5 Opportunities Digital Learning Lends to Sports and Fitness Businesses

2016-09-13-1473788432-3012262-AndrewFayad.pngBy Andrew Fayad

As I watched the Olympics this summer, I was reminded of the possibilities that result from a dedication to learning and mastering a skill. The majority of us look at athletes and assume they were just born with their abilities, but this couldn't be further from the truth. While it's true that some people are better suited for different kinds of activities than others, what it really comes down to is how these athletes learn to improve their skills over and over again. As the co-founder of a creative design agency focused on digital learning, I can tell you the learning aspect of sports and fitness has been an undervalued opportunity for businesses and business owners in the industry.

Here are five ways digital learning can change the way sports and fitness companies do business.

1. "Follow the Leader" Turns Digital

Remember playing "Follow the Leader" as a kid? One person would be the designated "leader" and everyone else would follow and mimic his or her every movement? As a kid, you probably didn't realize what a great learning exercise that was. We now do the same thing in a digital capacity through observational learning. 

Take SoulCycle as an example. When you take a class at one of their studios, you learn proper riding techniques by following the instructor. As you mimic the instructor, you are using mirror neurons, which help you lock movements into your memory to be performed again later.

By implementing this concept, you can conduct predictive exercises in your classes. Use a training video simulation that allows learners to predict the outcome of an observed action. This not only builds a stronger learning correlation, but it improves anticipatory skills on reading the kinematic movements of others.

2. Practice Becomes More Perfect

Once you practice something incorrectly, it's much harder to correct. Practicing is only effective so long as you practice it perfectly over and over again. This is where digital learning can be a valuable tool in the sports and fitness industry. Before a mistake can even begin to be practiced, providing the correct instruction through detailed, interactive videos can help the learner go back and reference whether they are exercising or using equipment correctly.

3. You Can Certify Employees and Customers

It's imperative that fitness trainers know what they're doing; otherwise, they could risk pushing someone past their physical limits and injuring them. Implementing a digital fitness program can help eliminate this risk. Trainers can stay up to date on the latest kinesiology trends, better understand the muscle groups and how to work them and even "level up" by achieving certificates.

Digital learning also offers customers a unique opportunity, as it can allow them to become "certified" in your brand's unique programs. Let's say you own several gyms around New York City, and you are known for your unique yoga classes. To add some challenge, motivation, and to get members hooked on the class, you could create a digital training and assessment course that tests your members' yoga knowledge and skills. The physical portion of the assessment could be held on-site, and members can see rankings of the top "yoga masters" at each gym. This not only offers a cool incentive that differentiates your gym from others, but it brings a gamified element to your product.

4. You Can Offer a More Affordable Alternative

Personal training sessions and yoga lessons can be costly for consumers. The price may even hinder a good portion of your clientele from purchasing them. But what if you could take the basics from your personal training offerings and package them in an interactive video series? This not only creates a new stream of revenue for your business, but it allows you to compete with others in your industry who may be missing the mark. 

5. You Can Give the Underdog a Chance to Shine 

Julius Yego, the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in a field event and now an Olympic javelin competitor, learned his skills by watching YouTube videos. When he was growing up in his native Kenya at 10 years old, he would watch clips and practice his technique with sticks he would find lying around. Because he couldn't afford a personal trainer, he became his own motivation and taught himself everything by watching other great javelin throwers online. His continual commitment to online education and practice caught the eye of professional trainers who then gave him the backing he needed to go on to compete professionally.

Digital learning can help foster more inspirational stories like this one, and offer sports and fitness businesses a way to give back that can be life-changing, as in Julius's case.

In many ways, digital learning gives sports and fitness businesses the opportunity to offer more effective and affordable solutions, resulting in a long-term competitive advantage in the industry.

Andrew Fayad is the CEO and managing partner of eLearning Mind, an interactive creative agency focused on digital learning that helps companies transform their existing learning materials into memorable and engaging e-learning experiences.