The Technology of Keeping Fit

In preparation for Thanksgiving and the holidays, the Cape Cod Technology Council’s November First Friday Breakfast speaker was Tim Calise, of Koko FitClub.

Koko FitClub is a digital gym founded by husband-wife Cape Cod team Mike Lannon and Mary Obana. There are now 130 locations in 30 states, four of which are on Cape Cod.

Calise describes Koko as a technology company that has revolutionized the way people look at fitness. “We use technology to make it easy for people to adhere to an exercise and nutrition regimen,” Calise said. The idea is that with new tools come new behaviors and new outcomes.

Before Koko (which came before FitBit), gyms and trainers had been using the same tools since the ’80s, Calise said. Technology had become such a big part of our lives, it seemed there must be an application to approach better health. The founders were outsiders to the fitness industry, which gave them a fresh perspective and no preconceived ideas about how a gym has to work.

Where FitBit is reactive, Calise said, Koko is proactive. Koko has a nationally recognized technology concept reinventing how people approach, improve, and manage their health. It is Windows CE based, with custom software and hardware. Calise calls it the marriage of fitness and technology.

The digital gym
Koko Smart Trainer uses a Koko key that has everything gym members need to complete their customized programs. The screen shows what exercise to do, how to do it, and at what pace. “Everything is programmed down to a tenth of a second,” Calise said. Personal Koko keys can be used at any of the locations.

A fitness baseline is established by body composition analysis and a strength assessment, and is re-assessed once a month. After being analyzed, club members are given a plan developed with Koko’s fitness technology. This plan is stored on the Koko key, along with all data. It shows progress and tracks how much has been done over time.

“The program is all about doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, in the right sequence,” Calise said.

Ideally Koko FitClub recommends strength training three times a week and cardio three to five days a week. “If all you have is one day a week, they will meet you where you are,” Calise said. “It needs to be accessible or it doesn’t work.” To make it accessible, Koko FitClubs are open 24 hours a day.

Koko FitClub started as a completely digital gym, taking the trainer out of the equation. What they found was that some people value having a coach working with them. Personal coaching still leverages all the digital information.

Calise says they keep people motivated by providing a sense of community. “I go to Koko because Koko is a part of who I am,” he explained. The clubs do things beyond what you expect at a gym, including wine and cheese gatherings. About 80% sign up after the trial month. 18% of Koko’s members leave after a year, as opposed to 50-70% regular gyms.

Koko also does meal planning if that is of interest. The 21 Day Restore program is especially popular in January and February.

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