No Data Scientist Required: How Gyms and Fitness Clubs are Leveraging AI and Machine Learning

Keepme's Events & PR Marketing Manager, Amy McDermott, explores how technological advancements such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are reshaping the fitness industry, demonstrating how state of the art solutions are not the preserve of the most tech-savvy operators - they're available to all.
Amy McDermott
Amy McDermott
April 2nd, 2024
No Data Scientist Required: How Gyms and Fitness Clubs are Leveraging AI and Machine Learning

In recent years, 2023 particularly, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have helped numerous industries make huge strides forward. The fitness sector might not have been as quick to embrace these technological advances, but there is no denying that change is coming, and we better be ready for it when it does. As Keepme CEO, Ian Mullane, said on a recent podcast - "There is an inevitability about what is going to happen here, and any delusion that this is going back into the box is just ridiculous."

Having attended many Industry events globally, and through conversations with operators, it is not lost on me that people who deem themselves not a ‘Data Scientist’, or even not ‘tech savvy’ have strayed away from the realm of AI. But I am here to tell you, you don’t need to understand how it all works, you just have to learn how to apply it within your facility. 

There is an increasing expectation for all interactions to be ‘hyper personalized’, and as gyms and fitness clubs strive to enhance their services and provide the best experiences for their members, they are increasingly harnessing the power of AI and ML to deliver on this. In this blog, I will explore how these technological advancements are reshaping the fitness industry.

Personalized Workout Programs

AI and ML algorithms have the ability to analyze vast amounts of data, allowing gyms and Personal Trainers to provide personalized workout programs tailored to individual members. By considering factors such as age, fitness level, goals, and preferences, AI can create customized routines that take into account each member's specific needs. The outcome of the plan is only as good as the level of information you are able to supply, and this is where the quality and accuracy of your data comes into play. 

As you can imagine, by plugging in the above information and letting AI do the heavy lifting (pardon the pun), PTs can provide a hyper-personalized experience for their clients much more efficiently than sitting down and writing these programs themselves. 

This not only helps gyms attract and retain members, but it also ensures that every individual receives the most effective and targeted workout plan for them, as personalized and accurate as their Netflix recommendations or that strange Spotify DJ who talks to you and suggests songs.

Enhanced Customer Service

AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are increasingly playing a pivotal role in enhancing customer service for gyms and fitness clubs. They can pick up manual ‘low skill’ level tasks such as:

  • Automating replies to frequently asked questions

  • Managing appointment bookings

  • Providing immediate on-demand support

These intelligent bots can assist staff members by handling routine inquiries, freeing up their time to focus on more complex member requests and enhance that all important face-to-face time with members on your gym floor. This streamlining of customer service not only improves efficiency but also ensures that members receive prompt and accurate assistance.

Keepme CEO, Ian, is a member of the Board for UAE Operator Gymnation, who are undoubtedly leading the way in automating their customer service. They have an AI Assistant named ‘Albus’ to assist with enquiries on their site. 

At the recent Beyond Activ Event in Saudi Arabia, GymNation announced they will soon launch ‘Jenny AI’, which (or ‘who’ as far as prospects are concerned) is an AI Powered, voice capable sales assistant. Jenny will have the capability to take a lead right through from prospecting to onboarding and close a happy new member, all with zero human intervention.

Predictive Analytics for Membership Retention

One of the significant challenges for gyms globally, has always been member retention. However, AI is now helping combat this in a way we have never had access to before, and the Keepme platform has been paving the way for AI driven predictions around member churn since as far back as 2019.

By analyzing first party member data, including attendance patterns, class preferences, engagement levels, and payment histories, gyms can identify members with a higher probability of attrition, long before they even might recognise themselves that they are showing signs of leaving. Keepme also includes the tools necessary for intervening before it is too late, whether this is with personalized offers, rewards, or special programs. 

A unique feature of Keepme is the Keepme Score™ - a unique metric that uses data and machine learning to predict if a member might leave. Each member is assigned a ‘score’ based on their behavioral patterns. For example, someone who attended x4 classes per week in January but in February has dropped to x2 classes per week, will have a decreasing score, signaling that they require intervention before March/April hits and it is too late.

Now, this is going to sound technical considering I am trying to appeal to the ‘non tech savvy’ of you - but I am just going to explain what Keepme does, so you don’t have to.

The Machine Learning within the Keepme platform uses a model called ‘Random Forest’ which uses a data set found in a given gym's existing MMS. For the sake of this example, we will say a gym has 42 different data points on an individual - such as age, membership type, attendance records, etc. These 42 data points will generate 8.8 million decision trees. When you add together all of the potential outcomes that these decision trees can generate, that is when we have a highly accurate prediction of what an individual is likely to do.

