Using digital health information with your client

One thing is for sure, the fitness landscape is changing and personal trainers need to catch up or risk being caught out. An estimated 19 million fitness-tracking devices were in use in 2014 and a recent report by Juniper Research predicts that the use of activity trackers will triple by 2018. The Fitness Industry Technology Council, FIT-C, reports the wearables market is poised to grow from 14 million devices shipped in 2011 to 171 million devices shipped by 2016; 60% being fitness related.

I have seen a number of blogs and statements positioning wearables/fitness apps against a dedicated fitness professional, and the reasons why (quite rightly) a fitness professional will always give the client better results. What I have not seen is a way for fitness professionals to use the fast growing trend of wearables, fitness apps or digital health services to their benefit, to engage, motivate and retain clients. This is what I will set out to answer.

Insights

Client biometric, fitness and nutritional information and data. A resource which some fitness professionals pay a lot of attention to, whereas others are happy to roll out the same programme client after client. Just as it’s happened in professional sports like football and rugby, health, nutrition and fitness data specific to an individual is key to unlocking the best results for your clients.

Typically some of this data was gathered when a client joined a gym, performed sporadically afterwards and never fully utilised as an essential piece in a fitness professional’s armoury. Now, clients have mobile phones which track movement, distance and provide an easy portal to log food consumption. Wearables are becoming more popular, tracking heart rate, body temperature, movement and steps, even providing step by step guides on workouts and exercises. So much data for a fitness professional to use to their advantage.

As a fitness professional I have had clients who occasionally has a bad training session. They couldn’t lift what they did previously, run as fast or as far as I know they could and wondered why they have stopped losing weight?

By reviewing recent digital health data gathered such as, how much sleep they have had, whether their resting and average heart rates where elevated which may indicate stress, low hydration, number of steps taken, food intake, I can see why they were not as focused and energetic at my last training session. This allowed me to tailor their workout session to maximise the clients potential for that day or help to make changes for the next. Helping the client stay motivated by always feeling positive steps are being taken.

Augmenting and adding value

Digital health services like Fitbit and Microsoft Health provide basic information based on general guidelines. This information can be augmented by a fitness professional, making it specific to their client, ultimately adding value to the fitness professional’s service and more importantly, ensuring their service is included in the wearable device ecosystem.

By using data captured the fitness professional can gain more accurate and real world view of their client, from heart rate to sleep tracking and daily activity levels. Substantially more than what could be gained from the test room and avoiding the influence of ‘white coat syndrome’.

Most trackers provide calories burned daily, taking this value and making any adjustments, breaking it down into macro nutrient values, based on the client’s goals, dietary requirements and their specific lifestyle, and presenting to them both verbally and digitally, gives the client information they would not have had if it wasn’t for a fitness professional.

Frequent biometric and fitness testing becomes increasingly important when working in digital health ecosystem, where the client is used to seeing new and up to date information every day, hour, or even minute by minute.

By making biometric and fitness testing a regular part of the services provided by a fitness professional, the fitness professional can add metrics and information for the client to view which is beyond wearable devices and the expertise of the client to perform themselves.

By providing clients with indications of progress, combining metrics such as, common goals, activity levels, weight loss, and increase in vo2max or strength tests, into a single value you can see a simple and clear value on a client’s progress. This can be used in gamification, adding a competitive edge amongst clients in improving when these values are displayed for all to see.

Existing services aimed at fitness professionals like BIOFIT (www.biometricfitness.co.uk) are cross platform apps that can be used for client management and can also provide an app experience to the client. This can be either as part of the fitness professional’s service, or something additional to upsell the particular clients, along with fitness testing sessions.

Allowing your clients to access a service like BIOFIT provides your client an experience above other fitness professionals. This can be from initial PARQ to gathering and presenting augmented information from a digital health provider like Fitbit.

Using an existing service makes consuming digital health information a breeze. Examples of this are around body composition and macro nutrient guidelines. Using the number of steps and estimated calorie requirement along with the macro nutrient rations and calorie adjustment set by the fitness professional, BIOFIT can provide information on dietary requirements per meal, for both active and non-active days. With the information presented in text and charts for both the client and fitness professional to review.

The emphasis here is to give the fitness professional more information, so instead of technology distancing the client from the trainer, BIOFIT creates talking and instruction points for the trainer to strengthen that relationship.

So next time a potential client asks if they should use a tracker or your service, the answer is use both! Together they provide the most comprehensive and individualised service for anyone looking to meet their health and fitness goals by incorporating fitness and nutritional changes.

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Published by

james baldwinson

Personal Trainer, lead developer and architect of the BIOFIT project

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