When it comes to Five Towns fitness, I’ve tried it all!
I was a member at some point of Club Central, New York Sportsclub and Life Fitness where I had to motivate myself 3–4 times a week to hit the treadmill and take classes. Often I found after a month or two boredom set in and my motivation drop. The classes, some were great, others made me feel like a number and always less fit, less flexible, less in shape than everyone else. But the monthly fee was low and it was better than nothing.
One year I was lucky enough to join PTI, a personal training center where for a high monthly fee you get 3 30 minute one-on-one sessions. I justified the extra cost by quitting my regular gym and telling my husband all this working out will keep me from lunching and spending in other areas. I loved that I had no choice but to show up those 3 days a week, or else I had a trainer waiting and mad. And you didn’t want to mess with some of these trainers.
Then I discovered Warren Levi Karate. I heard their bootcamp classes were insane and since they needed a website, and PTI was closing, I worked out a deal and gave Warren a shot. This move eventually turned into a 3 year (and counting) addiction that has changed my body and my life. The intimate small classes that marry cardio and strength in creative and entertaining ways has kept my Fitness ADD in line. You get to know your Sensei and he gets to know you. It’s the best of both worlds for me since not showing up feels like not showing up to a personal training session. When my husband started doing Insanity at home, a popular intense fitness video, I told him that Bootcamp is exactly like Insanity. The only drawback is the lack of cardio equipment for the days I don’t do classes, and of course it’s not cheap. (However I heard that they plan on getting cardio equipment in their new location, a move I think is brilliant.)
So when Koko Fitclub, a new local fitness center that claims they have new technical twist on fitness, offered to hook me up with a 3 months trial, I decided to try it out. (In conjunction of course with Warren Levi) I was curious about what makes this different than a regular gym and can it really take the place of a personal trainer since they have something called “smart training” which eliminates trainers but still gives you a personalized experience.
My first impression the day I signed up was how modern and pretty the place was. I loved the bamboo decor and the colors (orange and brown) felt very natural. The place isn’t so big, but since each machine does dozens of exercises it doesn’t have to be. I got my welcome package which included a water bottle, t-shirt, set of headphones and Koko Key in a bright orange Koko bag.
The Koko key is literally the key everything here. You use it to enter the facility when they are closed, a concept I found extremely appealing. I can go workout at 3am, or midnight if I please, with this key! In fact my very first session I arrived at 7:30am, before opening. I loved waving that key and unlocking the door. It felt like my own private club.
The key is used for the FitCheck machine, the strength machines and the cardio. It automatically tracks and reports your progress and performance during and after each session, plus it controls the strength training programs you are on. (Flashback of my New York Sportsclub days, trying to scribble the weight amount and how many reps I did myself, always losing motivation after 2–3 weeks.) So after telling them my goals they downloaded the right program for me onto my key and I was ready to go.
The first thing I did was remove my shoes and go on the FitcCheck machine. It does not weigh you…at least not in the traditional sense. Koko is very anti being focused on your weight. Instead it measures your EBMI which is your Enhanced Body Mass measurement. (Which means it calculates and tracks your body’s lean muscle level.) So it gives you a number and if your goal is to lose weight, you want to get that EBMI number down and your muscle weight up.
I started my first session with the strength machine.
I plugged in my key and it downloaded my program. There’s a pivoting screen that walks you through each exercise. It tells you how much weight you need and will beep if you mistakingly choose the wrong weight. It has an image that shows your movement and the goal is to stay within a certain point and it grades you based on how well you did. It even gives you koko points at the end of each session, a very good motivator for someone like me. Overall my session was much less intense than what I’m used to at bootcamp, but nevertheless, it was enjoyable, interesting and easy to follow. It wasn’t exactly like having a human personal trainer but it was a close second, plus I didn’t have to make boring small talk.
I then tried the cardio portion which did not impress me. For such an advanced fitness program, the cardio part is lacking. After you plug in your key it gives you instructions to plug in your headphones to an ipod that is Velcro’d onto the machine and you have to manually pick a program and listen to a voice give you instructions on what to do on your treadmill or elliptical. There’s no music, only a voice that tells you when to go faster and higher and gives you tips in between. I found myself daydreaming and then missing his instructions. Meanwhile the screen, wich has such potential…only shows exactly what the machine shows, how fast you are going and the time. After my first session I opted to use the cardio machines the traditional way, listening to music on my iphone and doing my own program. I’m still getting a great workout. I complained about this and was told Koko is very soon unrolling a cardio program equivalent to their fantastic strength program, utilizing that screen and allowing you to listen to music. I’m glad to hear that!
As of today I have been doing Koko in conjunction with Warren Levi for 3 weeks. I love the personalized website I got that tracks my progress. My EBMI has actually gone down 1 point too! And the strength sessions are getting more and more intense so much so that I actually feel sore. I’m loving the fact that I can come in at all hours. I’m loving how quiet it is there though as it gets more members that can change. I’m not impressed with the cardio portion, but I’m thrilled to have access to a treadmill since with Warren Levi I currently don’t. So far I think it’s the second best thing to getting a personal trainer and for under $100 a month, way way more affordable. For someone who loses motivation easily, who loves keeping track of progress and seeing results written out and who needs to have each exercise walked through, it’s a great solution.
I forgot to mention the Kokofuel part which is another cool service they just unrolled. Based on your program they create a customized meal plan to properly FUEL your body with proper nutrition. I printed out my plan and it looked doable and actually delicious, except I’m not in the mood right now to follow a meal plan. But I think it’s a great feature and saves you on nutritionist bills if you were the type to go to one.
So I have 2 more months to go and I’m really curious if my motivation remains, if my EBMI goes down further, if I get stronger, if this works for me. Will keep you posted as I progress!