A recent article on equipment usage in fitness clubs reminded me of a couple of things:

1) Rachel Bachman, who wrote The Wall Street Journal article, is one of the best fitness industry reporters in the business. (Here’s the story I wrote on CrossFit and Planet Fitness based on another of her stories earlier this year.)

2) Dave Johnson of Ecofit, one of the people quoted in the equipment usage article, was one of the people I talked to for my fitness technology story for the Athletic Business September issue.

Johnson’s discussion on how Ecofit wirelessly tracks equipment performance at various clubs around the country ended up on the cutting room floor for my article on technological disruption in the fitness industry. In our interview, Johnson did share why some clubs are hesitant to go all-in on technology.

“A lot of people are avoiding committing to technology and buying technology because they’re worried that they’ll make the wrong technology decision,” Johnson told me. “It is critical that the systems that you do choose are going to be able to play well in an open environment and not pigeon-hole you into using certain solutions and being stuck with them.”

Athletic Business: Technological Advances Disrupting the Fitness Industry

Some clubs, as I noted for Athletic Business, are warming up to technology. In the Wall Street Journal article, Bachman writes, “As competition grows, more clubs are using data analysis, consultants and Wi-Fi-connected equipment to quantify what’s happening on a fitness floor.”

Johnson, whose company has worked with Crunch, UFC Gym and 24 Hour Fitness, shared some interesting feedback with Bachman that Ecofit receives from club operators. Johnson said club owners are surprised at how often their equipment malfunctions, and that members move to the next machine rather than complain about it.

Precor can record usage on its equipment as well, according to the article. Jeff Bartee, principal product manager at Precor, told Bachman some cardio equipment allows members to log in and save workouts. Members who save workouts tend to go to the gym more often, he added.

The focus of the piece centered on Midtown Athletic Clubs and GYMetrix, the tracking company that produces a time-lapse map of the gym floor with growing and shrinking bubbles that illustrate the action in the club, along with usage data. GYMetrix, which also has done work for Equinox and Blink Fitness, has shown through its analysis that members tend to use simpler machines rather than the newest, fanciest equipment in the middle of the club. That analysis has helped Midtown CEO Steve Schwartz decide to take out some underused machines in favor of more treadmills and lat pull-down machines that are more popular in the club, according to the article.

GYMetrix founder Rory McGown shared the mistakes club operators make in the purchase and placement of equipment. I highly recommend reading McGown’s comments and the entire article. And my article, too.


Stuart Goldman is Editor of iClubs.