The past two years’ events caused a huge digital transformation in the fitness industry. And as we all know, it heavily impacted people’s habits and preferences regarding how they work out. While they still enjoy attending brick-and-mortar fitness clubs, they like being given the flexibility of training anywhere and anytime. Statistics show that many expect their fitness center to provide hybrid memberships, mixing real-life and virtual workout offerings. Hence, new fitness technology is essential for gyms in 2023. Gym operators must offer online fitness alongside traditional services, and it’s non-negotiable.
But with so much competition in this space, how do you make your digital training app stand out from the crowd? It’s helpful to stay up to date with the current tech trends in fitness. To help you with that, we’ve highlighted six examples of new gym technology that can elevate your online services.
Before we jump into the examples of the new fitness technology worth adding to your online fitness offering, let’s take a look at the trend, which is basically the reason why you are able to consider implementing any additions to your gym management software in the first place. (Unless, of course, you’re building fully custom software — then it’s all up to you and your teams’ or tech partners’ skills). The openness of technology in the fitness industry. Simply put, open ecosystems are the platforms that allow (and often even encourage) various integrations, e.g., with other services, technologies, etc.
Mariana Tek and Perfect Gym are good examples of such platforms. Of course, they come with a set of features that you can leverage as a default. But they’re also open to a wide range of integrations that allow you to enrich your gym management system with additional functionalities, whether those for your members or in the back office area. Thanks to that, you can create a semi-custom solution for your business — one that would include not only the features of the chosen platform but also others you decide to implement according to your business’ needs. And those can also come in various forms, as you can select ready-made technologies already available on the market or go for custom-built solutions that will be made especially for you.
Latest fitness technology worth implementing
Okay, now that you know the deal with open ecosystems (although there’s so much more to say about it, we may have to write a separate article on this matter), it’s time to explore the promised examples of exciting new fitness technology!
Integration with wearables
The wearables market — which includes fitness trackers such as Apple Watches and Whoop devices — is one of the great success stories of the fitness industry today. According to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s Fitness Tracker Global Market Report, it was valued at $38.34 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to $114.36 billion by 2028.
But why is there such demand for this technology?
Fitness trackers enable users to access an incredibly rich set of workout data, as well as stats on their sleep patterns, nutrition, and general activity levels. All of this helps them to make more informed lifestyle decisions. But that’s not all!
Wearable integrations are a great new technology in gyms, too. Once gym operators have access to this detailed fitness tracker data, they can make highly personalized recommendations to their members. This, in turn, improves people’s training efficiency and, as a result, boosts their engagement.
But how do you integrate wearables with your gym management software? The good news is there are a number of companies that offer ready-made solutions — including WeFitter and ROOK.
What do they do? WeFitter “gives your platform easy access to today’s most used fitness apps and wearable connections in the fitness and clinical space.”
Benefits of their software:
- Integrates with some of the most-used fitness apps and wearables in the world.
- It’s able to aggregate data from multiple sources.
- As a result, it helps you gain a holistic picture of your members’ health, lifestyle, and activity data, so you can make tailored recommendations based on their needs and preferences.
- It allows you to ‘gamify’ your member experience with options such as challenges, leaderboards, badges, points, and rewards, all of which have proven to boost member involvement and grow engaged, healthy communities.
What do they do? ROOK promises to “expand your app’s capabilities and offer your users a customized, interactive, and motivating experience.”
Benefits of their software:
- Integrates with most major fitness tracking software, including Apple Health, Google Fit, Polar, and Garmin.
- Takes data from these wearables and generates data-driven recommendations.
- Once your app has been integrated with ROOK’s API, you can embed these recommendations into your fitness app.
- This helps you create a customized and engaging user experience, with actionable insights to help your members make informed training and lifestyle decisions.
Amazon, Netflix, Tinder, and YouTube are all examples of globally successful platforms that rely on recommendation engines to make suggestions to their users. This technology has a part to play in fitness too, as it can help online training providers personalize their workout content.
A joint study by Canadian universities found that although recommendation engines have only recently entered the sector, they’re effective at helping people stick to their fitness habits.
So how does this new gym technology work? First, you need to know about your users; their age, gender, training preferences, goals, and fitness ability are a good place to start. These details can be used by the algorithm to provide personalized suggestions to users. Even if you’re not planning to implement a recommendation engine in the foreseeable future, it’s worth gathering the data now. This way, once you’re ready to build one out, you’ll be able to “feed” the algorithm with genuine user data.
Recommendation engines leverage machine learning to make personalized suggestions to a user so they achieve their goal quicker. Examples might include exercises, the number of sets, the amount of time they should spend working out, recovery tips, nutritional advice, and so on.
If your app is integrated with your members’ wearables, even better! You’ll have access to a very rich set of data. This can be used to make really powerful, personalized recommendations to your members, and support them on their health and fitness journey.
Motion tracking is another new fitness technology that can give your virtual workouts a cutting-edge, premium boost.
