Health and fitness wearables and technology have developed with such speed that personal trainers can feel threatened by the new kid on the block. By being smart in your approach to this tech, you can not only retain your role as an enabler of better health and wellbeing, but also dramatically enhance it, writes fitness educator Kyle Riley.
The ability to capture bio-data through wearable technology and other non-invasive means, coupled with the ability of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to synthesise huge volumes of data, predict and learn at incredible speeds, has resulted in advanced fitness technology being available to us all, 24/7, on our phones.
These app-based technologies boast the functionality to create expertly-designed personal training programs with easy-to-follow instructions and demonstrations. Some also provide nutritional protocols that factor in genetics and a host of other biological data points to provide highly customised meal plans that go far beyond a person’s macros and calories.
Developments like this are changing the fitness industry landscape, with this level of personalisation becoming a standard expectation as clients get more familiar with the data insights made possible by fitness technology. The technological immersion enforced by the global pandemic in 2020 only exacerbated these expectations.
As exciting as these advancements are, there is a voice of concern in the back of every PT’s mind asking ‘Where does that leave us?’
Will the evolution of fitness technology make 1-on-1 personal trainers redundant? Not if we are smart. The fact is, you can’t deny its existence, and refusal to get on board the tech train risks leaving you stranded. Personal trainers have a great opportunity to capitalise on this technology to enhance the client experience.
Here are some ways to make tech an ally, not an enemy, of your personal training operation.
In order to capitalise on technology, you must be aware of its current capabilities and track the latest developments. Doing so will enable you to understand the role it will play in a client’s daily life. Check out the app store, trial different apps and seek the latest developments online. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the future of your fitness business. Check out ph360, Volt and FitnessAI for some great examples of fitness tech utilising AI.
Rather than be fearful of the jobs fitness tech is taking away from you, look to see how you can utilise it to take care of time-intensive work, such as program design, so that you can focus on spending more time in areas of your business that the client actually sees value in (more on this in the next point).
While you can’t compete with AI’s speed of learning and decision making, you can leave it in the dust when it comes to the ‘human’ aspect of client care. AI might be able to provide the perfect meal plan, taking into consideration tens of thousands of data points that one human brain could never comprehend, but getting the client to actually commit and follow the meal plan provided is a completely different story.
Your job is to provide the personal aspect of the client’s training. The true value of the service you deliver will be found in your ‘human skills’:
Wearable technology can provide the trainer with around-the-clock insight into a client’s habits, behaviours and even physiological responses. Gone are the days of reading a diet or exercise diary five minutes before your client turns up. Now, you can understand markers such as sleep, stress, workout intensity and calories burned in sessions outside of those undertaken with you, and use this data to personalise an upcoming session, or tweak a long term program to deliver on a client’s exact needs.
For example, you may notice your client’s sleep and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) scores have not been great over the last four days, indicating stress and a poor level of recovery. Knowing this, you can switch out that ‘AMRAP from hell’ you had planned for something a little lower in intensity and recovery-focused.
The value of personal training is changing: no longer is it based solely on your expertise or the information you deliver, but the experience you create. A client can find exercise programs, as well as information on sleep, stress, nutrition and more, online. However, they will likely be overwhelmed by all of the conflicting information and lack the drive and know-how to put it into action. This is where your value lies: in providing support and bringing together their wellness plan in an easy-to-follow and sustainable way.
Focus your attention on things such as behavioural change – helping your client understand what their smart watch is telling them about their health, and keeping them accountable to the small, attainable goals you help them to outline. This will provide long term results for your client and long term success in your fitness business.
This is only the beginning of some incredible advancements to come, as technology becomes increasingly integrated into the fitness industry. As long as there is a need for human connection, however, there will be a role for the personal trainer. The key is to utilise the best of technology and evolve your services to further support the human needs of your clients.
Find out more about how you can utilise the latest technology in personalised health and become a personalised health coach at ph360 health professionals
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kyle Riley is COO and Director of Education at ph360 Health Professionals. Having worked in all areas of the fitness industry for more than a decade, Kyle’s focus is now firmly on the future of epigenetics, personalised health and AI technology’s role in transforming both the fitness industry and world health.