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SIBEC 2015: Gym staff need to become ‘tech geeks’

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Staff in gyms should broaden their knowledge of wearable technology so that they can keep pace with consumers and provide authoritative advice on which pieces of fitness technology are best suited to their individual needs.

This was one of several interesting ideas floated during a lively panel session on the first morning of SIBEC 2015 in Birmingham.

According to Graeme Hinde, managing director of LFX, it’s imperative that fitness professionals keep abreast of consumer trends to ensure that the gym remains a relevant and engaging environment for physical activity. He said instructors should be able to recommend pieces of wearable tech and apps to match their training goals in the same way they would suggest exercises and nutrition plans.

“We need to rapidly adapt to changing fitness environments – it’s vital to keep pace and be able to advise which app works best for each activity,” said Hinde.

“If you go into an Apple Store, some of the staff will have never exercised in their lives but they’re absolute tech geeks when it comes to how we should use the Apple health and fitness platform. That level of knowledge is where we need to get to.”

Fellow panelist Justin Musgrove, managing director of The Bannatyne Group, agreed that it’s vital for the industry to rapidly get up to speed on wearable tech to “avoid being caught cold.” He noted that apps offer a prime opportunity for PTs to remain an important presence in their clients’ lives away from the gym, enabling them to dispense advice on areas such as exercise, nutrition and sleep - thus providing members with a “full 360 degree approach to wellness.”

Both discussion host Steve Ward (ukactive executive director) and panelist David McLean (Edinburgh Leisure fitness manager) made the point that it’s essential for fitness professionals to be fully-qualified and trained on how to give advice on wellness aspects such as nutrition. For Maclean, this meant not only possessing the knowledge base, but also ensuring trainers are well equipped with the questioning skills and grounding in behavioural change to ascertain exactly what the client wants.

Places for People Leisure CEO Sandra Dodd, who was also on the panel, noted that the potential for members to receive expert advice on both nutrition and exercise means that health clubs and gyms should consider exactly how they are marketing their services. She said marketing a health club membership as representing a healthy lifestyle, with the associated happiness and disease-prevention that comes with exercise, would resonate far more strongly with consumers than simply advertising weight loss and ‘drop a dress size’ gimmicks.

Health Club Management will be reporting live updates for the duration of the event. Head of news Jak Phillips will also be live-tweeting from the event, follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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Staff in gyms should broaden their knowledge of wearable technology so that they can keep pace with consumers and provide authoritative advice on which pieces of fitness technology are best suited to their individual needs.
(L-R) Steven Ward, Justin Musgrove, David McLean, Sandra Dodd and Graeme Hinde participate in the panel session at SIBEC 2015


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