Technology helps people set goals, stay motivated in new year

By: Joshua Gordon | C&G Newspapers | Published January 10, 2018

 Ellie Braun, of Birmingham, works out Jan. 2 at the Beverly Hills Club. Technology in fitness, from wearable trackers to apps on phones, has made setting goals and staying motivated easier.

Ellie Braun, of Birmingham, works out Jan. 2 at the Beverly Hills Club. Technology in fitness, from wearable trackers to apps on phones, has made setting goals and staying motivated easier.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Stephen Merz, manager of American Cycle and Fitness in Grosse Pointe Woods, works out on a custom smart trainer at the store. Smart trainer cycles can track vital statistics of the rider and allow them to virtually cycle the terrain of different locations.

Stephen Merz, manager of American Cycle and Fitness in Grosse Pointe Woods, works out on a custom smart trainer at the store. Smart trainer cycles can track vital statistics of the rider and allow them to virtually cycle the terrain of different locations.

Photo provided by Stephen Merz

 Nicole Martin, the wellness director at the Wellness Training Institute in Sterling Heights, helps educate and inform clients on living a healthier lifestyle. A majority of the institute’s clients are over 55.

Nicole Martin, the wellness director at the Wellness Training Institute in Sterling Heights, helps educate and inform clients on living a healthier lifestyle. A majority of the institute’s clients are over 55.

Photo by Deb Jacques

METRO DETROIT — Getting in shape, losing weight or just hitting the gym more are common resolutions in the new year. 

But when the excitement of a fresh beginning wears off, it can be hard to stay motivated to stick to your goals.

The emergence of technology in fitness, especially wearable technology, has helped keep people focused on what they set out to do in the fitness world.

Step trackers have been around for a while, said Laura Yauck, manager of the Beverly Hills Club. And it was a good first step, but with devices that now track heart rates, count calories and encourage activity, technology has done even more for people of all fitness backgrounds, she said.

Combine the wearables with smartphone apps, and people can see almost in real time what kind of effect their workout is having.

“Everything is tracked throughout the whole day, and that can have a drastic change in your lifestyle,” Yauck said. “It puts everything in front of your face with what is going on all day long, and not just at the time of your workout.

“People have an interest in making big changes — not just how they are working out, but the whole day, with how much they are walking and what they are eating.”

The Beverly Hills Club is a 12,000-square-foot fitness center with everything from weights and cardio equipment to yoga and spin studios, tennis courts and a swimming pool. The club offers over 200 classes a week.

Like lots of fitness centers, Yauck said they see quite an uptick in new members in the new year. They also see members who have been signed up for a while but haven’t necessarily made use of their membership.

Fitbit and Apple are the big names in wearable technology, but companies such as Fossil, Google and Samsung are also making trackers and watches that can record vitals and workouts.

Activity information so readily available via tracking in an app has made it easier for the club’s trainers to work with members on what workout is right for them to get the results they are looking for, Yauck said.

“We now have the ability to talk to (members) and see how their day is going and help find something they are struggling with and make changes,” she said. “If you are working out and the trainers see it is not elevating your heart rate, they work with you. The data doesn’t lie.”

Nicole Martin, the wellness director at the Wellness Training Institute in Sterling Heights, said they also use wearable technology and apps to work with people who come into the institute. For Martin and her co-workers, that is typically someone who is 55 or older.

The Wellness Training Institute runs programs for people looking to prevent or reverse disease and get off of medications. It includes losing weight or working with people who have heart disease, acid reflux and other diseases.

The institute offers yoga classes, but Martin said much of what they do is educating the people they work with and coaching them to be healthier.

Martin said wearable technology helps keep the people they work with accountable and motivates them to be healthier.

“We meet them where they are at, and wearable technology shows progress for them instead of setting a goal and forgetting about it,” she said. “People have this constant reminder, and it helps with motivation, as it brings awareness to what you are or not doing during the day.”

At American Cycle and Fitness in Grosse Pointe Woods, manager Stephen Merz is using technology in the quest to get people moving and developing healthier habits.

With six locations in metro Detroit, American Cycle and Fitness offers a range of bicycles and biking equipment, and Merz said they also work with people on cycling analysis, and on using technology to track and improve their biking experience.

Wearable technology is only the tip of the iceberg, Merz said, as they use heart rate monitors and transmitters on the bike to provide a ton of data when a person’s ride is over.

Merz also works with smart trainers, stationary bikes that use technology to set goals and track calories burned. He said they provide a virtual component, so people feel like they are biking in London, for example.

“The smart trainers allow you to log in, set goals and compete against people across the world,” he said. “And you can log in to spin classes from around the world, and it really is becoming more mainstream.”

Merz said advanced technology in the fitness world creates a way for people to track their progress so they can see what they are doing and the effect it is having on their goals.

Another big advancement in the cycling community is electric bikes, he said, which provide an easier way for people to get into cycling.

“The reason some people don’t ride or exercise more is because it is hard,” Merz said. “E-bikes open the door for people who want to get out of their cars but not walk as much. You put in your 10 mph effort, and it amplifies it to 20 mph, and you get addicted to going fast.”

Yauck said she is a firm believer in tracking your fitness by how you feel, how your clothes fit and how your physicals are going. People don’t have to have wearable technology to be successful in reaching their goals, but she doesn’t see any negatives with technology becoming more integrated with fitness.

“These devices make people aware of what they are really doing,” she said. “I see people decide to walk somewhere instead of drive or not eat something because they are aware and tracking their health.”