THE WEEKLY HOWL IS EXITING THE WEARABLES SPACE

Money can’t buy everything: Researchers tried paying people to go to the gym. It was not successful. And for some reason, people are surprised about this. Of course, it didn’t work. And there are two main reasons why.

1)      It’s a push, not a pull. If you want people to work-out, then you need to give them a goal. Not a wish, a goal. Wanting to lose weight or look good naked is not a goal. Doing 10 pullups by September 1 is a goal. A goal will pull people into the gym.

2)      Once you bring money into the equation, you change the way that people think about something. Fitness is priceless. You can’t put a price on looking and feeling good. But once you start paying people to do something, then it’s a job and they will start to make calculations in the same way that they do with any other job. It becomes transformative rather than additive. These researchers were probably thinking that this would be additive: I get to work-out (priceless!) and I get an Amazon gift card on top of that. But it becomes transformative, it transforms the way that the participants think about the activity. It becomes about the money: so I’ll only get $10 for one hour of work, I don’t need the money that bad.

I’m seeing some media outlets already throwing up their hands and bemoaning the fact that you can’t pay people to go the gym. This is no cause for despair, it is just the wrong way to think about motivating people.

Be safe: Rhabdo’s back in the news but not connected to CrossFit this time. It appears that there has been a rash of people suffering rhabdomyolysis after high-intensity spin classes. Just in case you need reminding that rhabdo is very nasty:

In 2014, doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center published a report on two patients who arrived at the emergency room with rhabdo shortly after their first spin class. One was a 24-year-old woman hobbled by pain, her legs swollen and feeling “as tight as drums.” She was rushed to surgery, where doctors sliced her thighs open to relieve a dangerous buildup of pressure.

                Please be safe out there. It’s okay to ease into a new exercise routine but if you overdo it and your limbs become stiff and swollen and your urine is brown, go to the ER! If you’re a trainer, fitness instructor, or coach, please be aware of when you’re pushing people too hard. You have more power than you probably realize.

“One thing I’ve noticed when people tell me they’ve gotten rhabdo in the gym is that they gave up their personal power,” said Mr. Cannon, author of “Rhabdo: The Scary Side Effect of Exercise You’ve Never Heard Of.” “They kept doing what the instructor told them to do because they did not want to look weak.”

That was the case for Nancy Weindruch, a communications executive at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group in Washington. In 2015 Ms. Weindruch, who exercised regularly, attended a spin class with her sister, but was not prepared for the instructor’s fast pace and directions to “push past your limits.”

“It went from zero to 60 very quickly,” she said. “Within minutes I knew that I was in over my head. But I swallowed my pride and kept going.”

Three days later, after unbearable pain in her legs, she was admitted to a hospital with rhabdomyolysis and was kept there for six days.

                Pushing someone past their limits is not always a good thing.

Airport Gym: Men’s Journal had some more details on the gym going into the Baltimore Airport:

The tiny 1,175 sq. foot space is a mix of three treadmills, one elliptical, a single bike and free weight area. Dumbbells range from 5 to 50-pound — not exactly your local CrossFit box. If you're looking for a squat rack, bench press or any other accessory weight machine, you're out of luck — Roam doesn't have the space or weights as of yet.

                So it’s basically a hotel gym, maybe a little bigger. This is such a small space for a gym that I have to wonder how Roam Fitness is going to make it work. If there are 10 people in there, it will feel full. That would be all the cardio machines in use and 5 people in the free weight area. And if the gym always looked packed, then that will discourage more people from shelling out $25 for a day pass. The only gyms this small that make it work are personal training studios and low cost operators. Personal training studios make it work by getting more money out of their clients and low cost operators do so by having members who never show up to workout. I have to wonder if the size of the gym is a good fit with their business model. The only way I can see it working is if they’re counting on employers footing the bill for business travelers, who then rarely use it but still value the perk.

Wearables: According to a report from CNBC, Intel is exiting the wearables space. They acquired the maker of the Basis fitness watch back in 2014 but it was never really a competitor with the industry leaders.

Intel once hoped that it would rule the wearables category alongside such players as Apple and Fitbit. Back in 2014, the company partnered with celebrities like 50 cent to show off its heart-rate sensing earbuds. Also in that year, it shelled out roughly $100 million for Basis. 

                There is no doubt that fitness tracker space is barbell-ing (no pun intended). Consumers are gravitating to high-end smartwatches (Apple Watch) or low-end trackers. Either you want a device that does a bunch of stuff besides fitness tracking or you want a pedometer that will connect to your smartphone. 

                And even though they don’t want to talk about sales figures, the big winner in all of this is Apple. They are firmly in control of the high end of the wearables market and eager to expand that advantage with a slew of new fitness-oriented features.

"We previously have given you nudges, but those were all time-based," he said. "We wanted to make the Watch even smarter. So now in the fall, the Watch is going to get to know you based on your activity and provide notifications that are personal. So we would all start our day with inspiration, but the inspiration I would get from the Watch for me would be different from what you would get. So let’s say I’m five days away from a streak, it might point that out to me to keep me on track Or say I don’t have any good news coming up, it might remind me what yesterday’s good news was. Which rings did I close? Did I double up my exercise goal? It’s constantly looking for ways every morning to nudge you and keep you on track for what you might be doing."

                The Apple Watch has not been the success that they were looking for but it has become the dominant product in wearables. It’s just that wearables is not living up to the hype. But it is a complementary product to one of the most profitable products of all-time (iPhone). Right now that puts the Apple Watch in a very favorable position. What will be interesting is when the technology progresses to the point that smartwatches can function independently from smartphones. Will Apple stay true to its own tradition or fall into the Microsoft trap? Steve Jobs seemed like he had no fear of cannibalizing existing products with new ones and I imagine that this attitude is baked into the culture in Cupertino. But the iPhone has been the golden goose and it won’t be easy for a non-founder CEO to do anything to undermine that. Microsoft is infamous for hesitating on mobile phones and tablets out of fear of upsetting the Windows/Office money machines. And now they are paying the price for it.

Let’s Talk CrossFit:

-CBS Sports will be broadcasting the CrossFit Games this year, not ESPN. Set your DVR’s accordingly.

-The obstacle course is coming back to the CrossFit Games. In 2012, athletes competed on the Marine Corps Obstacle Course at Camp Pendleton. This year, there will be a custom obstacle course in Madison.

-Reebok is bringing fantasy sports to the CrossFit Games. A perfect bracket wins a million dollars. First prize is $20,000 of Rogue equipment. Direct link is reebok.com\pickem

-The Madison Area Sports Commission has created a visitor guide for CrossFit fans headed to Madison next month.

-“Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness” is available to stream on Netflix

TidBits:

-Watch out, Jeff Bezos has been working out

-Tough Mudder is going to start franchising studio gyms

-YogaWorks has pulled its IPO