A company doing a really good job of leveraging this tech is XTRA. Their ready-made motion tracking solution is relatively straightforward to embed into your fitness app. It then analyzes a user’s movement through their device’s camera without the need for any special hardware or sensors. It provides real-time feedback, stats, and recommendations based on what it ‘sees’, so it’s a lot like having a personal trainer present during an online workout.
From a user’s point of view, this is a gamer changer as it ensures they’re moving with the correct form. Ultimately, this helps them get more out of a workout, avoid injuries and achieve their goals faster.
Studies show that gamifying workouts helps to boost motivation and makes training sessions more effective. No wonder gamified workouts are the new gym technology that everyone’s talking about.
Gamification can be as simple as creating a leaderboard for certain workouts or fitness sessions. This drives friendly competition among your members and is the cornerstone for many successful regimens, including CrossFit. Alternatively, create time-based challenges or consider offering rewards such as discounts or free memberships.
One app that excels at gamification is PlayFitt. Users receive a notification to take part in a simple daily movement challenge such as squats, steps, or push-ups. The app then uses AI-powered technology to track reps. And it works — PlayFitt has motivated users to perform more than 40 million squats and push-ups.
Social workout feature
Online workouts were an excellent way for people to keep fit during the pandemic and they’ve remained hugely popular ever since. But virtual training sessions are often solo pursuits and multiple studies have shown the importance of community in fitness. Working out with others helps people stay motivated, adds intensity, and often yields better results.
There’s no better demonstration of that than CrossFit, which enjoyed rapid global growth in the years preceding COVID.
A 2016 study found that compared to traditional group fitness activities and solo gym goers, CrossFitters had a higher sense of community. They also enjoyed their workouts and valued the services provided by their gym more than the other participants. As a result, CrossFitters’ attendance was the highest of all three groups. They were also more likely to believe that they were making individual progress.
Clearly, fostering a strong sense of community can have a positive impact on your clients; when they feel a connection with other members, they use your services more frequently, feel better about their fitness, and respond enthusiastically to your brand.
And while CrossFit’s communities are built in the gym, the good news is that in 2023, new fitness technology can help users replicate that same group spirit online.
For example, it’s possible to add a ‘collaborative workout’ feature to your fitness app so friends can team up and build their own sessions from a set of recommended exercises. Much like Spotify’s collaborative playlist function, this allows users to create their own bespoke routine which they can take on together.
You could build in additional elements to boost collaboration, for example, a comment or chat section, a calendar to schedule the workout for the group, and even video conferencing so members can connect while exercising.
Your online members may be training at home. But by using virtual reality (VR) accessories such as Meta’s Quest 2 suite, they’re immersed in a totally different workout environment — one that’s more fun and engaging.
VR can be used for a variety of different workouts, from cardio to yoga to strength training. Users wear headsets that block out the real world and allow them to enter (often life-like) simulations. Motion trackers monitor their movements and haptic feedback, i.e., vibrations felt through hand controllers or tracking gloves, which engages more of the user’s senses. 3D audio is also used to make virtual worlds feel more real.
VR takes the concept of gamification to a new level, allowing users to feel like they’re taking part in a computer game (albeit one that makes them sweat!). It also incorporates social features, so two users can compete alongside each other in the same virtual world.
What’s more, the hardware is becoming increasingly affordable. For example, a Google Cardboard viewer costs less than $10, and more and more software developers are getting involved.
Thinking about using this latest fitness technology? It’s worth taking a look at some of the leading VR fitness apps for inspiration.
Supernatural is a subscription-based platform that allows users to take part in yoga, pilates, boxing classes and more, led by virtual instructors in locations around the world — including the Bolivian salt flats and an Icelandic volcano.
FitXR is another leading VR fitness app available on Meta Quest. Once users have signed up for a monthly subscription, they can access a library of on-demand fitness classes, including dance workouts and HIIT sessions. It also allows users to choose music genres and workout environments.
Building VR functionality into an online workout platform would no doubt add to the cost of creating a fitness app. But if that’s something you’re interested in, it’s worth running the idea past your fitness app development company to see what’s feasible.
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Summary: latest fitness technology trends for 2023
It looks like 2023 is set to be a challenging year in the fitness industry. As we’ve seen, it’s an ultra-competitive sector with countless gyms, training regimens, and digital offerings competing for consumers’ time, money and attention. Business leaders also have to contend with the effects of geo-political and economic turmoil, supply chain issues, as well as spiraling energy and staff costs. But not all is lost!
In this landscape, you need to focus your resources on providing the best possible customer experience in order to stand out from the competition. Innovation should play a key role in that; by investing in new gym technology that enhances your fitness app, you give your members an extra reason to stick with you. And retaining customers is much more cost-efficient than finding new ones.
If you haven’t invested in digital technology and you’re wondering how to make a fitness app, it’s a good idea to hire a tech partner. Here’s more on how to choose the best fitness app development company.