Virgin Active smart gyms
Tech-focused Virgin Active gyms have smartphone-syncing equipment and fitness trackersVirgin Active

New tech-focused gyms by Virgin Active give members a smart wristband to track their workouts and sync exercise between equipment and their smartphone.

The new London gyms, which are opening in Paddington and Cannon Street as part of the company's £100m investment programme, offer the fitness trackers as part of the membership plan; they can be used to swipe in and out of the gym instead of using a membership card, work as a locker key, and measure and track workout history both in the gym and at home.

Equipment at both gyms can be synced with members' smartphones to keep a digital record of their workouts, while new fitness machines include portals for using Skype and YouTube, watching Ted talks and playing games, as well as browsing the web and telling your Facebook friends how smug they feel.

Virgin Active will hope the wristbands will lure members away from other fitness trackers sold by the likes of Fitbit, Nike and Jawbone, as well as offer an incentive to pay the relatively high membership fees compared with an influx of cheaper, less tech-savvy alternatives such as The Gym and Pure Gym.

Chief information officer Andy Caddy described the rise of fitness trackers as "a very positive trend".

He told Marketing Magazine: "As more members use apps to track activeness outside of club, we wanted to ensure our definition of activeness is not constrained to what happens in club but takes into account the entirety of our members' lifestyles."

Despite offering more gyms than any other company in the UK, Virgin Active has fewer members - approximately 400,000 - than market leader Pure Gym, which has 450,000.

On the opposite end of the fitness scale, the company's entertainment cousin, Virgin Media, recently announced a wristband that automatically records the television programme you were watching if you fall asleep in front of it.