Artificial intelligence in the fitness industry
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the future of fitness technology. Today, AI-powered systems can perform tasks faster and in larger quantities than regular human intelligence, such as managing large amounts of data or discovering hidden patterns in information.
As a result, global business spending on AI will hit $50 billion this year. And $110 billion annually by 2024, according to technology research firm IDC.
What does this mean for health and gym operators in such a competitive industry?
Continue reading to find out why fitness professionals should keep an eye out for new AI trends.
In this article:
The pros and cons of AI for health and fitness clubs
AI is the latest technology behind the so-called ‘fittech’ industry. For example, it has played a significant role in personalization and connected fitness in recent years. That is why for many IT fitness professionals, AI is helping gym businesses to bridge the gap between what members actually need and their club tech solutions.
Let’s look at the following table. Here we list some of the pros and cons gym operators need to carefully assess when considering the use of AI in their tech stack. Before making any decision to improve the fitness experience of your members, you might want to consider the benefits and disadvantages.
Speaking concretely, the advantages of AI solutions make a difference for operators looking to improve the gym member experience. The impact goes from collecting vast amounts of fitness data, including members’ exercise history, fitness goals, and preferences, to suggesting personalized workout plans, nutritional advice, and tailor-made gym marketing strategies.
That’s when you are using the power of AI to its fullest. However, if you are investing in AI systems just to collect member attendance and billing data or only using about 80% of your back-office software, then you certainly won’t get enough ROI from your AI initiative.
Overall, the benefits of using AI tools exceed the drawbacks. But gym operators should be aware that despite artificial intelligence is sophisticated enough, it still requires the right skills and staff to implement them. The cost of this technology is expensive; therefore, it’s essential to make sure you are using it in the right way.
Tips for using AI to increase gym member acquisition and retention
In just a few years, many gyms have gone from printing out twenty-page-long membership contracts and in-person group class registrations to modernizing various club operations with self-service kiosks, online bookings, and automated member correspondence.
Numerous examples of machine learning and AI are already being used in the fitness and wellness industry today. Here, we list some examples:
1. The future of personalized workout programs
Gym member apps with digital fitness content offer more convenience and flexibility to customers facing the most common barriers to gym attendance. Some fitness operators are already integrating wearable technology with their member management apps, like fitness trackers, to collect data about their members’ activity levels and heartrate and motivate them during workouts.
In this use case, machine learning algorithms analyze the data to provide personalized insights, feedback, and recommendations that gyms use to help better their members achieve their fitness goals more effectively.
For example, Anytime Fitness recently announced that they are using data and predictive analysis to produce personalized health and fitness plans for their members through their coaching app utilizing the support of body scan technology. This is a great step towards personalization. The outcome? Loyal customers and long-term commitments.
Members appreciate that their gym is putting effort into helping them achieve their fitness and health goals.
2. Automated engagement and retention
Many gym management systems now generate member datasets that display information on dashboards and in reports that gym staff can access, interpret, and use to predict future member behavior. But also to tailor their gym marketing efforts. Rather than sending massive emails to all their members, the help of AI tools can radically turn those hopeful messages into data-driven and highly convertible advice.
Gym suppliers are using data science to optimize fitness equipment, and operators are using such data to determine which equipment is most popular and which is underutilized. This way, they can inform their future equipment purchases and placement on the gym floor. In return, having a greater understanding of gym member equipment use and behavior will help operators to predict customer expectations and enable them to not only meet member expectations but delight all of them.
EGYM is an example of a company that already provides a mixture of gym management, smart equipment, and partnerships with white label digital fitness content providers to run a more efficient, profitable, and member-engaging service.
3. AI-powered membership management systems
In 2017, only 2% of businesses used virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology for customer service and support. By 2027, they will become the primary customer support channel for a quarter of all companies, according to the research and advisory company Gartner Inc.
Various departments, from personal trainers to sales and customer success, are already using open AI platforms like ChatGPT to formulate customer support and sales scripts to communicate more efficiently with their customers. AI-powered chatbots can provide instant help to members, answering frequently asked questions and providing guidance on equipment usage, class schedules, and more.
Similarly, AI algorithms on a gym’s social media platforms are being used to help target their marketing and sales campaigns more effectively. By delivering personalized offers and recommendations, club operators are beginning to significantly enhance their member acquisition and engagement with content that provides more tangible value.
Not only do AI-enhanced personalized content platforms improve the member journey, but they can also improve gym staff work processes by automating and accelerating the creation and distribution of workouts and training plans at scale. For example, Funxtion’s digital fitness content platform is being developed to leverage AI that creates limitless personalized workouts and training plans that adapt to the member’s needs and preferences, enabling operators to serve more members than ever.
The impact of AI in the digital fitness market
The 2020 pandemic accelerated consumers’ adoption of digital channels. However, most gyms weren’t well-placed to respond to this dramatic shift. Consequently, gym operators had to work fast to set up omnichannel solutions to serve and retain their members.
Fast-forward to 2023, businesses and consumers are increasingly exploring artificial intelligence to enhance their everyday routines, including wearables, e-payments and text autocorrect. How much this artificial intelligence will impact the gym industry is still unclear. If it delivers on its promised capabilities, the gym industry could face significant disruption.
The pandemic taught club operators that adaptability and agility are critical to keeping the business afloat. From now on, gyms will have to be more digital and data-driven. And so far, leading fittech such as EGYM and Anytime Fitness are already using the power of AI to streamline their operations. They have shown you can adapt and act quickly as circumstances demand. AI has also helped big industry players to predict and personalize customer experiences more efficiently, accurately, and scalably, so they have a greater capacity to delight their members and lower churn rates.
Melvin Rook, Chief Technology Officer at Funxtion, believes that AI will offer the biggest advancements ever seen in the gym industry.
Artificial intelligence is still an emerging technology but will soon become omnipresent in the fitness and wellness industry. Any enterprise gym that skips big data will become obsolete in the next few years. On the contrary, those that apply them strategically will excel and rise to the top.
Here to help
Building ethical AI practices is key when implementing AI technology. Funxtion considers this and ensures that our AI models are free from bias and discrimination, prioritizing the needs of our users. By embedding AI into our tech vision and strategy, we are confident that we can deliver on our mission to become the world’s most intelligent digital fitness platform.
Looking to leverage the power of advanced digital technology? Get in touch with our team and discover the advantages of integrating digital fitness content into your own member app.