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PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

AC TI V IT Y TR AC K I N G

Our research shows activity tracking has no impact on retention in some groups, but increases cancellation by up to 23 per cent in others Meanwhile, the odds of being a tracker are lower if members’ motives for exercise are: ● To maintain health and wellbeing (16 per cent lower odds of being a tracker) ● To have more energy (9 per cent lower odds of being a tracker) ● To lose weight (7 per cent lower odds) Other types of motivations don’t differ between groups. However, even though they’re less likely to exercise specifically to lose weight, more trackers than non-trackers report losing weight (63 per cent vs 51 per cent). Similarly, more trackers will report feeling fitter (91 per cent vs 88 per cent), improving the way they look (78 per cent vs 69 per cent), having more energy (84 per cent vs 79 per cent) and feeling happier (88 per cent vs 84 per cent) and healthier (90 per cent vs 87 per cent).

Activity tracking is less common among members aged over 45

One key thing to note, however, is that it isn’t currently possible to determine whether members who make good progress choose to track their activity, or whether tracking leads to more progress. This requires additional research. IMPACT ON RETENTION? Trackers are 22 per cent more likely to cancel each month compared to non-trackers – equivalent to four extra cancellations a month for every 1,000 members that start the month. However, taking account of other factors – such as differences in age, gender, length of membership and visit frequency – reduces the increased risk among trackers from 22 per cent to 10 per cent. That is, our research shows that activity tracking per se leads to a 10 per cent increased risk of leaving. But this varies across different demographic groups. Among younger, male members there was no association between tracking and risk of cancelling, whereas among older male members the risk of cancelling each month was 23 per cent higher in trackers, even when other factors were taken into account. Among females, there was no relationship between app use and increased risk of cancellation. So why these differences between genders and ages? It’s possible that middleaged males who track their exercise have more unrealistic expectations about the

changes in their physique and the way they look compared to other members, and when these expectations are not met they may cancel their membership (see briefing, p54). Whatever the reason, with many clubs viewing tracking and the use of wearables as a key retention solution – and indeed as an alternative to staff coaching and feedback – this first study to examine this question suggests a rethink is needed. More research is now required to build on the results of this study. We need to better understand what it is users of tracking technology are hoping their wearables are doing for them, and how fitness staff can interact with members and their wearables to help people better achieve their goals. ● ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr Melvyn Hillsdon is associate professor of exercise and health at the University of Exeter, where he researches physical activity and population health. Since his landmark retention report in 2001 (Winning the Retention Battle), he has published numerous reports into the determinants of membership retention.

©Cybertrek 2016 healthclubmanagement.co.uk September 2016

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Profile for Leisure Media

HealthClubManagement September 2016  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.

HealthClubManagement September 2016  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.