Fitness Brands that Leverage Data to Deliver Personalized Experiences

Health and fitness brands are enabling customized experiences and tailored lifestyle plans using customer information like DNA or gym habits to help them reach their personal goals. Here are examples of 4 brands taking a unique approach to the fitness space:

U.K. genetic testing service FitnessGenes analyzes customers’ DNA and provides a genetically tailored workout and nutrition plan, with the optimal number of calories and macronutrient content for their unique genetic makeup. Consumers have easy access to their DNA results as well as workout and nutrition plans through the Member’s Area in the company’s website or app.

Danish startup AthGene helps people improve their lifestyles and optimize their diets and fitness routines based on their DNA test results. Users collect their DNA with a mouth swab, and then receive easy-to-understand, actionable insights about their unique genetic makeup, such as their muscle fiber composition and sensitivity to carbohydrates, allowing them to tailor their nutrition and workout plans to their body’s needs.


Equinox trialed a bot embedded into its mobile app that learns from a user’s activities, goals and preferences to recommend personalized workouts. The “Digital Coach” uses data from in-gym beacons to detect where gym-goers prefer to spend their time and subsequently nudge them towards specific activities. The service has successfully motivated members to check in 40% more than non-users during a six-month pilot program.


Health startup Thorne sells at-home health tests that let users analyze various aspects of their health, such as cortisol levels, thyroid function and heavy metal levels, to help them address specific concerns, such as fatigue or fertility. Users provide a saliva or blood sample and receive a personalized health plan along with their test results.

Why it’s hot: These are hyper-targeted consumer experiences that are almost expected across many industries now – especially health and wellness.


How Under Armour is linking fitness data with customer loyalty

Under Armour and MapMyFitness are working with sports equipment retailer Sports Authority to link workout activity with customer loyalty programs in a data play that is part of Under Armour’s efforts to become a technology company.

The companies are working together to create a new set of “challenges” on MapMyFitness, the workout-tracking app that works with phones, Jawbones, Garmins and Fitbits to track calories and workouts. Under Armour purchased MapMyFitness last year.

The 150 million people within the “Under Armour Connected Fitness” group will get a set of challenges (for example, “run 10 miles a week”), and if they complete it, they can win gift cards and points within “The League,” Sports Authority’s loyalty program.

Warren Kay, vp of advertising at Under Armour said that Sports Authority is looking for a way to invest in technology to strengthen their market position — and using Under Armour’s verified activity feed is a way to get data on those customers and marry it with the rewards program.

MapMyFitness challenges you.

Kay said Under Armour differentiates from competitors because it has opened its API and platforms to other brands and hardware manufacturers like Fitbit or Garmin — and lets its customer play across platforms — instead of creating its own hardware. Still, it requires a lot of resources, and a lot of money.

Under Armour, for example, bought nutrition- and workout-tracking leader MyFitnessPal earlier this year, plunking down $475 million for the company, and also put down $85 million for Endomondo, a social fitness network. Connected Fitness is the part of Under Armour that houses the technology to help its athletes and users: MyFitnessPal, Endomondo and MapMyFitness all live within Connected Fitness unit.

The payoff for Under Armour is partnerships like this one with Sports Authority. Active people that use fitness trackers are likely to buy apparel and footwear. And hopefully, they’ll buy yours.

Why It’s Hot

This is a really smart way for a retail brand to think smart about how to grow itself.  They are transforming the brand to own fitness in general- by providing the clothes people wear when working out along with the apps they need to track performance.  People could soon associate the brand or the apps they bought as more of a lifestyle choice than a simple tool or piece of clothing…which adds brand equity.

Equinox’s Gold Card Challenge

Luxury fitness provider Equinox debuted a Gold Card challenge to promote its gyms. The Gold Card membership is exclusive to 5 of its members, and they will have to look through “tough-to-reach spots that people will have to demonstrate their athletic prowess to reach.” Those who find the card will receive a yearlong membership, 24 personal training sessions, 12 massages, $1,000 in Equinox swag, $500 in juice and more.


The first challenge is for contestants to dive through a pond in Montauk.



Equinox Gold Card

Why It’s Hot: As a fitness provider, Equinox has created a Willy Wonka-like set of challenges that are specifically skewed to the athletic, which fit their overall brand campaign. On browsers and mobile devices, you can see the approximate locations of the cards and pursue them. They’ve also enlisted their celebrity clients like Neil Patrick Harris to participate in the challenges as well to create further buzz.

