Are you Square Fit?
- Report from IHRSA (International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association), March 2016 Orlando, Florida, USA -
Almost two years to the day, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network had purchased the virtual reality start-up Oculus Rift, for around $2 billion, the VR units appeared at IHRSA and Mark’s sister Randi Zuckerberg was a keynote speaker.
Sponsored by Matrix Fitness, Randi’s Keynote, ‘It’s Dot Complicated’ was the first IHRSA keynote to use social media channels to broadcast her inspirational session live. For those who missed it, and in advance of the Leisure Database Social Media Index Report, the top five social media channels for fitness professionals are; number one, YouTube, video is the way to engage with your audience but few in the UK have this as their priority so far. Six out of the top ten public sector brands do not have a channel and only five private brands have over 200,000 views. Number two is Facebook, no surprises there! Facebook is the most common social media platform amongst UK fitness sites. Number three is Linkedin. As professionals you can target influencers and expand your network. Four is Instagram. I’ve already spoken about how many public and private fitness brands are neglecting this highly engaging and superior indexing platform. Five is Twitter, the second most popular platform in the UK. Lots of trade suppliers, including MyZone and Precor used Periscope on Twitter to share, live, their IHRSA showcase.
On the IHRSA show floor it was like CES (Consumer Electronics Show) meets Fitness. MyZone, Polar, Microsoft, Intel, Reebok, NEO and Garmin were among the main companies who made the move from Vegas in January to Orlando in March while new technology was evident amongst almost all companies exhibiting. It seemed like there was an app for everything. Seminars like, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Impact on the Fitness Industry, came from Technogym daily. Precor had a separate section on ‘the future’ and were showing, real time configuration, in use in the UK at EasyGym, where you can pay reception for screen access. MyZone booth moved centre stage with the new app, sports bra (launched CES 2016), new integrated tee shirt, group display and a host of online platforms.
Recon Jet smart eyewear
As a cyclist I liked the Recon Jet smart eyewear from Intel, also launched at CES. The performance eyewear frame and lenses wakes up using glance detection to provide live metrics like heart rate, speed, cadence and power. The point-of-view-camera enables you to capture the moment and the GPS maps can be used to show location of other riders, useful when doing endurance rides. Microsoft Health is a good example of a tech company looking for a cause and the Band with continuous optical heart rate monitor, GPS, guided workouts and the usual calls and texts, email and calendar looks and feels too much like the now defunct Nike Fuel Band.
Wearables and trackers have now been joined with alternate and mixed reality technologies that are poised to invade the fitness space. Although the early target market for Oculus Rift are gamer’s, fitness suppliers, like UK based Pulse Fitness, have introduced gamification for added motivation. Pulse Interactive Fitness combines facial recognition and augmented reality (AR) using Oculus Rift. With a tilt of the head the game starts and the Trixter bike takes you on an AR ride. Linked live to multiplayers worldwide the results are shown on the bike, in the headset and on a big screen for the local audience. Zumba have developed a 360 degree virtual reality (VR) dance class using Oculus Rift. For those who have always dreamed of dancing with Beto Perez stop dreaming, do it via VR.
Besides Oculus Rift the HTC Vive is coming, Sony’s PlayStation VR will be with us soon along with Microsoft HoloLens and Google is looking to expand Cardboard. Samsung Gear VR headset, which Oculus also powers, enables you to select the Samsung smartphone to snap into the headset, this combination was used by Zumba. We are at the beginning of a VR and AR journey and due to the billions been spent on this technology we will all know about this cool, engaging and immersive experience very soon.
As I walked through the event I was struck how the square photograph has become the norm, square images fill our Twitter streams, Facebook dashboards and of course Instagram. Many of the suppliers know this and have adopted it as standard, many consumers swipe the phone so photos are square on, permanently. Square is another example of how social media has changed the way consumers experience and report on the world around them, are you square on fit?