THE WEEKLY HOWL IS INTERVIEWING FOR A JOB

Fitness Trackers: Data is king in the 21st century but it is important to understand why. There is data collection and then there is data analysis. One without the other is useless and right now fitness trackers are collecting a lot of data but not offering a lot of effective tools for analyzing data. From Quick and Dirty Tips:

Once again, I arrive at the same conclusion that by simply wearing a device, glancing at your steps, heart rate, distance, (wildly inaccurate) calories burned, and whatever info you feel is pertinent to your lifestyle, is simply not helpful. There must be a way to use that data to form a plan of action. You must use that information to inform your fitness plan for the next day, week, and month. You must have the ability, and the desire, to analyze that data and make future decisions around your overall fitness goals, similar to the way I described I do for the athletes I coach.

                  Think of a business: most companies have some sort of reporting software (Oracle, MicroStrategy) that compiles its data and delivers it to the company. That data by itself is useless, the company needs to hire people who can analyze that data and deliver recommendations to management based on their analysis. Fitness trackers are the reporting software, the question is who is filling the role of the analyst. So what do you do if you have a fitness tracker? You have to make an effort to understand the data that is being collected:

-Do some research on the biometric data points you plan to collect.

-Spend some time finding out what your baseline is.

-Set a specific goal.

-Lay out a plan to reach that goal.

-Monitor your data like a coach.

-Don’t be afraid to readjust your plan based on the data.

                  You need to either hire a coach/trainer or start thinking like a coach/trainer.

Looking good Billy Ray: Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that fitness, wellness, and beauty seem to be intermingling if not converging. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has noticed this trend. From WWD:

Fitness, wellness, beauty brand.

That appears to be the new trajectory being adopted by a fitness industry eager to intersect with the multitrillion-dollar wellness movement and multibillion-dollar beauty world. Trainers as well as studios and gyms ranging from boutique to big box are looking to extend their reach beyond the actual workouts they’re peddling, whether it’s creating protein powders to fuel the body from the inside out or segueing into beauty, from linking with Gen Z and Millennial favorite Glossier to formulating stand-alone skin-care brands.

“To say there’s a convergence of fitness, wellness and beauty is an understatement. They are all the same,” said Vimla Black Gupta, chief marketing officer at Equinox, who called the club’s motto, “It’s not fitness. It’s life,” a prescient metaphor for the current melding of the three sectors.

                  I can’t say that I am fan of this. A merging of the fitness and beauty industries would emphasize the appearance aspect of fitness and I don’t think that is the best path forward. Of course, physical appearance will always be a huge part of everyone’s fitness journey but I don’t believe that it should be viewed as the destination. The destination should be feeling good, seeing what your body is capable of, learning how hard you can push yourself. Looking good should be the views you take in on your way to the top of the mountain.

                  However, there is still a long way to go for the three industries to merge.

While some consider the industries so intertwined that they’re one and the same, Marc Magliacano, a managing partner at private equity firm L Catterton, still thinks brands should proceed with caution.

Today, a rush to establish a “lifestyle brand” has sent founders in the fitness and beauty spaces scrambling to try to encapsulate everything they offer in health and/or wellness under one brand. But despite this, he believes brands should tread lightly when expanding into additional categories because people only have that much room in their lives for any one brand.

“If you want fitness you may go to Equinox, if you want skin care you may use Elemis, if you want body care you may use Bliss, if you want meditation you may use Headspace. People want to have the option to go curate and edit their own wellbeing, and we know Millennials do,” Magliacano said, citing a handful of L Catterton’s investments. The firm’s portfolio has cornered the market when it comes to a cross-section of fitness and beauty brands, which in addition to the above include Pure Barre, Peloton, Sweaty Betty, Cover FX and Tula.

To him, building a true lifestyle brand means creating “something with meaning to the consumer that’s relevant in the life of a consumer”; it doesn’t mean that one lives their entire life around a brand, but merely that a brand is meaningful in one’s life.

                  Beware of any CEO who talks of building a lifestyle brand. It is extremely difficult to build a brand that is trusted by the consumer in several categories. It is hard enough for a company to master one thing. By trying to master multiple categories, they would be leaving themselves open to a young, hungry company that is more than happy to focus on one category.

Privacy: Another day, another high-profile hack. Under Armour revealed last week that its MyFitnessPal app had been hacked and 150 million users may have been compromised. It seems that, other than getting hacked, UA avoided a lot of mistakes. They silo-ed user data, keeping financial information and general user information and uploaded data all separate. They also let the public know in a timely manner instead of trying to keep it a secret. But this is another sobering reminder that no company can guarantee the safety of the data that you entrust it with. From Slate:

 While it’s not as big of a target as the health care industry—stolen health credentials can go for 10 or 20 times the value of a stolen credit card on the black market, for example—apps like MyFitnessPal still store a large amount of detailed, personal information that can be used to profile and track an individual. In a 2016 interview with Digital Trends, Andrew Hilts, executive director at Canadian data security–advocacy group Open Effect, said that with such incredibly detailed records at their disposal, hackers could “suddenly have a very valuable source of intelligence about individuals’ whereabouts.” MyFitnessPal can collect your precise location data as well as performance data, according to its privacy policy—and that’s in addition to all the other information you voluntarily give the app.

