The power of modern mobile devices lies in the ability to provide new ways to build communities and strengthen the bonds within the membership. In the first blog article on mobile fitness apps I wrote about how you get insight into customer activities and how well your gym is being utilized. In the second part of this series I want to discuss how they can help to keep your members motivated.
Content Community And Coaching From Mobile Fitness Apps
There is a huge opportunity to make use of the features that you can put into a mobile app. Features that go beyond the abilities of a website. There are three things that should be most important in your application to reach customers and members. These are content, community and coaching. The motivational value that mobile apps bring to your membership lies in them. Beyond that, the biggest contribution fitness apps can make to the quality of the experience your members have is by entertaining them and providing a fun new aspect to working out that they cannot get any other way.
Great Content Input Equals High Membership Motivation Output
Great content is still the core of a healthy digital relationship with your members. The app released as part of the relaunch of Bally Fitness shows a good example of how it can work. They have plastered their equipment with QR codes that link directly to related video content, making it easier to get the most out of a workout by watching an explaination video for each piece.
Presumably, every time a video file is called from a code it registers in Bally’s analytics, telling them which equipment get used most. That kind of data can be hugely important to a gym in the way that I described in part one of this series. Giving members access to this type of content motivates by helping them use the equipment to train more confidently.
Help Your Community Build Itself
Social connection is the content that comes from membership in a community. Having access to a community is enough to help keep some people motivated and on target. There’s the enjoyment of human contact and also the reward of recognition in your achievements and also the pain of failure in public, which motivates people to keep up.
Having community is a source of strength, derived from peer pressure, mutual support and encouragement. Making the social connection can be the most rewarding part of membership. As people become more reliant on technology for their social lives, they will be drawn to the activities and organizations that provide the strongest elements of digital community. It is the place from which they will select their membership options.
Between Content And Community Lies Coaching
On the boundary between content and community there is a place where you find a mix of slightly more formal contact. It is where members interact with trainers and automated systems that take the role of advising, training and motivating the user. Different phone features can be used: Apps or SMS or both together.
Coaching is a more formal aspect of community, where there is interaction between members and the system. Members make a personal bond with the system as it facilitates discipline and goal setting, and then recognizes when their goals have been achieved. In coaching the learning and achievement is the content.
Coaching functions can be record keeping, workout tracking or advice. They can be connections between people and expert systems that rely on large data sets of preselected hints and observations. An example of automatic coaching through an app is Coach Alba, which provides interactive motivational text messages to members, to help them reach their goals.
Fun Games And Shame
Some apps have a gaming aspect, for example, "Zombies, Run! 2" is an app that conjures virtual zombies, which chase you through various activities. For the wagering souls there is Gym Pact, which charges your card when you fail to make your stated target and pays you when you do.
Where apps provide a community, content, fun and information about other members, there can be intense peer pressure to perform. It is the value of fun and entertainment that creates positive associations to your gym, as well as content, community and coaching, which will provide the greatest levels of motivation to your membership.
Advantage Sport & Fitness. Top 5 Trends in Commercial Fitness Equipment. https://www.advantagefitness.com/page/top-5-trends-in-commercial-fitness-equipment (accessed August 1, 2014).
Brousell, Lauren. "Gym Reshapes Its Image." CIO, April 2013: 15-16.
Cohen, Jennifer. 5 Fitness Apps That Actually Get Results. 18 February 2014. https://www.cnn.com/2014/02/18/health/health-fitness-apps/ (accessed August 14, 2014).
Google. Fitness App. 14 August 2014. https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=fitness%20app (accessed August 14, 2014).
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