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A consortium of industry leaders working to recommend a set of standards and best practices for fitness equipment technology is moving forward to formalize the organization.
The group, the Fitness Industry Technology Council, or FIT-C, has hired Andy Freed of Wakefield, Mass.-based Virtual, Inc. (www.virtualmgmt.com) as an outside consultant to help develop a formal membership, dues and bylaw structure for the organization.
FIT-C is targeting the first quarter 2012 for a formal launch, Freed told SNEWS after he met with the group Oct. 12, during the 2011 Club Industry Show in Chicago. Applications for membership are expected to be available by the end of this year, he said.
About 20 representatives from the industry, including Precor, Town Sports International, Athletes’ Performance, and Intel Corp., informally founded FIT-C at the 2010 Club Industry Show. (Click here to read a May 2011 SNEWS story about the group) and met again at the 2011 IHRSA show.
The founders noticed growing variances in fitness technology, such as the way equipment counts calories. They argue that without a consistent measurement method among machines, the differences could erode consumer trust in the industry. FIT-C members also plan to recommend best practices for increased compatibility, such as in how fitness equipment will allow users to download, analyze and protect their data.
To start, Freed said the group will focus on recommending a standard for fitness equipment’s caloric output data, and then analyze whether today’s most prevalent fitness equipment data protocol, CSAFE, can be adapted to make the data more universal, or if a new protocol might be needed.
Formalization of the group will help things move forward, Freed said, who’s company helps associations manage operations. “In these cases where there’s an informal group with reccomendations, no one is really committed until applications are signed, a structure and bylaws are agreed to, and checks are written,” Freed said.
Freed said he was unable to estimate how much a FIT-C membership would cost, only saying that there would be a tiered dues structure to allow for different size companies to join. He also declined to estimate how big the group may be. “Our goal is for a broad representation of the industry, not a specific number of companies or people,” he said.
More details of the FIT-C’s structure are set to come out in November or December, Freed said. It’s likely the organization will be split into at least two groups – one focusing on the technical side of the standards and best practices, the other dealing with the marketing and dissemination of the recommendations.