                  Everything is hackable. Once you accept that, you really have to question what kind of data you want to upload. We all have our own comfort levels but it is possible that it may not be in our best personal interest to share too much data.

Job interviews suck no matter what: Goodlife Fitness, a gym operator in Canada, includes a 20 minute workout as part of their interview process. They view it as an opportunity for the interviewee to get a feel for their culture as well as a chance to see potential employees in a more relaxed setting. This practice upset one interviewee. From the CBC:

She got a second interview. The three-hour process would include a portion with her boss, a portion with her potential co-workers, and a workout. 

"As much as I respect company culture and that you have to be a fit, I don't understand how a gym workout is part of an office business culture, and how it's OK to make that part of the interview process, to add physical fitness to a job interview. It blows my mind," Clifford said. 

"I feel thoroughly judged while I walk through a gym. For me, exercise is a very personal thing. It's about working out, whereas a job interview is about what your strengths are, about my work, which I'm good at." 

Clifford replied to the email to Goodlife saying she didn't feel comfortable doing a workout, and was told she didn't have to do it. In the meantime, she found another position. 

"I was very disappointed in their response. They defended their practice, said they were judgment free, that they just want to know what my fitness goals are. I can't think of anything where I'd feel more judged than putting on my workout clothes and working out during a job interview. What if I said my goal is a 5K (run), and what if I didn't do it?" 

                  I am of two minds on this. The first is that this is a fitness company and they probably want a passion for fitness to a part of the company culture. If this was a company in any other industry, it might seem ridiculous but integrating that company’s product or service into the interview process seems reasonable. And I really doubt that they were going to count this woman’s reps or otherwise evaluate her on her fitness. How does sitting in a room and talking about yourself have to do with most jobs? It’s just that we are used to that being the way that we are evaluated for employment. Seeing someone in a less formal situation can be valuable to assessing someone’s fit.

                  That said, I can see why this could make someone feel uncomfortable. It could be hard to shake that feeling that your fitness is being factored into the evaluation even if that seems very unlikely. Job interviews can be very formal, it could be jarring to have it mixed with the informality of the gym. Goodlife is flexible on this portion of the process and told the woman that she didn’t have to participate in the workout. She ended up finding another job.

                  Culture is crucial to any company. It’s probably better for both parties that she didn’t get the job. Job interviews are also an opportunity for interviewees to evaluate employers. If you think that their interview process is ridiculous, then you’re probably not going to like working there either. By telling you who they are early on, employers are doing you a favor.

 

30 minutes or less: I’m a firm believer that any fitness program that calls for workouts that last longer than 60 minutes is deeply flawed. We all live busy lives and most of us will struggle to fit anything longer into our daily schedules. Some studios are now experimenting with even shorter workouts and the results are good. From Well + Good:

Once a week, Kelly Ryan grabs her gym bag, tosses her hair into a ponytail, and hurriedly leaves her desk in midtown Manhattan. Two subway stops later, she’s clipping in for a 30-minute ride at one of her favorite studios, Peloton. “Going on my lunch hour is doable when the classes are that length,” the 28-year-old marketing manager says. “It works well with my schedule, and I feel even more productive when I’m back at my desk knowing I’ve tackled another thing on my to-do list.”

Peloton isn’t the only boutique studio offering an express class of sorts. This is officially the era of fast fitness, with more gyms, apps, and streaming platforms rolling out on the reg that are making it easier than ever to squeeze in a sweat sesh in less time than it takes most mid-day food orders to be delivered.

At the beginning of 2017, Equinox launched its wildly popular, 30-minute Firestarter class, promising members a complete cardio challenge with lightning-fast intervals. Other big names in fitness like Mile High Run Club, Pure Yoga, Exhale, and Rise Nation offer concise options to keep their clients happy. After seeing an uptick in quick-hit workouts, ClassPass is now jumping on the bandwagon, too, with its new half-hour ClassPass Live workouts.

                  30 minutes is a very short workout because you still have to warm-up and cool-down. You can get a great workout in but you have to really crank up the intensity. That intensity can be a little too much for some people.

She’s right if good vibes are what you’re looking for in a workout. In a new study, researchers recruited overweight, inactive adults (as opposed to participants who were in shape with a consistent exercise routine) and found the subjected experienced greater pleasure doing longer workouts with moderately intense exercise than shorter, high-intensity workouts. (Just to note, both workouts burned the same number of calories.)

                  It’s not too surprising that people who are new to working out not be ready for high-intensity interval training. For more experienced gym-goers, quick and efficient workouts are going to continue to grow in popularity. Sometimes, you need to get in and get out.

TidBits:

-Always great to see veterans doing well

-Brie Larson is getting in super-hero shape

-A banana is as effective as a sports drink as a post-workout

-The Sly Stallone back workout

-A chat with the CEO of Exponetial Fitness