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Technology has been the buzzword of 2018 in sport and fitness, and 2019 is set to be the year when fitness tech goes mainstream. But what are the implications of technology on leisure jobs? Can technology really replace humans in the leisure industry?
We take a look at some of the health and fitness technologies on our radar and assess the impact that each may have on the demand for health and fitness professionals.
Greener gym equipment
A treadmill which generates energy as its being used has been developed by a Taiwanese athletic equipment maker. It seems like something that should have been invented years ago, yet the technology to create something that uses power and generates it at the same time isn’t simple. These ‘green’ treadmills are able to generate some power and return it to the grid but it’s not going to make a dent in closing up the hole in the ozone layer; the output is minimal and the cost savings in the pennies rather than the pounds.
In terms of green credentials, it’s a good PR exercise and a gym in Brighton has already started to use them. Could knowing that you are contributing less to degrading the planet make you more likely to work out? Possibly, but it won’t dent demand for leisure professionals. It’s a good step in the right direction and who knows, with advances in technology, the fitness industry could one day be carbon neutral.
A surge in EMS?
Electrical Muscle Stimulation – or EMS – training was all over the place at FIBO2019. EMS training combines exercise with electric currents to make your muscles work harder, safely. This is HIIT with extra HI. This is one tech that works in tandem with a PT, who controls the EMS kit.
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Do you really need a Peloton?
Apparently everyone needs a Peloton. These are high-end exercise bikes which are a bike and class all in one. With the addition of a screen and smart technology, these are interactive, inspirational, and aspirational; the price tag of £2k is certainly an investment.
Could Pelotons reduce the need for fitness instructors? Potentially, yes these could have a major impact. With punters being able to join in a live session at a time of their choosing from the comfort of their own home, trips to the gym could be eliminated. As one instructor can handle hundreds of clients at the same time rather than a couple of dozen in a gym, then you’ll see why some personal trainers are concerned.
However, this remote method of exercise doesn’t suit everyone, and the hefty price tag will put them out of reach for most of us for a while yet. The future is coming, but it’s not here yet!
What could sports tech look like in your lifetime?
We love this tool from Coral – http://news.coral.co.uk/football/the-future-technology-of-sport – where you can enter your age and it will tell you what technology is likely to materialise and when. It’s good to see clothing that can help reduce impacts and minimise injuries, and also to see smart technology to help racehorses, but we’re not totally sold on the others.
We can see drones and AI being helpful to referees and umpires but we think it would be quite sad to see them take over completely – it’s not the same hurling abuse at an un-named robot when your favourite team is losing. And while robots could be a boon to those looking after sports pitches, we still think that the human touch will be essential here, as well as human knowledge. After all, someone will need to look after this growing metal army. Could some of these have an impact on leisure jobs for humans? Possibly, but we don’t think anyone needs to panic just yet.
What is wearable technology in fitness?
When you talk about fitness tech, most people will think of wearable tech. At the moment, wearable tech seems to be limited to measuring devices, such as FitBits and heart rate monitors.
Have a look at 6 health and fitness techs for 2019
Motiv’s fitness ring is a great example of how wearable tech is getting more advanced and smaller at the same time. The days of having to carry your phone in a clunky arm pouch will soon be gone. The fitness ring is small and powerful and is a somewhat affordable £199.
Could small be beautiful in 2019?
Can wearable tech make you healthier?
No the wearable tech cannot make you healthier – you actually have to put it on and do some exercise to be healthier. But while simply owning the tech won’t be effective on its own, it could encourage you to get out there more and enable you to track your progress, which could create a self-reinforcing cycle of good habits.
Companies like Vitality know this and are issuing insurance policy holders with tech such as Apple Watches and Garmins to encourage people into better exercise habits and rewarding (or punishing) them accordingly when they don’t reach their goals. Their aim is to get 100 million people 20% more active by 2025, and assumingly less likely to make a claim on their health and life insurance. Win/win all around.
Can wearable tech replace personal trainers?
It’s likely that some wearable tech has the potential to reduce the demand for personal trainers, but tech does not operate in a vacuum; it needs highly-skilled professionals to make, develop, and program the tech, and to interpret the data.
Not everyone will get on with the technology and there will be plenty of people happier to be shouted at by a human instead of beeped at by a robot or piece of jewellery. And there’s the social side of the gym too, and the motivational atmosphere; many people will say they’re happy to exercise at home but will they actually do it?
Much of the current technology is expensive and some have ongoing subscription fees which are commensurate with a gym and regular PT sessions. The real threat will come when it becomes cheaper and more effective to exercise using home technology than to go to a gym. Gym owners need to be mindful of the threats posed by wearable tech and try to incorporate wearable tech into their offering to complement traditional gym sessions and bring tech-lovers into the fold.
Is your job likely to be impacted by the rise in fitness technology?