By Andrew Checchia
Pasadena Weekly Contributing Writer
The Exercise Coach, a national fitness chain that combines AI-driven equipment and personal training, opened its first franchise in San Marino May 5.
The location brings the brand’s signature 20-minute workouts to the area as part of the brand’s push to enter the West Coast market.
The Exercise Coach’s workout regimen aims to provide a more efficient and personalized workout than traditional gyms. When customers make their first appointment, they are taken around the studio to perform a series of benchmark tests on computerized workout machines.
These machines register a user’s baseline.
According to Peter Young, owner of the San Marino franchise, the equipment processes the client’s data and establishes a profile for the user.
After finding an optimal resistance, users then build their strength while not overextending their muscles or range of motion. Alongside visual feedback on the machine’s screens, this means during biweekly 20-minute workout sessions, customers can be confident they won’t injure themselves or find their fitness progress stagnating.
“It’s very straightforward,” Young said. “If you think about it, it’s simple, but it’s tremendously powerful. It combines all the latest high-tech features with some artificial intelligence. Some people are overwhelmed or intimidated by the equipment in a regular gym. Here, people just need to come and give their best effort.”
A personal trainer guides customers through the session. These trainers can make further adjustments based on users’ individual concerns, be it previous injuries, new goals or general preferences. The trainers provide a personal touch in a studio full of large, austere screen-laden machines.
“The progression becomes much more linear and consistent rather than you not knowing,” Young said. “With the screens and getting that instantaneous feedback, it’s motivating. People like to know where they are. They can make adjustments based on the targets that are set for them so they can get the maximum results. That adds to the whole efficiency profile.”
Efficiency is the name of the game, especially as the Exercise Coach enters an extremely competitive LA market. Young hopes the combination of personal attention and new technology will help his franchise stand out against competitors like Orangetheory Fitness. He remains confident about the brand’s California expansion and plans to open other franchises, with concrete plans for at least one more in Studio City.
“I’m very impressed with the franchisor,” Young said. “They are very thorough. They are very deliberate. They are building to scale before they start to scale. In order to be successful, that’s really important.”
Young, who has spent years in the business world, most recently sold a manufacturing company he worked with for 17 years. He took it from local to national.
“I decided I wanted to continue to do something,” said Young about his new fitness venture. “I wanted to do something where I could have a positive effect on people and make a difference in people’s lives.”
Thinking about making a difference in the surrounding community, Young also stressed the new location’s COVID-19 safety precautions — even as LA moves closer to an end on its pandemic restrictions.
He stressed the studio’s high ceilings, space for distancing and renovated HVAC system, replete with brand new filtration. The measures are meant to give people confidence as they emerge from pandemic isolation, given many haven’t worked out in a public setting for over a year. That confidence may be especially important to The Exercise Coach’s older demographic, which generally services 40- to 80-year-old professionals. But the studio’s conscious efforts and the limited number of customers in the same place at the same time made Young’s COVID-19-proofing job a matter of principle as much as precaution.
“I made a number of decisions when I was looking at real estate. I wanted to have enough space and enough volume where there was no sense of close or closeness,” Young said.
“The important thing is, we’re in compliance with all the LA County requirements. I’ve invested in completely redoing the ventilation systems. The timing [of the opening] happened to fit very nicely with the twilight of the pandemic.”
With safety measures in place and restrictions laxed, Young hopes to introduce the Pasadena-area to this new form of personalized, machine-driven workouts. To do so, the studio is running a promotion now through June 19 for two complimentary, obligation-free promotional sessions to give interested customers a chance to get a feel for The Exercise Coach’s alternative workout program.
“All we ask is that you show up with a little bit of curiosity and a desire to improve your fitness,” Young said.