Home SHAPE Newtown fitness center offer AI, robotics technology-based workout

Newtown fitness center offer AI, robotics technology-based workout

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Marion Callahan
Bucks County Courier Times, Levittown, Pa.

If you step into Newtown’s newest fitness center, you may not see what you’d typically find in a suburban gym.

Inside The Exercise Coach, you won’t find dumbbells or crowded Pilates classes, and it’s definitely not the kind of place where gym rats linger.

The fitness experience is meant to be fast, efficient and personalized.

“You can get in and out in 20 minutes,” said co-owner Pat Cappucci, who opened the Exercise Coach in early May with his wife, Julie.

He said clients are introduced to a program that helps them to maintain their fitness, both strength and cardio, with two 20-minute workouts per week. He said it eliminates a major “time-stress” that often people cite as an obstacle to sticking with a program.

Using robotic exercise technology, the center’s strength and cardio machines adjust to the users’ abilities.

Pat Cappucci said the science-based workout uses artificial intelligence and robotics to gauge strength and weaknesses to make workouts faster and more efficient. Each member has their own profile in the machines, which automatically make the exercises harder as a person gets stronger, so there is never a plateau and the member is competing against him or herself.

Pat and Julie Cappucci, who live in Warwick, said they felt so strongly about the concept that they were willing to invest their savings into the franchise, despite planning the opening in pandemic times out of an office building at 1717 Newtown-Langhorne Road, which has a Newtown address but is in Middletown Township.

Pat Cappucci said it was a convergence of factors that inspired their choice.

Last year, the company he worked for was sold. “I was out of a job and I had to think hard about what to do next — while the whole world was changing.”

As other fitness centers were closing their doors, Cappucci said he had many reasons to believe in the business, which has more than 100 centers across the country.

He first learned about the technology and fitness franchise a couple of years ago after he had surgery for a ruptured a disk in his back and wanted a more personalized way to keep fit. He tested out the machines at an Exercise Coach fitness center in the King of Prussia area.

“As a mechanical engineer by trade, I was a skeptic,” he said. “I tried it out for myself and was shocked at how well it can breakdown muscles in a very short period of time.”

After convincing his wife to try it, they decided to open two centers in Bucks County.

Julie Cappucci runs the finance arm of the business and her husband focuses on operations. While they acknowledge it is more expensive than a “general purpose gym,” they said it caters to the area’s aging demographic and offers a custom workout that is sensitive to limits, past injuries and individual goals and challenges.

It’s also attractive to those who are looking to start an exercise program for the first time or for those looking to return to exercising. Prices vary according to plans, which offer personal, couples and group rates. Someone could join the program for $299 a month, getting two sessions a week.

“People are not intimidated by coming here; our risk of injury is very low,” he said. “And we are COVID friendly, as we only have a few people in at a time. You are not going to be in a room sweating with 30 other people.”

And though the Exercise Coach’s robotic exercise technology is personalized, every workout is guided by certified coaches, Cappucci said.

Demonstrating the technology, Cappucci pointed to a touch screen that provided real-time feedback as someone was exercising.

“You can’t cheat; we see your effort based on your strength,” said Cappucci, motioning to a line and a curve that indicates whether the client is working to his or her potential. “And there is proof of progress. The machines track performance over time and we can see how it helps to increase strength over time, through that data we collect.”

Since the opening, he said clients have been positive about their experiences, with both personal workouts and small group workouts. The couple hope to open a center in Doylestown sometime next year, but for now, they are focusing on building the Newtown operation.

“It was nerve-wracking to decide in the middle of a pandemic to to do this, but we believe in the benefits of strength training, and we know we can help people on their journey to a healthier life,” he said.

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