Health Club Management August 19

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Will the body image debate define the future of fit-tech? Becca Douglas looks at the evidence


eople are facing increasing pressure to achieve levels of perfection in the way they look, causing one in five UK adults to worry about their body image, according to new research from the Mental Health Foundation. It’s important the health and fitness sector is mindful of how new technology and initiatives are delivered, to ensure we operate responsibly in relation to this challenge.


Many people join a gym or health club to get results. To understand if these have been achieved, you need to start the process with some form of measurement and continue this throughout the journey. What we still see in many health and fi tness facilities is operators using well established methods to predict fat mass, such as callipers to measure skin folds. While popular, the accuracy of measures from such devices depends on the skill of the person doing the test. Thanks to fit-tech and advancements in this area we no longer need to rely on manual methods. With just a touch of a button, fitness professionals can offer the end user (and their health and fitness professional) powerful visuals as well as a set of accurate measurements. 76

Chris Rock from Excelsior says: “For clients that are confident enough to be analysed, body scanning allows for a detailed assessment that provides an initial benchmark. These can be consistently repeated to provide ongoing biometrics, which can be a real motivator to the client, if the results are moving in the right direction! When it comes to mental health, Rock says:“Even a less than favourable result can be turned into a positive if the client is suitably directed or redirected to modify their behaviour or routine accordingly.”

“ People join gyms because they want to change their bodies, surely, we should be in a position to the help them achieve this PHILLIP MIDDLETON, DERWENT August 2019 ©Cybertrek 2019

Rock continues: “Since body scanning allows for numerical values to be generated, and in some cases, a visual representation created, both the client’s logical and emotional needs are more likely to be satisfied, giving better results. “This combination of measuring body composition in numbers and pictures can be reassuring for clients, particularly if the number on the scale isn’t changing because their body fat is lowering, while their muscle mass is increasing. “If the assessment method is simply using the scales or taking photographs or using their reflection in the mirror, the client may not gain a true insight into the changes their body is making. Lack of understanding leads to lack of action.” Phillip Middleton, founder and MD of Derwent says: “Some unhealthy diet and exercise behaviours stem from people having a distorted body image. By using technology to accurately measure body composition we can inform and educate people about their internal body make-up and devise exercise routines to assist them in reaching more reasonable goals, linked to a more healthy lifestyle. “People join gyms because they want to change their bodies. Surely, we should be in a position to help them achieve this through education and realistic target setting? We can only do this if we have