Wearable Device Implications for Rural Healthcare

Today, the most popular type of wearable health device is the fitness tracker, embraced by fitness enthusiasts, data geeks…primarily, the intersection of the two. However, wearable technologies have the potential to measure much more than steps, distance and calories; extending to glucose, blood pressure and brainwaves. The implications for healthcare are significant.


Physicians are already reporting that wearable technologies are helpful for patients managing obesity (the obvious), as well as diabetes, heart disease and other conditions. Wearables can also improve on-the-job safety by monitoring alertness, location and time/performance. In areas where access to physicians is limited, wearables are particularly important; helping the consumer or patient to take charge of her own health.

In this presentation, Wearable Medical Devices, implications for rural India, where there are fewer than 1 doctor for every 10,000 people, are explored. While wearables could help reduce dependency on these very few doctors, barriers to penetration include: price, positioning as a fitness vs. general health/wellness device and lack of marketing in local languages. By addressing these barriers, wearable technologies will gain access to huge untapped populations. One can even imagine a future where health insurance companies offer discounts to people who wear the devices, just as car insurance companies have done for drivers who have installed wireless devices to track when and where their car is on the road.

Why It’s Hot: Real-time feedback on health will greatly change consumers’ behavior; how they engage with health/condition-related content on the wearable, the web, et al., as well as how they engage with their caregivers/families and healthcare providers. In-person doctor visits may become less frequent, as wearables make patients more self-sufficient, as well as facilitate remote care/treatment of the patient by the doctor. Pharma marketing channels, such as in-office magazine wraps and television commercials, EMRs, wearable in-app ads, et al., increase/decrease in penetration and effectiveness.

Nike Vending Machine That Only Accepts NikeFuel As Payment

Nike unveiled a public vending machine at the entrance of the heavily trafficked Williamsburg bridge in New York City.  People can only access the goodies inside the machine by scanning a Nike Fuelband and using the accumulated NikeFuel points that can be obtained through the use of the Nike+ platform. The machine inventory consists of Nike merchandise in the form of socks, hats, t-shirts, and other Nike equipment.  It is unclear how long the machine will be at the location and if there are plans for a city-wide campaign featuring more machines.


Why It’s Hot:

Nike has taken a virtual, online only currency and made it useful in the real world.  This gives NikeFuel points more importance as well as creates a unique real-world experience that could previously only be accessed through online portals.

Alternate reality game…for real

Run an Empire is an alternate reality game that moves familiar video game-playing into real life, where players actually play the game outside, in real life, on real streets.  As Fast Company wrote, “You don’t have to literally run to run your empire, but the incentive for physical activity is baked into the game. You can walk around the block to claim it as yours–but anyone else can take it away from you by doing the same thing. To fortify your borders, you have to encircle your territory regularly, not just once.”

“Strategy games have traditionally challenged players to out-think and out-maneuver one another,” says Ben Barker, who co-created “Run an Empire” at PAN Studio in London. “What’s incredibly exciting for us is the potential to see this mechanic played out away from screens and keyboards, playing pieces and dice rolls-–where the game board is overlaid on the world around us.”

Players can’t cheat about what they do and fast they get there.  The game taps into a mobile phone’s accelerometer to measure gait.

Why It’s Hot

It takes virtual reality one step further and makes it part of real life.  It’s a new and physical way to play a video game.  And although not a health app, physical activity is baked into this game.  The player becomes the game and does the actions.


‘World’s Heaviest iPhone Case’ Turns Your Phone Into a Dumbbell For Some Reason

ToneStop that gym membership.   A new product billed as the “World’s Heaviest iPhone Case” will apparently turn your iPhone into a “weight loss device.” A British company, Desirable Body, created the ToneFone, a chunky iPhone 5 case that basically transforms your phone into a really light dumbbell. It comes in either 1 kilogram  (2.2 lbs) or 1.5kilograms (3.3 lbs) and is made from “100% British steel” coated with “soft, durable and grippy rubber.” Depending on which weight you choose, the ToneFone costs $38 or $42, respectively, and $11.50 for shipping to the US. Every time you pick up your phone, you are getting a workout.


Why It’s Hot

No time for a workout at the gym or just too tired? Go home, put on your sweats, call your friends or your mom and lift that phone for 20 reps. If I could add definition to my arms by just by talking and texting, why not give it a try. The case comes in white and fits the iPhone 5 and 5s.  Grey and gold versions will be arriving in June.  I’m sure the instructional video is also in the works. Stream it right from your phone to your TV (if you have Apple TV). People are picking up the ToneFone as it is currently out of stock and won’t be available until April.  This has to be the easiest (laziest) way to exercise and be social at the same time. Don’t forget to switch arms to get a better workout.