It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. When self-described tech enthusiast and Excy co-founder, Michele Mehl, experienced chest pain as a young mother after gaining some weight, she promptly realized she had to take control over her health. There was a family history to consider – and her symptoms and sedentary desk job as a business owner worried her (sitting is the new smoking after all). As she came to accept that she would only exercise if it was beyond convenient, she set out to build a prototype of portable exercise bike designed to get her heart pumping without disrupting her schedule.
This prototype would eventually become the first iteration of Excy.
Shortly thereafter, Mehl broke her leg badly. She was now immobile with multiple screws, a plate and a metal rod, followed by the news of a DVT blood clot. This complicated her recovery. All signs pointed to a real and pressing need to exercise more, but she was non-weight bearing and laid up on the couch or in bed.
Mehl began to consider how her existing prototype could be scaled for versatility – and brought to more users. She began using the existing prototype as an upper body ergometer (great benefits for cardiac health) and also managed the rehab of her leg with the assistance of a physical therapist. She then launched a successful Kickstarter with a total body upper and lower body cycling device designed for anyone to use easily from home, work or on the go. One that would match the capabilities of multiple pieces of huge equipment, but in one small portable device that folds for easy storage and transport.
The full body cycling device is now used in hospitals like Stanford, physical therapy clinics throughout the US, and by hundreds of customers for home exercise. User scenarios range from helping people exercise in bed, while sitting on the couch and watching television, but also through medical conditions and injuries where access to exercise is critical. With 2-70 pounds of bi-directional resistance, the device can be pedaled leisurely or vigorously and is designed to accommodate the exercise needs of the entire family. This includes parents who are too busy for go for a run while winding down with kids at night, but also by kids who can benefit from exercise breaks while doing homework, especially if they have ADD and ADHD.
“Overall, as a society we tend to be relatively sedentary. Making time for an exercise routine that is effective for our individual needs is hard. If people have mobility challenges, this problem is compounded."
In addition, Excy has profound implications for how we engage the process of aging. Now, as baby boomers age, they are more likely to feel disempowered because of a medical condition. Creating an effective routine and sticking to it is generally undermined by logistical problems. How can a person with a Parkinsonian tremor frequently get to a class that would have tremendous benefit in slowing the neuro-generative progress of the disease?
Mehl explains that upon a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis (or MS, or Alzheimer’s) physical therapy and exercise are prescribed. However, staying compliant is difficult for a patient who may feel like a burden to a loved one. Physical therapy compliance rates hover around just 30/40 percent – robbing patients of precious quality of life. Boxing classes, yoga class and the rest do tend to be offsite. Patients save their favors for more emergent asks – rides to medical appointments, the pharmacy, and such. In addition, patients who exercise are less likely to become depressed.
This creates an ironic vicious cycle wherein one of the most effective forms of treatment becomes the least accessible one. Excy provides a sustainable exercise program. When using Excy, patients can peddle independently or can follow along with a digital remote class (live and/or similar to Peloton – or Jane Fonda workouts).
Excy signals nothing less than a paradigm shift in how we incorporate frequent exercise into our lives as we face the challenges that inevitably accompany aging.
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