How Digital Fragmentation Impacts the Client Experience

It is often said that modern technology leads to fragmentation. After all, the internet is the perfect segmentation device. We have been able to form pocket communities of like-minded people, only discussing the things we like and avoiding contrasting experiences. Our attention span has fragmented too. We are bombarded with distractions and flutter from one page to another in a matter of seconds.

On the other hand, the online world is one of connectedness. The segmented communities we have formed are global ones. We are constantly in touch with each other via social media, message boards, email, and chat. Technology not only connects our media devices to the internet: our electronics, our entire homes, even our bodies are connected.

This paradox of technology has resulted in a quick-paced and exciting world, where adapting is the key to survival.


Changed Consumer Expectations

It's fair to say that the online experience has changed our expectations. Three things that we have come to expect as a result of living in a digital world are more choice, more contact, and more personalization. This affects the way professionals need to think about their business, their services, and their client experience.

Consumers Want More Choice

Our online minds want to move from one thing to the other, to pick what we like and ignore what we don't. Online shopping experiences are already tailored to this expectation of choice and flexibility: buy what you need, pay how you want. The offline world needs to follow, including the fitness industry. The classic membership model does not align anymore with consumer demand. Think unbundling, "pick & mix" memberships, variable combinations of online and face-to-face coaching, and so on.

Consumers Want More Contact

Mass communication is passé. The day of businesses flat-out telling consumers what to buy is over. In the era of social media, "conversation" is the word of the day. The art of persuasion has changed: businesses need to engage and entertain their audience, before informing and persuading them. This means you need to be tech-savvy, and have a constant ear to the ground for the fast-paced developments in online communication.

This also means digital omnipresence: you need to be there whenever consumers want to reach you. Social media pages and contact pages are a good start, but don't forget that integrating mobile apps and other communication tools into your business offer more flexibility while also offering more control over the client experience.

Consumers Want More Personalization

In a way, the anonymous internet has become an annoyance. People don't generally like to feel anonymous. We all want to feel like we matter. That means people not only want to find information where they expect to find it. Services also need to be tailored to the individual.

The key to this level of personalization is data. There are immense amounts of data generated by smart devices like phones and wearables, but also by on-premises tech such as access control and scheduling software. All this data can be leveraged to provide highly personalized services by fitness businesses: personalized workout and nutrition plans, on-demand class booking, tailored marketing offers, timely motivational messages, etc.

Improving the Client Experience with Technology

Technological developments have resulted in societal changes, which impact consumer demand. In turn, this forces fitness businesses to take a critical look at the entire customer journey. There are three key takeaways.

Firstly, consumers expect flexibility and choice. Instead of having your clients adapt to your services, adapt your services to their needs and wishes.

Secondly, consumers expect to be engaged in conversation. There is a desire for contact - but on their own terms. Social media, mobile apps, and other communication tools need to be considered. Note that there is no winning formula. The success of a business depends on the particularities of their clients' needs.

Finally, consumers expect a personal experience. After mass media, the last thing they want is to be treated like they are anonymous, or worse, a wallet with legs. The key is leveraging the huge amount of data from the various tech and software tools in use to offer a personalized client experience.

Pieter Verschuren is a tech enthusiast and Communications Officer at

GIVE Fitness: You Get Fit - We Give Back

Our guest blogger is one of our newest FIT-C members, Josh Donovan.  He graciously agreed to share about the unique model at GIVE Fitness Health Club.  

GIVE Fitness took the first step toward accomplishing their vision to “transform the fitness industry” when their first facility opened in March of 2014. Commonly referred to as “GIVE” by members, the gym operates under the umbrella of its parent company: Working To GIVE. Matthew Holguin started Working to GIVE when completing his MBA at Azusa Pacific University in 2005. It was his intention to create a company that was purpose driven rather than profit driven. As a result, the GIVE model pre-allocates all profits for the various businesses that currently operate under the Working to GIVE umbrella. Working To GIVE welcomed Josh Donovan in 2013 as Chief Operating officer of the Fitness Division and together, he and Matthew formed GIVE Fitness Health Club.

 Josh Donovan and Matthew Holguin

Josh Donovan and Matthew Holguin

            Working To Give had not previously been involved in the fitness industry. Josh brought with him over 10 years of fitness experience and a unique outlook on the industry:
“I was really wanting to change the way that fitness was being presented and sold, I wanted to give people something that they could truly be a part of and care about. When I met Matt, it seemed to be the perfect blend of my skills and talents with something much bigger and meaningful.” GIVE Fitness established their vision to “Transform the fitness industry by becoming pillars in the communities in which we conduct business. We will do this by generously donating 50% of our profits to programs that strengthen personal character, create value in people and provide opportunities for personal growth.” In order to accomplish that though, it first meant creating and operating a profitable health club.

