High-Tech Smartraining Trumps Personal Training: Technology Gives Koko FitClub Members An EdgeAug 27, 2013 02:12AM ● By Natasha Michaels
Personal fitness and diet are a national obsession in the United States. Unfortunately, while many want to change, Time magazine reported in early 2013 that losing weight and getting fit are the two most quickly forgotten New Year’s resolutions. In partial response to this, while once reserved for the wealthy, personal training has now become big business. The industry’s International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) noted in their 2011 Health Club Consumer Report that more than 6.4 million people were using personal trainers, despite the recession. However, despite this increased personal attention, many Americans have still not found fitness success and continue struggling with weight and health issues.
One rapidly growing fitness franchise aims to bridge this gap in a new way while fulfilling the need people feel for motivation, accountability, and a coach by their side. Using technology and highly customized plans to help people reach goals, Koko FitClub offers an alternative to both costly personal training services and conventional gyms. Founded in 2004, Koko FitClub opened its first facility in 2009 in Pembroke, Massachusetts, taking inspiration for the name from the Japanese word koko, meaning individual. There are currently 130 Koko FitClubs in 29 states, including four clubs in Fairfield County—Westport, Ridgefield, Darien and Monroe.
Peter Buckley’s interest in fitness was first ignited by his young son’s health problem. “When my son Jamie was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I became more aware of the benefits of, and more dedicated to, a healthy lifestyle,” he says. “The Koko FitClub concept allows me to help others with the same goal.” The New Canaan resident, who previously worked in banking, now owns the Westport and Ridgefield Koko FitClubs, which both opened within the past year.
Koko FitClub bills itself as an alternative to personal training, claiming the title of “world’s first automated training studio.” Its methodology attempts to address barriers keeping people from creating long-term healthy changes that will make a crucial difference in their bodies and lives. It leverages technological advances to maximize efficiency, giving members the opportunity to work out when they want and keeping them engaged with automated adjustments to their workouts and ongoing feedback as they progress. The company claims its proprietary strength and cardio equipment gives the benefits of a 60- to 90-minute personal training session in just 30-45 minutes.
Prior to beginning a workout program, members complete a fitness assessment to determine baseline weight, level of strength and cardio fitness, body mass index (BMI) and lean muscle mass. Using that information, a customized workout plan is created based on the member’s goals, such as to lose weight, build muscle or protect what they have. Members can also choose from select Health Tracks designed to support individuals with specific medical conditions such as back pain, arthritis, diabetes, men’s health and breast cancer recovery.
The plan is downloaded to an individualized flash drive, the Koko Key, which plugs into KoKo’s Smartraining cardio and strength equipment, registering the workout program for the day and recording all workout outcomes. Through touchscreen technology and audio prompts, the equipment not only tells users what weight to choose for each exercise and how to perform each exercise, but also gives them visual instructions for proper execution for maximum results.
The approach minimizes the kind of frustration and confusion that often derails even the most resolved individuals reentering the gym for the first time in a while. It also minimizes the need for a live personal trainer, but if members have questions or need personal assistance, Koko FitClubs have FitCoaches available during certain hours for one-on-one consultations.
Earlier this year, Koko FitClub introduced a nutritional element to its repertoire, further supporting its members in their quest for healthier lifestyles. Users can customize goals online with meal plans and nutritional guidance.
Locations: Koko FitClub of Westport: 619 Post Rd. E., Westport. For more information, call 203-557-3994 or visit Westport.KokoFitClub.com. Koko FitClub of Ridgefield, 88 Danbury Rd., Ridgefield. For more information, call 203-894-5055 or visit Ridgefield.KokoFitClub.com. See ad, page 35.
Natasha Michaels is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings magazine.