ARCHIVED - The Technological Trainer
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MyTrak Health Systems Inc.
April 26, 2007— Ottawa, Ontario
When people work up a sweat pumping iron at the gym, it might not seem like a high tech moment. But technology can make that sweat worthwhile, letting individuals know if they are doing themselves any good, how they could do better, and whether they are making the most of their exercise program.
For Reed Hanoun, it's all about information intelligence, the kind of feedback you get from a good coach or personal trainer. That kind of help can be hard to find without spending upwards of $70 per hour on personal trainer, which is why he developed a sophisticated electronic approach to this service.
Hanoun's Mississauga-based company, MYTRAK Health System Inc., offers a combination of hardware and software that puts going to the gym in an entirely new light. Users wear a unique ID band that identifies them while exercising; when activated, it downloads a user-specific body signature profile to each exercise station in their training program. This profile is packed with information about their health, their diet, their previous workout regime, and their overall fitness goals.
The band interacts directly with specific pieces of equipment, such as a stationary cycle, weight stack, and hydraulic or circuit equipment. Based on factors such as the user's age, active heart rate, fitness level and desired fitness goals and workout intensity, the machine can flash red, yellow, or green lights, indicating whether the activity level is too heavy, too light, or just right based on the desired goals.
"Because we understand the user's objectives, and because we understand each exercise machine that MYTRAK attaches to, we recognize the muscles that are impacted by every single machine the user exercises on," says Hanoun. "At the end of a workout, we consolidate the energy, the range of motion, weight lifted, reps and instantly calculate the muscle physical capacity. We can determine muscle imbalances, we can look at energy distribution along the whole body, we can provide the user with a great deal of data and training analysis based on the user's workouts."
These details are stored and tabulated on a computer server, which then e-mails the user a report on the day's workout. Optionally, the user can log onto MYTRAK's website and review the results from home.
Hanoun, who has more than 15 years' worth of experience in developing electronic medical devices, began working on the concept for MYTRAK about three years ago. His initial efforts were helped by the National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), which provides a range of both technical and business oriented advisory services along with potential financial support to growth-oriented small and medium-sized Canadian enterprises. Delivered by an extensive integrated network of Industrial Technology Advisors (ITAs) — a group of some 260 professionals in 100 communities across the country — NRC-IRAP supports innovative research, development, and commercialization of new products and services.
For MYTRAK, this support was crucial to enable the company to hire skilled talent — including software architects and design engineers — who turned this good idea into a marketable commodity.
"It was essential that NRC-IRAP was part of this project," says Hanoun, recalling this vitally important research phase. "They were the catalyst that accelerated this project."
Since it entered the marketplace in 2005, he adds, interest in MYTRAK has grown amongst gym operators who want to find a way to keep their clientele coming back, and employers who may be paying for gym memberships and want to know if they are getting their money's worth.
And that interest is bound to grow, now that MYTRAK has won a contract with the giant fitness centre chain Curves, which has some 10,000 locations worldwide. For Hanoun, that milestone is a satisfying confirmation that his company has not only tapped into the widespread acknowledgement that exercise is a key to good health, but made it possible for people to improve the way they exercise.
"It's a full lifestyle management solution for an individual," he says, noting that MYTRAK can even offer meal planning input. "It's watching out for you, no matter what you do."
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