CIMSPA Explores Tech’s Impact on the Physical Activity Sector

A blog post by James Carr, Marketing and Communications Assistant at CIMSPA

In anticipation of Phil Carr’s (CEO of My PT Hub) session at the CIMSPA and Quest NBS Conference 2020, we explore one of the sector’s hottest topics – technology – and the impact it is having on sport and physical activity sector.
With just three months until the CIMSPA and Quest 2020 Conference the anticipation is building higher each week. The programme is full of sector shapers and inspirational speakers, including Tim Hollingsworth (CEO of Sport England), Dave Thomson (Behaviour Change Expert), Marc Woods (ex-Paralympian and CIMSPA Chair) and many more.

One of the most exciting additions to the conference is the ‘Business of fitness’ content stream which is dedicated to fitness practitioners. One of these sessions will be delivered by the entrepreneurial Phil Carr, CEO of My PT Hub. Phil’s session will explore how the new My PT Hub App is empowering Personal Trainers with tools to raise their profile, enhance their reputation and drive exposure to new clients.

To help set the scene, CIMSPA wants to explore the impact technology is having on the sport and physical activity sector and the new opportunities it has created for our workforce.

The impact of technology on our society

Everywhere you look technology is rapidly developing and shaping our lifestyles. From welcoming Smart Speakers into our homes to cloud technology in the workplace to smartphones and wearable tech in our pockets or on our wrists. Ten years ago, our technological use may have felt like it belonged in a hazy dream. Today, according to Statista, approximately 93% of adults aged between 16 – 54 own a smartphone. Another study found 37.6% of millennials in the UK own a smartwatch or health-tracking computing device.

Undeniably the advancement of technology has also impacted manual and customer service roles. The benefits of automation and technology for larger corporations means lower labour costs and reduced human errors. However, just like the warehouse operators and cashiers, when automation replaces one manual role a host of new roles also emerge.

Our sector should not see the rise of tech as a threat but as one of opportunity

For the end-user, the benefits of new technology are abundantly clear. We have greater accessibility to more personalised data and greater connectivity to inform and entertain us – all at the touch of our fingers. As a result, we can access a huge amount of information, from the steps we take each day, to calories consumed, to the total hours of deep sleep we had. Accessing this information is greatly beneficial and convenient in helping us to achieve our fitness, health and wellbeing goals, especially amongst the backdrop of our hectic lifestyles.

The impact technology is having on the sport and physical activity workforce

For those at the frontline of the customer service roles, such as fitness practitioners, being wary of new technology is understandable. Especially after seeing how it has impacted other manual jobs.

Our workforce is different. We are highly passionate, adaptable and most importantly highly skilled and knowledgeable. Our sector is built upon people and this is being recognised as Sport England’s prioritising people in their latest strategy, ‘Towards an Active Nation’. Never has our workforce been so highly recognised for our ability to help the nation in time of crisis. We have been appointed to combat the pandemic of inactivity and its impact on illness, mental health and productivity. Dr Edward Howley and Dr Dixie Thompson in the Fitness Professional’s Handbook (2012) suggest:

“Fitness professionals are at the cutting edge of health in much the same way the scientists discovering vaccines for major diseases were at the turn of the 20th century”.
The sport and physical activity sector is being recognised for its ability to contribute to public health. We are cementing our sector as recognised, respected and regulated. To continue this development we must ensure that we adapt to the environment around us including adapting to technology.

The good news for our sector

Already our sector’s workforce has adapted. Technology has been embraced and we are adding it to our arsenal of tools. From introducing simple WhatsApp–groups for group classes, apps providing nutritional plans, digital forum communities, we refuse to watch the world go by. More importantly, our use of technology is being used to enhance our customer offering and better our customer service – instead of just replacing it. Clients want to maximise face-to-face time with personal trainers, fitness and class instructors, instead of being caught up scheduling sessions or registering attendance.

Gone are the days where a PT needs to carry a folder for his clients’ programme, a diary, and a phone. Technology has made it possible to consolidate this onto one handy device, in one handy app. According to American Express, consumers are willing to spend 17% more on a company that has outstanding customer service. Maximising engagement and the customer experience not only results in greater client retention (and results!) but also boosts our sector’s economic contribution.

So how does the sport and physical activity sector continue this success?

To ensure we remain present and relevant, we must find ways to innovate and tailor our services to match the needs and expectations of our clients. Identifying new opportunities and innovating new solutions will help our sector to continue to grow and achieve this. A fantastic example of this is My PT Hub. The app enables personal trainers, coaches and gym owners to manage their clients by creating customisable training and nutrition programmes, whilst tracking their progress and achievements.

Still want to learn more?

As well as delivering one of the conference’s ‘Business of fitness” sessions My PT Hub will have an exhibition stand to introduce the software platform to delegates.