Connected fitness should begin with shared connections
We have been asked many times on our approach to sharing of information when it comes to friend connections and why our platform doesn't support something that is so widely used in our everyday lives. Being a gym goer for several years now and a user of apps like Under Armour, Strava and Nike mobile apps, I noticed that my friends were different from than the ones I had on Facebook or Instagram. My circles were much bigger and less focus from my gym circles. The singular focus of my fitness circle had little to do with socialisation and more to do with meeting a goal and sharing health information.
Many years ago, I had another company that was based on social weight loss. During those days I didn't have an understanding of the space and the company failed, but I did learn one thing. "People want to share only when they have reached their goals and anything that has the word social will never have the trust it needs to grow."
When we were asked about socialization in the Gym Farm platform, we decided to take a different approach. Our entire network relies on trusted authority models and we wanted to provide the same for our members, NO blind friendships would be permitted. If you wanted to become a friend, you must know that person and meet that person to make a connection. After that trusted "handshake" you are free to exchange information like any other social network. Building our social platform this way, we believe will maintain the trust of the 18 years who is familiar with this process if they use Snap Chat to the 65-year old that wants to make sure they have the right personal connection.
To make this work all the members have one thing in common... they all have a gym membership and there is no need to gather any other information to make the relationships work.
Here is how our social connections will work: One member clicks the Add button which will display a scanner, the other member displays their member bar code. This is a singular direction connection, both people will have to do this function to have a 2-way connection. We implemented our shared connection this way to provide a Facebook or Twitter type communication layer. If we are friends we will want to share both ways like Facebook, but if this is a casual relationship where I only want to offer information, I don't need a 2-way platform and the experience is more like Twitter.
We see this as a powerful tool in the space. A facility owner can place barcodes on the walls that members can scan to join special communications groups, no more mailers or information gathering to communicate with the member community. Your trainers can build their client with a scan.
The idea of connected fitness should begin with relevant connections.