A new gym has opened in West Chester Township that isn’t your traditional workout place.
Fitness enthusiasts Billy Cottle and Veronica Sterling opened The Exercise Coach studio on June 2 after a year-long research process into what the brand had to offer.
Instead of traditional exercising equipment such as dumbbells, resistance bands or stability balls, the franchised fitness studio uses computers and robotics coupled with personalized instruction to deliver 20-minute workout sessions.
Having suffered from previous exercise-related injuries and after recently becoming parents, the couple decided The Exercise Coach was what they needed.
“As we’re getting older, we’re trying to avoid injuries, plus we have a kid so we have no time,” Sterling said. “So we love the 20 minutes, twice a week.”
The short workouts are said to be optimized for efficiency and beat seven-days-a-week traditional activity-based exercise.
Cottle explained part of the reason they chose The Exercise Coach was its appeal to middle-aged-and-older adults with busy lives, “a demographic that no one’s really serving.”
“We felt that there were not sufficient fitness options for the 40+ crowd, or those who just aren’t interested in a typical gym. They tend to be busier and more reluctant to hit the gym,” Cottle said. “The foundation of strength building and efficiency of gaining results with just two, 20-minute workouts per week was an obvious choice for us.”
A trip to the studio shed some light on how exactly The Exercise Coach works.
How the exercises work
Five strength training machines line against one wall, while the opposite features three high-intensity cardio machines. The studio has natural light and fresh air, thanks to a garage door that opens on the back wall.
The machines are set to a client’s exact ability level, which means they maximize muscle-building without running the risk of overexertion or injury.
To see exactly how these worked, I tried some of the machines, all of which come with a screen monitor to track progress.
A computerized machine runs a test on first-time clients to determine baseline muscle condition and the degree of resistance required to best work for their body.
Once that is registered, the screen shows a graph with a green line in the shape of a short-and-wide bell curve that you must follow in order to stay within your predetermined strength range for every rep.
We began on the leg press machine, where I pushed on the base with as much effort needed to track along the green line. I held for two seconds at the top before the machine was reversed and my legs switched to resisting mode, still keeping close to the now-descending green line.
Following the line was difficult, but got used to it after a few sessions.
After the set is done, you receive immediate feedback from the computer and your trainer. The machines also automatically make the exercises harder as the client gets stronger.
A typical day’s workout includes reps of eight to 10 workouts, incorporating not just weight training but also high-intensity cardio, such as an interval training stationary bike that gets your heart racing in just four minutes.
Cottle explained their focus is to use strength training to activate the muscles generally not used in daily life, which can start to deteriorate by age 40. He said these exercises can help reverse that deterioration.
The Exercise Coach also offers a nutritional playbook with “guidelines to make small improvements in daily life,” Sterling said.
How to check it out
Sessions run from $25 to $50 and there can be anywhere from one to four people with a trainer at a time.
The studio is located at 8104 Beckett Center Drive, West Chester Township. Hours of operation are from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Exercise Coach offers two free sessions to familiarize yourself with the machines and the programs.
COVID-19 guidelines: Cottle and Sterling said clients can decide whether to wear a mask or not. As for the trainers, they will continue wearing masks and wiping down equipment after each use.