MYTRAK is the brainchild of Reed Hanoun, a fitness and medical devices entrepreneur who has been in the health club and medical fields for 20 years. Previously he had focused on developing physical rehabilitation diagnostics, injury restoration technology, and software for physical therapy clinics and chiropractors. Wanting to get back into fitness, his first love, Hanoun did a thorough analysis of the state of the industry. He needed to discover what was missing, and most importantly, how to start a buzz that would once again get people truly excited about exercise.
According to Hanoun, "I knew I wanted to develop a technology for the fitness industry. I knew that the industry was waiting for the next push, the next 'sizzle'. There hasn't been new, innovative and exciting technology for the fitness industry for some time. A robust information system that is simple and non-intimidating to members, and at the right price to the club owner, seemed worthy of our development."
A member of the Ontario Racquet Club watches the MYTRAK EC controller and tries to keep the ligths in the green
The Overwhelming Need for Information and Feedback for Beginners
There is a vast difference between the fit crowd and the deconditioned crowd. The fit crowd is already motivated; they've probably been keeping paper charts on their progress for years. But to the novice deconditioned crowd, fitness is a daunting challenge. It's not uncommon for them to not see any discernable changes in their bodies for as much as 12 weeks. Unfortunately, they are feeling the discomfort of working out and the demands on their time, but that inner voice is telling them to "quit".
The solution is to show the beginner that there is indeed progress being made and to encourage them to continue. According to Hanoun, "For the first 2-3 months exercisers may not see any changes at all, they may get discouraged and drop out. MYTRAK provides 'hidden information' about their progress that motivates them to keep going." With MYTRAK, exercisers can literally see a representation of their body type on a screen and all the progress they have made--- even if it's not yet visible on the outside.
Hanoun went on, "In the early stages of exercise all physical improvements occur from the inside out; changes such as cardiovascular improvement, their ability to exert energy, or perhaps in their flexibility, for sure in their range of motion. MYTRAK gives them a really clear objective analysis and snapshot [of those improvements] right from the start."
A New Profit Center for Health Clubs
McCarrol does not view MYTRAK as an overhead item with the prayer that it will immeasurably attract and retain members. He views it as a profit center that members will want to subscribe to.
McCarrol shared his vision, "Rather than just throwing it in, and using it, it's almost like a mini-personal trainer. We can charge members $8 to $20 per person per month. For that they get incredible feedback, incredible reporting and once or twice per month a personal trainer will work with them for 15 minutes to make sure they're doing things the right way. It's incremental revenue for the club"
An Extension to Personal Trainers
Although MYTRAK empowers members to improve their exercise intensity and remain at an optimal level totally on their own, it is actually an aid to personal training.
MYTRAK doesn't replace the personal trainer; it provides an unprecedented amount of member information to personal trainers, enabling them to better manage a larger list of clients.
Personal trainers are now able to analyze performances and trends and deficiencies--- over a period of time or for a single session. Based on this information, he or she can then make recommendations to their clients on how to improve and maximize workouts based on his/her analysis and the data of a myriad of reports.
How MYTRAK Works
The elegance of MYTRAK lies in its simplicity. The power lies in the behind-the-scenes computer programs. Installations are so simple that they can actually be performed by club personnel.
Each exercise station in the gym is fitted with movement sensors that calculate the velocity, speed and range of a weight stack, hydraulic piston, spinning bike wheel, or any of the many moving parts in fitness equipment.
Also, each piece of equipment is fitted with it's own Exercise Controller (EC) that faces the exerciser and provides the feedback lights. The ECs internal computer quickly calculates the data from the movement sensors and compares it to the member's profile to give the real time feedback and the appropriate colored lights.
Club members that enroll in the MYTRAK program are issued their own personal ID wristband, which uses the latest in automated RFID technology, and a heart rate belt that is worn on the chest. They are then walked through a workout by a club trainer and MYTRAK figures out their ideal range of motion and more importantly their individual Performance Index (PI). These become the beginning benchmarks for that member.
MYTRAK operates on a unique Performance Index (PI), a value of energy ranging from 1 to 1,000, that each user is required to achieve. A PI of 1,000 represents the highest level of physical performance of a professional athlete. A beginning exerciser would range from 100 to 250.
This conforms to an international standard of human performance that classifies and categorizes the human body based on individual muscle groups, rather than on the equipment in use. This approach is carving new trends and rewriting the book on exercise physiology and physical activity.
The equipped machines identify the user by their ID band and quickly retrieve their unique user profile and benchmarks from the club's main computer. As the user exercises, their heart rate is tracked and compared to their heart rate target zone, while their physical effort is compared to the PI value outlined. It then instantly communicates this information to the user via the yellow, green, and red light displays.
One Size Does Not Fit All, The Key is Personalization
MYTRAK is ultrapersonalized to each member's physical ability and function.
According to Hanoun, "Person A's PI might be set at a value of 100, and as long as they can get to the 100, they'll get to the green. Person B might be a professional athlete and their PI might be set at 900, and they will have to work a lot harder than person A to stay in the green."
In essence, you can have a room full of exercisers of different shapes, sizes and levels of physical conditioning, working out at different levels of intensity, but if the lights are green, they're all achieving the level of exercise that is perfect for each of them.
Another strength of MYTRAK is that it does not remain static. Exercisers have good days and bad days, and they should be challenged to work harder once they consistently accomplish a level of strength. According to Hanoun, "MYTRAK will automatically take members through their entire workout and challenge them to increase their level of intensity and put forth levels that MYTRAK understands that they have the physical ability to attain. In contrast, if the member is having a bad day due to illness or fatigue and wants to tone down their workout for this session, they can adjust their performance index at the kiosk accordingly for a less rigorous workout, until they feel better."