AI Has Invaded the Fitness Industry
Sun, April 18, 2021

AI Has Invaded the Fitness Industry

Fitness and technology are among the fastest-growing industries in the world. Reports showed that the fitness industry reached an estimated $94 billion in 2018, with an annual growth rate of 6.1% / Photo by: dolgachov via 123RF

 

Fitness and technology are among the fastest-growing industries in the world. Reports showed that the fitness industry reached an estimated $94 billion in 2018, with an annual growth rate of 6.1%. Meanwhile, the technology industry pervades the world, with artificial intelligence as one of the fastest-growing techs with a 38.8% CAGR. Thus, we can expect countless innovations and benefits when these two are combined.

Digital fitness is currently valued at $7 billion. It is expected that it would reach an estimated $24.7 billion at a CAGR of 32.6% from 2017 to 2022. This shows that it would grow 10 times faster compared to the traditional fitness club industry. According to Forbes, a global media company focusing on business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and lifestyle, the IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association) reported that the $30 billion health and fitness industry in the US has been growing by at least 3% to 4% annually for the past decade. 

The benefits of AI are potentially huge in the fitness industry. For instance, it can help automate several time-intensive tasks, which is particularly important for customer service and client onboarding. At the same time, AI can help prevent human error. One of the best examples of how AI and the fitness industry combined can create innovations is wearable technology. Wearable technologies consist of smartwatches, fitness trackers, HR monitors, and GPS trackers. 

Apps also deserve a special mention. Nowadays, fitness apps are using AI to help users in their exercise, giving them total independence during their workout sessions, and more. These help people to be fit and to monitor their health. AI and machine learning are also being used to leverage the huge amounts of data that gyms have at their disposal. This information can be used to increase signups and conversion rates. 

Boosting Sales

One major thing that AI can help the fitness industry is through its health clubs. Carrie Kepple, owner and managing director of Styles Studios and an IHRSA board member, believed that using AI-assisted CRM tools can transform customer service. These tools can greatly help in an industry that relies so much on human connections and personal growth. Kepple stated that customers nowadays wanted a more streamlined process in health clubs or gyms by mobile technology. 

“Sometimes you just don't want to talk to a human. You want to get straight to the point when it comes to speed of transaction, of efficiency in your life because time is precious. Redesigning member experience is about their needs, not yours,” Kepple said. 

According to IHRSA, the trade association serving the health and fitness club industry, AI-assisted CRM tools can benefit owners in many ways, including increasing membership and improving operational efficiencies. For instance, it can lower labor costs because AI systems would do the work instead of humans. AI sales assistants not only carry several responsibilities but also learn as they go along the way. They are also available as long as we need them. Also, they can provide more targeted and accurate communication with prospects.

“A sales rep can only be as productive as the time spent selling. Machine learning identifies patterns to determine which leads are most likely to be converted into a deal,” an executive at Salesforce, an American cloud-based software company headquartered in San Francisco, California, said. 

A report by TAS Group, the strategic partner for business innovation in payment systems, cards, and financial markets, revealed that 40% of all salespeople can understand the problem of their customers. AI can address this issue by improving the personalization of AI-assisted CRM tools. It can collect and interpret data easily.

At the same time, gyms or health clubs can use both AI and machine learning to keep members satisfied and on track to complete their goals. It is helpful that customers feel that they are improving so they would keep coming back to them. 

One major thing that AI can help the fitness industry is through its health clubs. Carrie Kepple, owner and managing director of Styles Studios and an IHRSA board member, believed that using AI-assisted CRM tools can transform customer service / Photo by: nd3000 via 123RF

 

AI as a Personal Trainer

According to Club Industry, an online source that aims to meet the needs of fitness professionals regardless of facility size, affiliation, or ownership, personal training has been an integral part of the fitness industry for decades. However, it’s difficult for both personal trainers and clients to maintain a proper schedule. Health clubs like Planet Fitness is struggling with this problem. 

Craig Miller, Planet Fitness’ chief digital and information officer, stated that they are investing in AI for digital coaching. They are planning to use mobile apps and connected fitness equipment. Miller said that the AI coach works as an adaptive recommendation engine. “It can tell you how well the program is working for you. It adapts and makes adjustments, both exercise and nutrition, based on your performance,” he said. 

Earlier this year, AI startup Aaptiv launched “Aaptiv Coach,” an AI-based assistant that builds personalized fitness and lifestyle plans. According to TechCrunch, an American online publisher focusing on the tech industry, these plans are based on user’s goals, eating habits, current fitness levels, and data input from external devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers. Also, the app will use to measure the progress of the user about their fitness. 

Ethan Agarwal, Aaptiv’s founder and CEO, stated that they aim to help people achieve their fitness goals. Their algorithms have been trained on data gathered through more than 22 million workouts that the company has streamed across the world. “If you work out three times a week for 45 minutes, that is basically 2% of your week. But there are a lot of companies out there competing for that 2%: gyms, in-home biking startups, and more. But the way we see it, is that the other 98% of your time is where your habits are formed, where you need to start to build structure,” Agarwal said. 

The goal to be fit is something that is purely human in nature, so it is quite ironic that it is now being made more efficient and easier to achieve with the help of artificial intelligence.