Interview with Stefan Küper, Senior Sales Manager, eGym GmbH
Many so-called diseases of civilization or lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and obesity seem to increase in frequency. Even so, we all want to stay fit and healthy for as long as possible. To motivate people to exercise more and to stay healthy, eGym relies on a mixture of automated training equipment, educated professionals and digital solutions.
At MEDICA 2019 we sat down with Stefan Küper from eGym. He described what digital fitness training looks like, revealed how it is more motivating than traditional training and explained why it is as important for our health as brushing our teeth.
Mr. Küper, why do we need a digital approach at the gym?
Stefan Küper: Currently, more and more people have osteoporosis, cardiovascular issues or Type 2 diabetes. In many cases, the culprit is a lack of physical activity and exercise. This process increasingly starts in childhood. Kids today no longer develop their full muscle strength as they are becoming less active and move less. Their sense of adventure is no longer honed on the playground or the soccer field, but is limited to using a joystick, PC or smartphone. This is no different as we get older. We are sitting too much – in our cars, at the office, at home. To promote and develop gross motor skills – strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and speed – we need new solutions and training methods that are quick, safe and very effective. These approaches should work for everyone, be fun and motivating.
That being said, there are not enough therapists – especially when it comes to physical therapy – to provide individualized care for most people and patients. We can only achieve this with the help of digital solutions. Digitization has already proven to be successful in meeting these increasing demands and has simplified methods and processes in many areas.
What makes training with eGym different from traditional fitness training?
Küper: Traditional training equipment was built decades ago for professional athletes. Yet we cannot expect today's target market for fitness gyms and physical therapy practices to exercise using equipment that was built for professional athletic training. Our slogan is "Make the gym work for everyone". eGym is not a traditional equipment manufacturer, but rather a software company. We aim to provide training concepts for a broad target audience using software solutions, thus enabling people to exercise who may have been unaware that they need training. eGym works for everyone – including professional athletes and patients.
What makes eGym equipment unique is that equipment settings are stored automatically. This means there is no need for patients to adjust to their precise settings before they start their training. This minimizes training errors. The software is programmed to ensure that seat and lever position, range of motion and speed, as well as training load and breaks, are automatically set up. The weights are adjusted to the training units.
We have also developed a special training program by teaming up with the University of Leipzig and the Working Group for Diabetes and Sports of the German Diabetes Association. This training is specially geared toward people with Type 2 diabetes. If a patient suffers from this disease and comes to the gym, he or she only needs to press a button to be set up with the ideal workout program.
How do you train with eGym?
Küper: We first take a patient's medical history prior to providing detailed training instructions. Health data is collected and analyzed to pay attention to important aspects with this particular patient, to identify contraindications, to determine training elements that might have to be left out and to choose the devices or exercises that are essential and most beneficial in this case. After taking the patient's medical history, the therapist adjusts the patient once on each piece of equipment. Subsequently, the patient never has to adjust the device to his or her personal settings again. Before each subsequent training session, he or she only needs to hold the transponder wristband close to the device and it will automatically adjust to the patient’s precise settings. The therapist then does a muscular strength test to determine the ideal training weight for the patient. This test ensures that patients always train with the right weight for their training goals and current strength level. All activities – both at the studio and outside if the patient walks or runs outside – are documented and can be reviewed by the trainer or therapist via the eGym Trainer App.
Apart from the Trainer App, you also have an app that's tailored to users. What does it look like?
Küper: Our eGym Member App is designed to motivate and make workouts fun. The trainee/patient can visually track his/her success. The big issue with traditional training is that it takes a long time before you can see results by looking in the mirror. This is very discouraging for some people. Metaphorically speaking, we hold up a virtual mirror when users use the app. It allows them to track their own training results and progress, for example how their strength has improved on specific machines, to identify muscular imbalances, determine exercises that require more repetition and how to reduce the risk of orthopedic injuries. What's more, the trainee and trainer can both track the biological age, as well as the cardiovascular and metabolic age. This summarized "Bio Age" is the most frequently called up training assessment by members as it is an easy to understand at-a-glance performance analysis. For example, if the user starts training based on a chronological age of 40, the biological age is actually not 40 but tends to be closer to age 50. Once the user increases strength through training, he or she reduces his/her biological age, which in turn is very inspiring and motivating.
How has physical fitness evolved in recent years?
Küper: Many people no longer consider physical fitness and exercising a hobby. It has rather become a status symbol. In the past, people treasured an expensive watch or an expensive car. Today we treasure healthy aging. Exercise and training are necessary to stay healthy and live an active and self-determined life at 80. Fitness training is as important as brushing your teeth. People want to know more about their own bodies and they want things to be easy and quick and to make the most of their time.
What's more, you can see an increased differentiation in the fitness market. Many fitness studios offer affordable training and workouts. Meanwhile, there are more and more quality providers who understand that you also need good equipment, software, and skilled professionals to help trainees and patients achieve and sustain their personal fitness goals.