Technology, Health & the Human Connection—with Bryan O’Rourke – EP129

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Technology has the capacity to make our lives better, making us fitter and more efficient. It also creates a whole new set of problems, impacting our mental health and creating a sense of isolation and disconnection. So, how do we make thoughtful choices to incorporate technology without losing what’s valuable about being human? And how is tech likely to impact the health and fitness industry moving forward?




Bryan O’Rourke is an accomplished CEO, strategic advisor, entrepreneur, investor, author and professional speaker. As the Principal and Chief Executive with Vedere Ventures, he has developed a portfolio in fitness and healthcare, food and beverage, international trade, technology and franchising. Bryan also serves as president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council and host of the Fitness + Technology Podcast, and he has been a featured presenter at international industry conferences in the health club, fitness, business and technology space.

Today, Bryan joins us to explain how traditional training is likely to evolve as technology develops and to share his take on the relationships among technology, health and the human connection. He discusses the explosion of consumer choice when it comes to health and fitness, offering insight into what the best fitness tech of the future might look like. Bryan also weighs in on the companies that are integrating tech well right now and the thought process behind his firm’s investment decisions. Listen in to find out what wearables and fitness tech Bryan uses himself and learn why he advocates open-mindedness AND caution when it comes to technological advancement and our health.

Topics Covered

[1:20] Bryan’s background in fitness and technology

  • Early adopter of technical applications
  • Entered fitness space in 1990’s
[3:43] Bryan’s take on the tech with the greatest impact

  • ‘Cool’ tech may have negative consequences
  • Birth control pill most profound implications
[5:29] Why now is the best time to be in the fitness industry

  • Many ways to create specialized products/solutions
  • Megatrends point to explosion in demand
[7:09] How traditional training is likely to change

  • Personal training will never go away, but will be smaller part
  • Digital delivery + hybrid models (i.e.: Restoration Hardware)
[11:02] The fitness companies that are integrating tech well now

[13:40] Bryan’s insight on the explosion of consumer choice

  • Business models must meet needs in unique way
  • Pure brand vs. platform plays (e.g.: ClassPass)
[15:44] Bryan’s take on the best fitness tech of the future

  • Haven’t even been conceptualized yet
  • Combine mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, fashion + medical
[17:46] Kevin Kelly’s view of technology

  • Continuation of human evolution (tech = biology)
  • Responsibility around unintended consequences
[21:07] Why technology doesn’t always help us get fitter

  • Makes some things better but creates new set of problems
  • Mental health impacts, lack of activity and sense of isolation
[24:07] How Bryan thinks about privacy in fitness tech

  • Can enable great experience OR serve as threat
  • Current government systems behind times
[26:15] Bryan’s insight around the rise of wearables

  • Defines as data collection from sensors to create value
  • Personalized coaching based on psychological profile
[31:33] How Bryan makes fitness tech investment decisions

  • Platforms that integrate data to create experience
  • Continued development around IoT and true AI
[35:54] Bryan’s thoughts on tech and the human connection

  • Tech facilitates new experiences (i.e.: music)
  • Digital gateway to in-person fitness practice
[40:00] Bryan’s favorite health and fitness tech

  • Voice interface (e.g.: Alexa daily schedule)
  • Apple Watch, Myzone (share with friends around world)
[42:33] Bryan’s top tips for Ali Fitness listeners

  • Be open-minded AND on your guard
  • Be mindful of legislation, exercise right to vote

Learn More About Bryan O’Rourke

Bryan’s Website

Bryan on LinkedIn

Fitness + Technology Podcast

Vedere Ventures





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Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly’s TED Talks

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

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