Watches Are Good, Synchronized Watches Are Better


Written by Tom Richards, Senior Legislative Counsel, IHRSA

As a young kid playing various “war games” in and around the wooded neighborhoods of upstate New York, my friends and I always thought it was essential to synchronize our plastic digital watches, like they did in the movies. Of course, we never performed any maneuvers that would require precise timing, but the act of synchronizing our watches seemed to strengthen the bond among friends and make us more accountable to one another. It was a signal that we were in it together.

I thought of my old friends as I watched the roll out of Apple’s latest world changing technology.

The Apple Watch electrified the mobile health movement on Tuesday with its integration of several health and fitness applications. With its user-friendly interface and elegant design, the Apple Watch combines the utility of health monitoring devices with humanity’s love affair with touch screens. It’s a very exciting tool that surely represents just the beginning of a new era of wearable technology. Unfortunately, despite its relentless coolness, it can’t lift people off the couch, take them for a walk, or drive them to a gym.

As we’ve discussed previously in this space, there is no one solution that will get the world moving.

But we know there is at least one powerful motivator for physical activity that seems to positively impact a great number of people: the buddy system.

We may be a more sedentary species than we once were, but we are as social as ever.

What we in the health club industry have learned is that people are more likely to go to the gym if they have a workout partner, a friend at the gym, or feel connected to a group exercise class.

If you know someone is expecting to see you, you are more likely to show up – especially if that someone is likely to give you some good-natured grief if you are a no-show.

And during a workout, we know that effort is contagious. Partners push and support each other.  Bonds are formed and strengthened.

When it comes to creating sustained healthy habits, it’s certainly possible to do it alone, but for most people, it’s a lot more fun and successful with a partner or team.

So, I am very hopeful that the Apple Watch will be a wonderful new fitness tool, but I still recommend first finding a work-out buddy or trainer who will join you on your journey. You can even buy your Apple Watches together and share your data across the wonderful new apps. And when it comes time to schedule your first meet-up at the gym, your new watches will already be synchronized.