companies are building, and build that on top of your physical community.

Create a memorable experience for each member in person. (We’ve got a post for that topic too! The Rule of 3s and How To Stand Out). Then keep them engaged with social media outside of your facility. Have Zoom or HouseParty happy hours. Create sub-Facebook groups for all the moms to share kid activity ideas and pictures of their kids. There are many ways to use technology to bring people closer. But it won't be a replacement!

What Does This Mean?

I’m excited at the announcement and the investment Apple is putting towards personal health. This means even more people will be aware and actively looking to improve their health.

Health and fitness will continue to evolve with every technological advancement. This is a good thing! Just don’t get left behind. Technology will continue to give us tools and resources to improve member experiences and their results. It will be up to you on how to use them.


James Plata

James Plata is a fitness-nut and hoarder of all gadgets. He's owned an Affiliate and is an experienced personal trainer. You can catch him awake at 4 am every morning, reading, writing, or working out. Oh, and he currently sits as the Content Director for PushPress.

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