I still remember when a little German company called SRM came out with this ghetto looking crankset that measured power on a bicycle. It was so novel even some expert physiologists wondered what you’d do with the data. Back then heart rate, cadence and speed were considered the benchmarks of training data and even the measurement of those was not widely adopted, never mind the training methods and protocols to get the most out of them. Fast forward a couple of decades, and no serious cyclist would consider training without power. Even the spin bikes at my local YMCA feature a power meter (calibration questions aside), and we are working on programs to utilize these data more comprehensively so that even casual riders can maximize their workout value and track their progress. Mainstream companies like Garmin and Polar have joined and been driving forces in the the ecosystem around cycling power measurement.
Of course bicycles lend themselves to the instrumentation that provide power, but other sports not so much. Enter Stryd. They have a campaign on Kickstarter to fund a power meter for runners. This could be huge – the ability to quantify not the runner’s speed or exertion, but the actual rate of work output – accounting for gradient, wind, etc. Given that I spend more time running than cycling these days, I just might have to get in on the campaign and be an early adopter.
More broadly I think this points to the ongoing desire to quantify health & fitness activities, and just like with cycling it will spawn a new generation of data applications and experts to make sense of it all. The forward thinking fitness businesses will be ready to capitalize on this when it goes mainstream.
You can learn more at their official website.
If you pay any attention at all to the tech world you’ve surely stumbled across the term “internet of things” (IoT) many times, and perhaps wondered what the heck it means. I define it this way: it’s the vision of all physical objects as devices that have some kind of network presence, whether as input devices (say a temperature monitor on a refrigerator, or a security video camera accessible on your iPhone), or as input/output devices (Nest is a great example – it sends you data over the internet, and you can control it remotely). Those of us who have been into “wearables” since before they were called wearables (you know, that Polar HRM we were using back in the mid-90’s) have been particularly interested in how these locally monitored sensors can eventually be web enabled, and how those data deliver value via web services to various ecosystem partners. For example – your HRM is valuable to you as you regulate your workout, but it can also be of value to your coach, thousands of miles away, who can use the data to guide your training. I believe this whole arena presents great opportunities for savvy SMB owners in the health and fitness arena and will be exploring this theme over time. In the meantime, this article from Laurie McCabe covers a few angles on IoT for the SMB. Laurie covers a lot of technology themes around the SMB, her content is worth spending some time on.
Just a short post from the road, this week I’m in southern California for a little R&R and also a client meeting in my old grad-school stomping grounds, Orange County. I wanted to quickly share a link to a site I found the other day, and it’s a good resource – Fit Business Insider. You can find them here. They seem to focus mostly on the sales & marketing side of running a fitness focused SMB but they have a nice variety of resources, including what looks like some good content on training and exercise (e.g., Eric Cressey was one guest contributor I saw on the blog). So many trainers and health/fitness experts sell themselves short and fail to capitalize on their skills – these guys & gals are helping to fix that. Give their site a look next time your surfing around.
I can imagine a whole collection of ways that Microsoft’s HoloLens could impact the fitness business. I’ve long been intrigued by ways for the cloud to help experts scale their audience and earnings, but bridging the digital-physical world divide is a real challenge in some niches. When doing robotics research in grad school I got to experiment with virtual reality glasses to facilitate 3D mechanism design, and when Facebook bought Oculus Rift the product category got a boost in buzz, but it looks like Microsoft’s version takes things to a whole different level with the ability to interact through the web.
Welcome to BFT – Business, Fitness, Technology. The three things I’m most passionate about and the subject of this blog. I hope you find it useful.