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YMCA works to make wellness easy
ActivTrax creates custom fitness programs
Jessie Brown, right, gets familiar with exercise equipment Monday afternoon at the J.A. Walters YMCA with help from personal trainer Emily Young. Brown is using ActivTrax, which charts a workout tailored to them via a kiosk inside the gym or through a smart phone app.

Change is hard.

Staff members at the J.A. Walters YMCA in Gainesville have found that to be the case in more ways than one.

Staff members worked Monday signing up new members, and crowds showed up early on what was an observed New Year’s Day holiday.

Fitness instructor Emily Young worried some may start too strong.

“I feel like they might stop coming. They might turn away because they’re going to get sore; they’re going to get tired,” she said.

Stretching and recovery time are key to staying on track, she said.

As new members focused on their new wellness goals, Greg Supianoski, vice president of operations at the Y, talked excitedly on the second day of 2017 about software called ActivTrax, which is available to help members meet those goals.

The YMCA rolled out wellness programs about this time last year including medical assessments for injury evaluation, nutritional counseling, massage therapy, physical therapy and post-rehab. Not all of those took off. Staff hope to continue massage therapy but are currently without a therapist. Other programs like physical therapy were discontinued.

Supianoski said ActivTrax, which debuted Nov. 1, makes it easier for the Y to tailor some of those services to its members on a larger scale. Instead of paying for a one-on-one with the staff nutritionist, a member can track what they eat and the software can make suggestions based on the person’s goals.

“We’re really impacting the community in a larger scale,” Supianoski said.

The software also can recommend a routine on the facility’s many workout machines, based on the person’s stated goals.

As with exercise, it takes some getting used to. Young said some of those used to the old system at the Y had a hard time adjusting to the technology.

“Usually after people try it for about a week or two weeks, most of them seem to really like it,” she said.

Member Anthony Birch said he is using ActivTrax mainly because the Y replaced the old system.

“But then I discovered that it’s very useful,” Birch said Monday, standing at the kiosk nestled among the workout machinery. “It’s quite different than the other one. ...  It’s much better than the old system.”

Birch held a sheet of information about his last workout — repetitions and specific exercises. This time, the machine spit out a different workout routine.

“What it does is it creates a fitness program for you,” he said. “And you set your goals and every workout is different. ...The multiple workouts, the variety is much better.”

Birch said he hasn’t used the diet part of the program but called it “intriguing.”

The goal of ActivTrax, Supianoski said, is to help Y members meet their own goals. Birch set goals for strength.

New member Jessie Brown, who has been to the Y almost every day since joining last week, said she wants to “lose a little bit of weight and tone up.” She admitted the incentives, like Y bucks that can be applied to her membership costs, helped convince her to do an ActivTrax orientation with Young on Monday.

“What we’ve found is that folks who’ve been members for three, four, five, six, seven years are doing things they’ve never done before because they didn’t know what this device did or how much they should do,” Supianoski said.

Young noted point challenges also pushed people inside the Y’s doors. There was no trophy for reaching last month’s 3,000-point goal, just a printout on the wall with those who met the goal.

“They were in here every day, trying to get those points,” Young said.