When I think of the term ‘innovation’, I usually think of something that’s more advanced, something that provides me with a different experience than what was previously available.
It may look different, accomplish a slightly different outcome or stimulate a different emotional or mental response when I use it. Perhaps it’s a camera with a new type of filter or lens, or maybe it’s a mobile phone with a new operating system or increased space for file storage. Or, what about a waterproof tablet?
However, these items themselves are nothing new – the technology or functionality may be novel, but not the object itself.
This is evolutionary innovation, a continuous and gradual innovation that creates a new market and value network, eventually disrupting an existing market and value network, thus displacing established leading businesses or brands.
Applying that to the fitness industry, I think of the 24-hour gym market. Gyms are not new of course, but gyms that are accessible 24 hours a day is a growing trend. Or, with boutique gyms, the shift here is to a more specialised facility with a unique, maybe more personal experience.
Another example of evolutionary innovation could be education, or more specifically the way in which it is delivered – through online channels, either in part or in full. Evolving technology has made possible this gradual (and inevitable) innovation. Such is the disruption to established norms that course providers who do not keep up with changing technology and shifting consumer demands may be left behind, as the customers of ‘today’ require and are coming to expect flexible options to suit their lifestyle.
Evolutionary innovation focuses on orientation towards today’s customers.
Revolutionary innovation is different. It is radical and discontinuous leaps and bounds, and asks questions no one else has thought of. This type of innovation sparks new-to-the-world opportunities and creates new business potential. Revolutionary innovation is closely connected with high uncertainty as it addresses a future that does not exist yet, but will emerge through the innovation itself – companies that create revolutionary products or technologies take on the greatest risk for potentially the greatest rewards because they create new markets.
Revolutionary innovation focuses on orientation of tomorrow’s customers.
Is one better than the other? Not at all. We actually need both as part of a ‘one thing leads to another’ pattern. A revolutionary innovation takes its place and plays its role within an industry or community. Early adopters embrace the new innovation and put it through its paces. Before long, a new version appears on the market – maybe it’s faster, smoother, cheaper, more efficient, more aesthetically pleasing, BIGGER? We only have to look at mobile phones or computers to see this continual and gradual type of evolutionary innovation.
In the fitness industry, innovation is a-plenty. One single example would be in 1968 when Dr Kenneth H Cooper, MD, MHP coined the term ‘aerobics’, formulating a revolutionary concept in fitness and introducing it to the world through his bestselling book Aerobics. Then, in 1989 after a knee injury, Gin Miller consulted with an orthopaedic doctor who recommended she strengthen the muscles supporting the knee by stepping up and down on a milk crate step, giving rise to step aerobics.
This evolution continues today. Current and possible innovations in the fitness space include:
- activity trackers on watches and wristbands, but also in jewellery and other accessories
- smart clothes, including shoes, shorts, pants and bras
- skin and/or sweat sensors that provide biofeedback data
- delivery of fitness through live video and/or immersive 360 video
- digitally immersive augmentedreality (AR) and virtual-reality (VR) classes
- artificial intelligence (AI) used to guide and inform workouts and interpret data
As fitness business owners, managers or fitness professionals, we look to suppliers of innovative products, services and solutions that will allow us to provide a new and better experience for our clients.
Synergy Fitness has a long and proud history since 1976 in the innovation, design and evolution of commercial strength and conditioning equipment. The Synergy group was the very first to design and manufacture pin loaded machines with compound converging/diverging arc, unilateral movement technology, for its upper body pin loaded machines. Other original and innovative designs include the Seated Leg Curl machine and the first multifunction dual adjustable pulley system with adjustable backrest support. Forward-thinking and creativity led to these original, highly effective revolutionary designs which still form the basis of the Synergy strength line and have had a massive impact, being used as a blueprint by most other leading manufacturers around the world.
EYE Fitness specialise in the supply of interactive solutions and engaging cardio, such as the SMARTfit cognitive training systems, the Sproing Fitness Trainer, and unique strength machines such as the world’s only variable cam technology, delivering the most effective muscle recruitment.
This new Synergy and EYE Fitness partnership of industry leaders is monumental in the Australian fitness industry, and brings with it the prospect of combined resources for new product innovation, service, maintenance, aftercare and education.
Interactive and innovative fitness solutions engage your members, increase sales, create excitement and develop challenges and connection within your facility. These are solutions across your gym floor that delivers a point of difference in the marketplace – and that’s innovation in itself.
Find out more about the merger in the official Press Release
Article written by Craig Mac for the WNiF Magazine – Autumn 2017 Edition.