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How to cut through the clutter and mixed messages about internet connectivity!

04.10.2013

It does not take long to evaluate that most major equipment providers are offering internet connectivity as part of their cardiovascular equipment offering.

The concept is solid in theory!

Increase the engagement of the paying customer by having the ability to connect during their workouts.

The reality is that the implementation is a little trickier than what most people expect, or are told about. 

Implementation. 

Let’s define it in this context as the execution of the service that was promised, understood sand approved when you bought the equipment.  The service to the paying customer, the service to the community

First and foremost, let’s examine the goals of connecting a piece of cardiovascular equipment for the people you serve.

What would those goals be?

  • Provide access to information while they are working out?
  •   Allow patrons to be engaged, even distracted during their workout so that the experience is better and more positive? (which one: engaged or distracted would be better?
  • Delivery of content to your patrons that could promote programs within your facility? (In fact a internal marketing program?)
  •  Provide asset management and usage information on the performance of your equipment? (This could assist with maintenance schedules and diagnostics on any challenges requiring attention).
  •  Help with goal setting and tracking to assist your patrons in getting desired results
  •  Enhance the fitness experience?
  • Provide additional revenue streams in allowing for tiered memberships ?
  • Provider tools for your staff to enhance the overall value of the experience, perhaps a feeder or part of a personal training program?
  • Provide user information, information that would allow you to quickly identify usage patterns, and visit frequency and the activity of choice when on the equipment ?
  •  Any more goals?

Without any goals established, it becomes very difficult to evaluate the need, the quality of the experience and the infrastructure required to exceed patron expectations.

Ah, yes, infrastructure

Very quickly during this discussion, this should be part of the implementation discuss. If we like some or all of the above goals, we need to them flip to implementation, also known as “execution”  towards achieving those goals.

The first question is Wired internet access or wireless, which is better?
Well, many think that wireless is the simplest and the cheapest to provide. And that would be correct!

Wireless is the cheapest to provide, and does not require much cable to connect to anything. After all , it is wireless!

So that is an advantage.

What are the drawbacks to wireless connectivity?

What about reliability of signal delivery?

Ever try and watch a video on your phone or laptop and get that “buffering” message?

What if 6 people want to do that on the machine and they cannot pull up the video?

Now, the positive, hip, engaged, connected and current experience at the fitness center is turning into a negative one with unhappy patrons asking staff what is wrong with the machines?

Not good, right?  That would not be good.

Suggestion:  examine the pros and cons of wireless vs wired before you make the “connectivity” discussion. If you peel back a couple of layers of the onion, you may find that the reliability issues are not what you want.  You may want the best possible delivery system for the best possible experience in your facility?

Last note:  We would assume that if you could provide an experience that was engaging to your patron, well, that would be better than one that is distracting to them?

We would want the exercise time to be at the foremost of the experience, not at the expense of connectivity.   The ability to surf the internet while on a machine and not working out, well that is one example of fitness NOT being foremost priority of the experience.

Speaking of connectivity, let’s connect as soon as possible on the facts about networked fitness.   Our philosophy at STAK Fitness is that all of the factors should be examined before investment. Maximum return should be at the forefront of your investment decision.

Posted by Greg Lawlor

STAK Fitness is a supply and education company working with facilities of all sizes across the country. We represent Precor fitness equipment into these facilities because, well, we feel this is one of the best products in order to meet your criteria of successfully offering fitness (see 5 reasons why we chose precor blog) . Precor established networked fitness as a category of equipment in 2010.  Since that time there have been 40 million workouts logged through their networked system. We understand reliability and serving people better through a premium experience.  We look forward to “connecting”.  You can see more on Precor networked fitness, called Preva at www.preva.com