Once you have these predictions, the platform also provides the outreach tools to be proactive in your retention efforts. This can significantly increase loyalty and reduce churn rates. The full suite of tools available here means that you can identify when a member is petering off, intervene with a highly tailored offer, and bring them back happier than ever - before they even knew they were on their way out!

Biometric Tracking and Health Monitoring

If you have attended any fitness industry event with a trade show element in the past couple of years, you will be well aware of the increasing popularity of fitness wearables. Some have been on the market for many years - think Fitbits and Apple Watches, continually updating their technology; others have come out in recent years such as Whoop bands and Oura rings.

These AI-powered wearables combine advanced sensors, machine learning algorithms, and biometric data such as heart rate and sleep patterns to provide actionable insights, personalized recommendations, and enhanced tracking capabilities for improving fitness, health, and overall well-being.

While many of these began as B2C products, gyms are increasingly finding ways to insert themselves into the mix. Myzone, a wearable heart rate tracking device, is now commonly integrated by gyms and fitness clubs via their cardio equipment or offered to members to wear during exercise classes, allowing users to monitor their heart rate in real-time and ensure they are exercising within their target heart rate zones. Everyone's individual heart rate tracker can be displayed on a screen for all to follow - so everyone will see if you are slacking!

Efficient Production of Marketing Content

Not all gyms have the luxury of a Marketing Team, or even a Marketing dedicated role. Generative AI has been a game changer for such operations. With Open AI platforms such as Chat GPT and Claude.AI taking simple prompts and being able to form blogs, emails, news articles from them.

In order for websites to rank highly on google, they need to be producing regular content and optimizing for relevant keywords. For a facility with no dedicated marketing professional this wouldn’t have been an achievable goal just a few years ago, now it is absolutely within reach. There are online courses available in ‘prompt engineering’ that teach individuals how to effectively brief these Open AI platforms in order to get the best quality output. It is likely that in a few years time job descriptions will no longer have ‘Fluent in Microsoft Office’ but ‘Fluent in prompt engineering’ listed in their requirements.

In 2023, Keepme produced the first fitness industry specific AI driven content generator. ‘Creator’ links directly to your brand's website, drawing on all of your existing content to make sure anything it produces is in your brand's specific tone of voice. Creator can also take old content, and optimize it for SEO. 

"If you have tried some of the AI content tools on the market, you will find the results are never quite right. So, once I heard that Keepme was coming out with their content creator tool, I had very low expectations. But I have been pleasantly surprised by the diversity with this tool! I have played around with the “tone of voice” and it is spot on."

Meredith DeAngelis - CMO, Village Health Clubs & Spas
Meredith DeAngelis
CMO, Village Health Clubs & Spas

Advanced Equipment and Safety

AI and ML are also making waves in the development of innovative fitness equipment. Smart machines can now adjust resistance, range of motion, and load based on the user's feedback, making gym sessions safer and more efficient. AI algorithms can analyze workout patterns and biomechanics to detect and prevent potential injuries by alerting users or instructors in real-time. Bio Strength by Techno gym is a good example of this technology, with the tagline ‘Adapts to you’

With such advancements, gyms can ensure the overall safety and well-being of their members, attracting and retaining those who prioritize their health and fitness. A couple of other examples that are just plain cool include Bowflex’s rep counting dumbbells & MAGIC Mirrors form correcting, weight tracking capabilities.

In terms of safety and equipment maintenance, AI-powered sensors and IoT devices can now monitor equipment usage, facility occupancy, and maintenance needs in real-time. This helps gym managers optimize equipment maintenance schedules, ensure equipment availability, and improve facility operations. Companies like Folio3 provide such maintenance solutions.

To wrap up… 

The integration of AI and ML technologies is revolutionizing the fitness industry, empowering gyms and fitness clubs to provide personalized experiences, enhance customer service, and improve member retention. 

As the fitness industry continues to embrace AI and ML, gym operators must adapt to stay competitive. By leveraging these technologies effectively, you can streamline your operations, increase member satisfaction, and fuel the future success of your businesses. In this age of technological advancements, one thing is clear: AI and ML are here to stay, transforming the way we approach fitness and leading us into a healthier and more connected future.

Keepme is proud to be able to partner with gyms and fitness clubs who are committed to meeting members' adapting needs by embracing technology. If you are interested in learning how Keepme can help boost your sales and retention efforts using AI and smart automations, book your discovery call today.

Ready to explore what AI can do for your facility?

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