Why Humanology - Not Technology Alone - Will Become Increasingly Important In The Fitness Business

By: Kelly Card

Perhaps you’ve heard the news about Facebook. A recent June 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 42 percent of Facebook users have stepped back from daily activity and engagement. This stands in sharp contrast to a March 2018 Pew survey which showed 74 percent of users visited their Facebook daily with 51 percent of them going to the site multiple times of the day.

Interestingly, the same June 2018 Pew survey found that 26 percent actually deleted their Facebook app from their phones. The bottom line is this: A significant minority or even a majority of Facebook users have, to some extent, disengaged from the Facebook platform in the past year.

My how things have changed. Who would have imagined that the greatest social platform of a few years ago would be experiencing such a decline on so many levels? There seems to be a consumer backlash regarding technologies for a host of reasons including increasing research supporting the idea that technologies are harmful to human health. The report, The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World, confirms this dynamic in many ways, represented by this among many other quotes and facts:

“A plurality of experts say digital life will continue to expand people’s boundaries and opportunities in the coming decade and that the world to come will produce more help than harm in people’s lives. Still, nearly a third think that digital life will be mostly harmful to people’s health, mental fitness, and happiness. Most say there are solutions.”

The market is responding. Apple has unveiled digital wellbeing tools to help people reduce the time they spend glued to their screens. Screen Time offers iPhone and iPad users a dashboard highlighting how much time they have spent using which apps, how many notifications they receive, how often they pick up their device and how their usage patterns compare to the average. The app also lets users set daily time limits for individual apps, and a notification will be shown when the time limit is about to expire. Parents can now access their children’s activity reports from their own devices to understand and manage their browsing habits.

So what does this mean for fitness brands?

I’ve written quite a bit on technology and its positive impact on the fitness, health club, and studio gym industry with posts like Great User Interfaces : What They Mean And Require For Health Club, Gym, and Boutique Operators and/or Analytics : The Essentials For Health Clubs, Gyms, And Fitness Studios . Sure I am an advocate of technology as a significant tool in innovation that can enhance business performance and member experience. Increasingly, however, we need to realize the relevance and importance of technology in context; after all it is not about technology for the sake of technology. Success and innovation is about how we can use tools including technology to create more meaningful and authentic experiences for people. This is where “humanology” comes in, because in the end this term and focus will be more important than the technology story as Facebook’s statistics reflect.

Humanology is the science of understanding human nature. Understanding human nature and what causes human beings to feel and respond the way we do is much more important than technology itself and its business implications are important. The central theory of Humanology explains the motivation behind every decision and behavior of every human being in the past, present and future. People understand this in their bones, and often they feel humanology as “authenticity”. In fact, authenticity has become vital, not only to brand storytelling, but in every part of the customer experience – from advertising to email, and everything in between. Unfortunately for most of today’s brands, authenticity is something consumers feel is lacking. That is because many brands have forgotten that being focused on being human, “humanology”, is the MOST important aspect of serving customers. Technology is but a tool in that endeavor and left unchecked and without context can create a lot of unforeseen challenges.

Do you want your members to identify your fitness business as understanding them and being authentic and human-oriented? You should. The 2017 Consumer Content Survey Report had these findings :

  • 57% of respondents indicated that less than half of brand-created content resonates as authentic;
  • People are not easily fooled - 70% of the time, consumers are able to distinguish between consumer-created content and brand-created content; and
  • The survey revealed that 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support

In the gym, health club, and fitness studio business we serve human beings. I love Paul Schaller’s recent posts on this subject including Why The Customer Always Matters Most. Paul is right: and technology should be an invisible enhancer of authenticity and great service and experiences. Humanology as a theme should be at the forefront of innovation in our industry space and driven by the experience and feelings we provide and evoke in our members, not for the sake of the technology alone. That is why “Humanology” will rule as the key driver while “Technology” should be its dutiful servant.

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About the Author:

Kelly Card is the Senior Vice President of Partner Relations at ABC Financial. Check out her Fitness Industry Innovation Podcast where she interviews leaders from across the health, fitness, and wellbeing landscape. Kelly serves on the Board of Directors of the Fitness Industry Technology Council and is the Co-Founder of Industry FIT. She has over twenty years of experience in health club, gym, and fitness operations and co-founded and was President of Club-Apps, which was acquired by Netpulse in 2014. You can reach her kelly.Card@abcfinancial.com and follow @theKellyCard on Facebook & Twitter. Connect with and follow @IndustryFit for the latest in fitness trends and technology as well.