The Flip-Side of Fitness Apps


Interesting.  This explains a lot —  and it comes with a dose of REALITY!

Despite all the hype and momentum surrounding fitness apps, wearables and other fitness technology, they’re NOT for everybody.

Here’s the bottom line:  They’re absolutely awesome for some folks and completely useless for others.

We recently supplied a major consumer market research organization with some Daily Journals for a project regarding fitness app usage.  They agreed to share some of the “topline” information with me and gave me permission to release some of the revelations.

So, here’s some info that almost no one knows… except YOU.  At least for now —  since this study isn’t published yet.

What I’m allowed to share with you is who uses fitness apps and who doesn’t — and why.

They Love ‘Em

Fitness apps are popular among people who are already “reasonably” fit and already include exercise as part of their lifestyles.  This segment is very interested in measuring performance.

They are interested in metrics and tracking progress.   They are disciplined (no need for supervision) and tend to use their preferred apps “religiously.”

You might visualize this segment as the CrossFit member, the Gym Rat or active lifestyle enthusiast.

They Don’t

However, among de-conditioned populations attempting to change lifestyle habits, fitness apps are usually abandoned within a few weeks.  They view them as a nuisance and too difficult to remember or maintain

This population (in all age groups) almost always REQUIRES supervision and motivation since they view exercise as a “necessary evil” and not something they willingly want to do.

For this group, performance is NOT important.  Instead, the primary issue for this segment is BEHAVIOR.

But, this is where it gets a little confusing.  This same group, that thinks apps are a nuisance, gets much better results when mandated to use a hand-written journal to track all kinds of activities including exercise, nutrition, hours of sleep, stress levels, emotions, daily affirmations and other (non-exercise) lifestyle activities.

In other words, when “written journaling” is a core, or central part of the program, this segment increases adherence thus improving results and program completion.

What’s it Mean?

So, when it’s all boiled down, it translates to this:

  • Tracking Performance – Use a Fitness App
  • Changing Behavior – Use a Written Journal

For health and fitness professionals it’s simply a matter of what type of clients you have and what you are trying to accomplish.  And, of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, it’s pretty simple.

My guess, is that you’ll probably end up using both.

This Answered ALL of My Questions… and Maybe a Few For You, Too!

For a few years now, I’ve been wondering why our Daily Journal sales have not suffered from the onslaught of technology. In fact, our Daily Journal Sales are up and continue to be our best-selling product.

  • So I figured it was the branding since we have so many smart marketers using our products.
  • Then, I thought maybe it’s because most of our fitness partners have figured out that many of the apps are highly inaccurate with caloric intake calculations as well as energy expenditure.
  • Or, that maybe the distraction factor during sessions with text messages, phone calls and pop-up ads all vying for the attention of the client.
  • Or, worse yet, that many of the apps are actually competing to get your clients with pop-up ad messaging like, “For the cost of one personal trainer session, you could purchase a whole year of online training… “

But, as it turns out, it’s none of that stuff.  It’s simply a matter of what works best and for who?  Funny how there’s such an equilibrium in all things regardless of hype and momentum.  After the dust settles, everything just seems to fall in place.  Almost “Zen-like.”

The other thing I’ve noticed is the number of trainers who are evolving toward more holistic training protocol.  This requires more than what the typical fitness app offers.  And, the mind-body connection of the hand-written journal is a better facilitator for such programs.


Why I Pay Attention to Consumer Research

Credible marketing research conducted by unbiased organizations is important for hundreds of reasons, but, here are just four big ones for us…

  • Credible research removes all the hype
  • Credible research removes all emotion
  • Credible research can be duplicated
  • Credible research has no vested interest in the results

The reason this is so important is because ultimately the market is going to dictate its likes and dislikes, its approval or disapproval and ultimately, success or failure.  Just as this particular project seems to be proving.

Here’s How This Research Was Conducted

Credible research studies are typically conducted in two parts: qualitative and quantitative.

Focus Groups: (qualitative) are small groups of 8-12 people.  It is facilitated by a trained moderator who asks questions of the group to help researchers define and refine the actual questions they want to test among a larger group.  And, not just the questions but how to ask the questions so as not to “lead” the respondents.

In-Person and Phone Surveys: (quantitative) Once the focus groups are completed, new survey questionnaires are developed based on the focus group results.  The surveys are then conducted via telephone interviews and in-person at specific locations by trained, professional interviewers.

There’s much more to it, but I don’t want to get bogged down with the details.  It’s the results that are so interesting.