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Is Your Health Club Keeping Up with Technology?
By Jim Schmaltz, January 13, 2020
These days, running a health club requires a broader skillset than in years past. Members demand a greater variety of programming, forcing clubs to understand supply chains and equipment options that weren’t part of gym culture as recently as 15 years ago. Today’s multipurpose and fitness-only clubs need to integrate group X and small group training (SGT), which offers numerous challenges in space allocation, hiring instructors and identifying the appropriate classes for your membership.
But what really can take today’s club owners out of their comfort zone is the pressure to keep up with new technology. The always mutating world of social media and digital marketing requires a knowledge of communication ecosystems that obey their own rules and customs. Then there’s the audio and visual production equipment necessary for many group training classes.
Audio and visual production is integral to many group training classes.
And if that’s not enough, tech compliance demands that club owners understand the continual upgrades to the digital tools that make all of this possible. From your CRM software that collects member data to the sound systems that power group X classes, your club has to keep up with rules, regulations, and equipment changes on the fly.
For instance, there’s the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect in 2018 in the European Union. These privacy and data regulations are important to every business owner who collects data on consumers. IHRSA has a webinar on GDPR compliance to help club owners understand the new law. With legislation pending in U.S. local and federal governments, more of these restrictions will be coming on the books in the near future.
Then there’s the widespread introduction of 5G that’s coming over the next few years. This will super-power today’s download speeds and create new challenges and opportunities for clubs.
GDPR and 5G are well-publicized changes in the tech world that you need to be aware of. But what about the other upgrades and new regulations that affect your digital services that fly under the radar? How do you stay on top of those?
Can You Hear Me Now?
Case in point: Are you familiar with the FCC frequency re-allocation that affects wireless equipment? Specifically, the new regulations mean that wireless microphone transmitters and receivers that operate in the 600 MHz service band will be required to cease operation no later than July 13, 2020. This is the result of T-Mobile purchasing the 600MHz bandwidth.
For many years microphone manufacturers sold 600MHZ, but now you need to replace them with compliant frequencies. It’s an obscure change to most of us, but to sound professionals it’s significant, and it could be a factor in your club’s ability to conduct group X and other critical services.
This FCC MHz re-allocation is just one example of how tech can change without widespread notice. How are business owners like health club operators supposed to know that their sound system is suddenly out of date?
“How are business owners like health club operators supposed to know that their sound system is suddenly out of date?”
It’s not just legislation and government regulators that force businesses to change or upgrade equipment, hardware innovations can also make your current technology obsolete. Consider that new versions of many smartphones don’t have headphone jacks anymore. This removal of the 3.5-mm headphone plug-in was pioneered by Apple but adopted by other high-end phones, including several Samsung and Google products.
This change caught many off-guard, including fitness instructors who could no longer plug their phones into club equipment. This becomes a big problem if the club doesn’t have Bluetooth capability.
Again, these are the types of details that affect services that aren’t top of mind to a club owner dealing with a million other concerns. They need experts who can help them with technology compliance in a world that never sits still for long. And, ideally, these tech specialists should understand the specific needs of today’s full-service health clubs.
Hiring Sound & Visual Specialists for the Digital Age
Staying on top of technology trends in the fitness world is the core mission of AV Now Fitness Sound. Since 1994, the company has focused on bringing the highest levels of audio and visual capabilities to clubs at an affordable price. With the growing popularity of SGT and group X, AV Now’s services are more critical than ever to clubs seeking to stay on top of the health club food chain.
These are the professionals who will find you the most cost-effective way to maintain tech compliance. Joshua Haydon, Director of Business Development for AV Now Fitness Sound, says that the company was way ahead of this year’s FCC MHz changes.
“We stopped selling 600 MHz over a year ago,” explains Haydon. “We have dozens of instructors and clubs reach out to us weekly, so we can make sure they are compliant. We also help them to find a rebate or discount program that they can take advantage of.”
Because AV Now understands the needs of health club owners, they can better prepare facilities for hardware changes as well. When Apple discontinued the iPhone jack for headphones, AV Now quickly helped clubs transition to Bluetooth systems. They carry an easy add-on Bluetooth player made specifically for the fitness industry, according to Haydon.
AV Now does more than service audio equipment and install premium sound systems. They’re also experts at lighting services that can help take your group X and SGT sessions to the next level. With so many of today’s club members demanding experiential services, this confers a competitive advantage to your brand. And with AV Now on your side, you won’t have to worry about falling behind the tech curve.
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