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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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Technology: Body scanners – shaping the future?

Mirrors and scales can be dispiriting for those starting a fitness regime. But with body scanning offering a realistic picture of how the body changes with exercise, Kath Hudson investigates if this technology could be a key retention tool

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 8
Styku scanner users are given a 360 degree view
Styku scanner users are given a 360 degree view
For those trying to lose weight, the results are uplifting, as they show how muscle mass has improved. It keeps members inspired by seeing positives straight away - Glenn Gajeski, Bode Central

Most people take out a gym membership full of enthusiasm and good intentions. However, those trying to slim down or bulk up can quickly lose heart and stop going to the gym if the scales fail to move noticeably after a few workouts.

As such, body composition scanning could be a game changer for gym-goers and owners – improving both customer results and retention. These scanners, which are now both affordable for clubs and easy to use, give a true 360 degree, 3D visual of the body, inside and out. They show how hydration levels affect weight and when fat is giving way to muscle, even if the mirrors and scales aren’t reflecting this yet – providing the type of motivation people need to keep coming back to the gym.

“Most people start by saying they want to lose weight, when they really mean they want to lose body fat, so to train really hard for three months and maintain a similar weight can be very demotivating,” says boditrax co-founder, Nick Stillman. “Body composition scanning allows operators to not only prove the efficacy of their advice and facilities, but also allows members to see that real change is happening and that they are achieving their goals – you just can’t see that level of detail on the scales or in the mirror.”

US health club, Bode Central, is an early adopter of the technology, investing in an Accuniq analyser in order to differentiate itself. “Right away the members loved it as they received information that was specific and relevant to them, showing levels of fat, muscle and water,” says treasurer, Glenn Gajeski. “For those trying to lose weight, the results are uplifting, as they show how muscle mass has improved. It keeps members inspired by seeing positives straight away.”

The information provided by the scanners also allows PTs and instructors to be more precise in their programming, which further improves results and therefore motivation. It also creates a natural way for instructors and PTs to keep checking in with members.

The West Wood Club in Dublin is in the early stages of implementing a Styku unit into its programmes. Gym manager Nick Whiteway says the members love it. “We decided to purchase a scanner to make our assessments as accurate and consistent as possible. Working in conjunction with our personal trainers’ knowledge, skills and sensitivity, it offers a timescale on losing a chosen amount of body fat.”

MARKETING HOOK
It’s still early days for this technology, so investing in a scanner could act as a marketing hook, making your club stand out from the crowd. Offering scans to prospects looking around the club, or to people at an open day, could be the clincher for a new membership. By showing countless circumference measurements, profiles, silhouettes and cross sections of the body, the scans often serve as a call to action.

They can be used either as a secondary revenue stream, or the service can be included in a premium membership, which means most clubs are seeing a swift return on investment. Owner of 3-1-5 Health Club in Lancaster, Sean Thornton, says the club saw a return on investment just 12 weeks after buying a Styku scanner. “We're using it as a gateway tool for every new member who joins, as a way to increase uptake for our body transformation programmes,” he says.

“It has enabled us to differentiate our business from other operators and champion the knowledge and expertise of our exercise professionals. It has proved to be a fast, effective and unobtrusive way of collecting consistent and valuable data, which is tracked over four to 12 weeks.”

Those clubs using scanners report that they are very popular among members. After trialling boditrax scanners in eight clubs in September 2015, David Lloyd Leisure now has more than 100 monitors across its UK and European estate, and it includes the service as a standard part of member programmes.

“Due to the popularity among members and trainers, a decision was made very quickly to roll out boditrax to all of our clubs during 2016,” says Michelle Dand, group health and fitness manager at David Lloyd Leisure. “Users love the fact they can get 14 different body statistics within just 30 seconds, which can then be tracked and reviewed either immediately on the monitor, online via our members’ area or via our David Lloyd boditrax app, with goal setting and activity tracking also available.”

Each scanner varies slightly in how it works, but all are non-invasive, don’t need the user to undress, and take less than a minute to capture the image. The Accuniq scanner, for example, involves standing barefoot on some scales and holding two handsets.

Bodygee takes a completely different approach, as it doesn’t sell the hardware, but utilises an iPad RGB camera to create the photo-realistic surface of the body. It takes approximately 30 seconds to walk around the individual to capture the image and then the software analyses the recorded information, and makes it available to the user via a website or an app.

Owner of ROPE Strength & Athletic in Bern, Switzerland, Fabian Seiler, says that integrating the Bodygee 3d body tracking solution into the health club’s eight week training programme has allowed him to create a win-win situation: “We've been able to increase the price of the programme and make each customer more profitable, at the same time as giving them a better service. Members have been delighted with their body transformations.”

HEALTHCARE APPLICATION
Going forward, bodyscanning may be adopted by mainstream health care providers, as they can be used to identify a person’s risk of obesity-related diseases.

A study by the University of California suggests that body composition analysis could have a place in mainstream healthcare, as body composition measurements, such as waist circumference and visceral fat, are better predictors of obesity-related diseases and mortality than BMI.

Indeed, one local authority client of boditrax is already set to receive a gold standard accreditation from the World Health Organization for using their body scanner to track and evidence results in its large-scale obesity management programme.

THE COSTS

The Accuniq range

The Accuniq range, set to be launched this month into the UK, by Derwent Healthcare, starts at just under £5000, plus VAT, rising to just over £10,000 plus VAT. As the equipment is designed to be maintenance free, there are no service costs.

The Accuniq range
The Accuniq range

Bodyge

Bodygee is an affordable solution, as it doesn’t sell hardware. The 3d sensor for the iPad costs €490 (£444) and the package starts at €79 (£72) per month, with the price depending on the club size, number of features and number of 3d scans and analyses per month.

Bodyge
Bodyge

Styku

Styku, by React Fitness, costs £10,500 + VAT for all the hardware (turntable, 3D camera and tower, laptop computer), software package, pre-installed permanent licence, unlimited free software updates, warranty, delivery, training and on-going support. There are no ongoing subscription or licence fees.

Styku
Styku

Boditrax

Boditrax packages start at £2,995, rising to £14,995, which includes a two year unlimited use licence, software upgrades, integrations, support, service and secure hosting. After the initial period it is then £3.25 per day (or less with an enterprise licence) for the same package. Lease options are also available from £245pcm.

Boditrax
Boditrax
Body scanners can be used as a valuable secondary revenue stream, or included in a premium membership
Body scanners can be used as a valuable secondary revenue stream, or included in a premium membership
Many clubs report seeing a swift ROI from their scanner
Many clubs report seeing a swift ROI from their scanner
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