            With an intimate understanding of how today’s consumers interact with fitness, Josh felt he know how to capitalize on that customer behavior to streamline operations and limit unnecessary expenses. “We have to meet people where they are: I welcome the integration of technology, am always looking toward the future and strive to remain flexible in an ever-changing market.” GIVE Fitness vowed to not “sell” fitness by allowing their prospects and members to have control of the process. All new member sign-ups are completed through the GIVE Fitness website and monthly Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) is the only form of payment accepted. They do not have a membership sales or service team, they do not charge enrollment fees and do not utilize monthly specials. Josh Donovan, now President and Co-Founder of GIVE Fitness, shares, “We are very transparent: Our prices are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And they are all available to view on our site. If you call to ask us how much a membership is, we tell you…without any kind of runaround.” He went on to explain that because employees do not earn commission, they have the opportunity to focus on building and fostering relationships.  “That helps us create the type of culture that we desire and feel our customers/members do as well.” After joining, members are encouraged to download the GIVE Fitness mobile app provided by Netpulse. The app is used to engage members through contests or push notifications, they are able to post and track workouts and many members use their mobile phone/app to check into the facility. From there, Josh says, “It is also very important that every prospect or member understands our GIVE model and message. ‘You Get Fit. We Give Back®.’ We want them understand they are a part of something bigger than just a gym.”

            Now in their third year serving 3,200 members within their 15,000 sq. ft. facility, GIVE has become a pillar in their community of Atascadero, Ca. “We’ve been able to make sizeable donations to organizations like our local homeless shelter, Lighthouse: a non-profit dedicated to eradicating teen drug addiction, and a playground in the works specifically designed for children with special needs.” Beyond donations though, GIVE Fitness makes it a part of their everyday practice to be a part of their community and to find opportunities to GIVE. Often times, special programs will be directly tied to an aspect of giving. Their “Pound for Pound Weight Loss Contest™” yields one pound of food donated locally for every pound of weight lost by all participants. In October, GIVE supports Breast Cancer Awareness by donating 50% of all new member card fees to local women currently in the fight. They have offered self-defense classes that raised money to be donated toward providing services for battered women. Their Thanksgiving Day workout raises money to provide Christmas gifts for underprivileged children. Once a month, GIVE Fitness offers Service Saturday: an opportunity for members and staff to serve the community together in a tangible way. Donovan says, “We are a purpose-driven company, so we strive to attach a specific purpose to most things that we do inside or outside of the gym.”

            In October of last year, GIVE Fitness was the featured cover story for Club Business International (CBI). Article can be found here: shares, “One of our biggest goals in doing business is ‘to inspire others to do the same’ so we were extremely humbled and grateful to have IHRSA share our story.” As a result of that exposure, other gym owners began to reach out to GIVE Fitness with interest in the giving concept. Josh explained that it seemed other owners and operators wanted to be able to give, but struggled with how and the execution. In an attempt to meet that interest and potential need, GIVE Fitness has established the GIVE Alliance. “We want to provide a platform for others to join us in transforming the industry by being purpose-driven.” The GIVE Alliance allows others to adopt and utilize “You Get Fit. We Give Back®” as well as some other specific items and programs that help bring GIVING to the forefront of the business. Josh says, “The GIVE Alliance is new and it’s early, but is allowing me to have conversations with other owners and operators about truly changing the way we approach business to engage our members and communities. I think ‘You Get Fit. We Give Back®’ should be our industry’s tagline.”

            Technology is a major factor when it comes to the operations of GIVE Fitness and ultimately, plays a big role in allowing them to give. Josh said his decision to join the Fitness Industry Technology Council was an easy one. He is looking forward to the opportunity to work with other industry professionals to continually improve the user experience and to help shape what the future of fitness looks like.

We welcome Josh as a valued member of the Fitness Industry Technology Council!  


Join FIT-C at IHRSA 2015, for enlightening topics,  enthusiastic collaboration and a chance to meet the individuals and businesses blazing the trail in fitness and technology.   


MARCH 12TH - 1:30PM 

MARCH 13TH - 1:30PM

We look forward to seeing you all there!