Last Christmas, Fitbit topped Apple's app chart as wearable tech finally hit the mainstream. Suddenly, we found ourselves fighting our way up a leaderboard containing family members, friends and colleagues. Taking 10,000 steps a day became everyone's target. Shiny, colorful bands were the topic of conversation in meeting rooms across the world.

Three months after counting our steps, many are realizing that technology could play a much bigger part in improving our fitness. This could be one of the reasons why the Orangetheory Fitness franchise has been growing rapidly under the radar.

Last year,  Gold's Gym celebrated its 50th anniversary with around 541 clubs. Our sharing economy is expected to catapult Orangetheory Fitness to 500 to 550 locations by the end of the year. The use of technology to create scientific heart rate-based workouts is proving to be a real game-changer for the line of gyms.

Once again, we're witnessing the growth of a tech-based idea that develops into a movement and spreads around the world organically.

Orangetheory's monitor records heart rate, calories burned, and percentage of effort. But its users spend more time monitoring their interval training than how many steps they're taking each day. The group classes are described on the company's site as "individualized workouts in a group setting." Maybe this is another reason the concept is growing quickly in the U.S. and beyond.

The combination of technology, science, and innovation to create a 60-minute, five zone, heart-rate-monitored interval training program is what I find most interesting. The concept feels like it has taken what we have learned from the wearable bands and raised the bar. 

Users seem to be embracing the use of technology to monitor heart rate and calorie burn. But it's the email summary delivered after the workout that offers the additional motivation required to stay on the right track. These tangible results help the user feel like he or she is actually making progress. And the so-called Orange Effect promises more energy, visible toning, and extra calorie burn for up to 36 hours post-workout. 

Technology is often blamed for the decline in our self-awareness--we spend more time looking at a screen than at each other. I believe the success or Orangetheory illustrates how we are actually more aware of our bodies, our lifestyle, and how it affects our health than ever before.

Until only recently, access to personal data such as our heart rate was learned only by visiting a medical professional. It appears we are just beginning to understand the benefits of using wearable technology as a monitoring tool to live a healthier life.

Fitness tracking is evolving beyond counting steps. The next 18 months should prove fascinating while we continue to learn about how we can tweak and improve our lifestyle choices. 

There are a wide range of technology based tools at our disposal. Any business that wants to join the crowded wearable tech marketplace will probably find that niching down into less crowded waters holds the keys to success.

Check out my interview with David Long, the CEO and co-founder of Orangetheory Fitness. David talks in detail about his journey along with how technology, science, and innovation can help us lead a healthier lifestyle.

Published on: Mar 29, 2016
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