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The gym goes Zen: FitClub Columbine opens state-of-the-art facility in Littleton

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By Chris Ferguson

The first thing visitors will notice when they walk into Koko FitClub Columbine is the absence of pumping, loud music and the lack of mirrors. Instead, visitors are greeting with quiet pop music, serene colors and gentle lighting.

“It’s the world’s first and only automated personal training studio,” Koko FitClub owner Alex Keller said. “It’s a fusion of technology and exercise and makes exercise accessible for people who have trouble, for different reasons, maintaining an exercise program.”

Users start their daily workout by standing on an advanced body-composition scale, which measures what Koko FitClub calls your “EBMI,” or enhanced body mass index. New users then begin by getting a baseline of their strength and conditioning. Then, the Koko system customizes a program to that user’s fitness needs.

The exercise equipment, called Smart Trainers, are large all-in-one machines that provide about 100 exercises. The Smart Trainers have small, movable screens on a boom that show users which exercise they need to do, proper form, and proper pacing. The club also has advanced treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes. 

“The machines guide users through exercise. So, when you’re a member, you choose a specific program, depending on what your goals are, and it’s loaded onto a Koko Key, which is a flash drive. So when you come in, you plug in and go,” Keller said. 

“It will give you a customized workout,” said manager Janette Hoskinson. “It controls your pace, it counts your reps, it does everything for you. So you have to make sure you’re in good form and are here exercising. But it will rack how much weight you have lifted, how many reps you’ve done.”

Users follow pacing on screen and are rewarded with through a scoring system; those who excel receive different colored lanyards, like a martial-arts belt system.

“The beauty is there’s a lot of quantitative feedback to help motivate you and keep you excited about working out,” Keller said. 

The system “keeps adjusting to your gains and progress,” Hoskinson said. “Where someone in a regular gym may not know to increase weight or reps, they level off. This will keep you moving forward toward your goal.” 

For exercisers who despise running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike, Koko provides MP3 players that play fun and motivational talks by the company’s chief fitness officer, Michael Wood. Wood’s commentary is also changed up seasonally.

Workouts are designed to take 30 minutes on the Smart Trainers and 15 minutes of cardio. For each workout, the system tracks how much weight a user has lifted, how many calories he or she has burned, and total workout time. Users can track their goals and progress on an advanced website.

Keller plans to open a total of five clubs on the western side of Denver. He plans to open a location in Ken Caryl in 2013, and is eyeing locations near Southwest Plaza, Green Mountain and Belmar.

The business is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. However, members can access the clubs 24 hours a day, year round. The business is offering complimentary initial sessions.

Chris Ferguson is a news editor for Evergreen Newspapers. E-mail story tips to chris@evergreenco.com.