As I sit here thinking of what to write about digital business and transformation, I can’t help but think – it really hurts to be sitting right now! Last Monday I started an Orange Theory membership, my latest fitness adventure. For those that have never heard of Orange Theory, it’s a fitness class that is entirely based around technology. Before class you strap an Orange Theory branded heart-rate monitor to your arm and for the next 60 minutes you move through various interval workouts. However, it takes a different approach to intervals in that instead of having them based on speed or how many reps you complete, each interval is defined by how fast your heart-rate is at any given moment. Displayed on monitors located throughout the studio, you see you and your classmates tiles colored according to your current heart-rate “zone,” as well as the calories you’ve burned, your “splat” minutes (i.e., time you’ve spent in the “orange zone” aka the fat-burn zone), and your heart-rate.
But the benefit to me is greater than the creepy factor, so I let it go and sign up for more classes. I’m no stranger to giving my fitness data away willingly (or as I like to call it my “un-fitness” data). I got my first Fitbit almost a decade ago (that’s back before they even had the heart-rate monitors in them and were literally just a pedometer with a fancy app). I impulse bought a scale in the Home Depot checkout line a year and a half ago because it tracked not only weight, but also body fat %, hydration level, bone mass, and muscle mass through an associated app. Like the gin and TV reading, these purchases/habits/activities were a symptom of greater shifts occurring in my life. Each of these products coincided with a specific struggle to improve my health while living an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. I got my first Fitbit after graduating from undergrad and the realities of my first office job started setting in. I bought the “smart scale” when I realized an MBA program had me moving even less than my office job and needed another motivator in my life. And finally I started at Orange Theory because a year of working from home means I rarely have a reason to leave the house (other than to sit in a classroom). All throughout my un-fitness journey there’s a different technology (and thus a digital business) to help me through these struggles. So I willingly and ignorantly give them my data and thank them for taking it.
After my Orange Theory class today, I hung around and asked one of the “coaches” how they personally use the data and found out it helps them refine their teaching techniques. Their goal is to have a certain number of total splat points after every class (based on the group size and each individual attendee). However, the coach said they always reach those KPIs because of the structure of the class: 20 minutes treadmill, 20 minutes rowing, and 20 minutes strength training always ends up being more than 12 minutes of fat-burn zone time per person. Instead, they use members’ data on the screens to know when they should help encourage someone to push harder (if it’s supposed to be “All Out”), tell someone to pull back (if it’s supposed to be “Base Pace”), or alter/correct their instructions (if members’ tile colors are all the different colors of the rainbow) to ensure attendees have the most effective interval training. After all, more effective training –> better results –> higher member retention –> more money for the business. The coach also said he knows the company uses member data to refine workout segment order, number of reps, time per activity, etc., but hadn’t really considered data privacy issues or the other ways the company could use member workout data (he also must have skimmed the terms and conditions).
Orange Theory is just one example in the fitness space where consumers are expecting greater individualization, tailoring, and remote access. We went from having basic gyms to Mirror home gyms (still can’t wrap my head around that one) and SoulCycle to Peloton. I can’t help but find it interesting how the more permeated our society is with technology, the more sedentary we become in our work and day-to-day lives, which in turn makes us rely on technology to help us become more active.
Do you use any technology to help you stay healthy (meditation/sleep apps, nutrition apps, fitness apps, etc.)?
If yes, what do you use and what do you like/dislike about it? What are your thoughts on the data they collect about you? Do you care or know how they use that data?