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RFID Pumps Up Women's Workouts

Curves International has introduced an automated personal-training system that gives the fitness company a competitive advantage.
By Marty Weil
Nov 17, 2008Curves International, based in Waco, Texas, is one of the largest fitness center franchises in the world, with more than 10,000 clubs located in 60 countries. The company, created specifically for women, is known for its innovative 30-minute circuit workout. In July 2007, the firm introduced CurvesSmart, an RFID-based system designed to provide members with personal and immediate feedback during training. An electronic device containing an RFID interrogator is mounted on each piece of equipment in the circuit, and members wear RFID-embedded wristbands to activate the system.

"Being a leader in the health and fitness industry, we realized that we needed to change, innovate and increase what members can get from their workouts," says Katie Mitchell, a research assistant and CurvesSmart trainer with Curves International's continuing education and research department. "The system is meant to motivate and challenge users to maintain an exertion level that is safe. It guarantees maximum benefit based on the user's unique body signature."

An electronic device containing an RFID interrogator is mounted on each piece of equipment in the circuit.

The system was developed by MyTrak Health System, an Ontario, Canada, company specializing in automated health-management solutions for fitness and rehabilitation centers. "Curves' founder, Gary Heavin, wanted to deploy a monitoring and accountability system in our clubs that would recognize each member individually," Mitchell says, adding that Curves was looking into developing a system based on RFID technology. "We knew we needed a simple tag that our members could easily carry with them during the workout, and RFID tags seemed well suited to our requirements."

Before a member can utilize the system, she is given a fitness test. Upon registering at the kiosk, she is issued a wristband, the tag ID of which is linked with her member information in the CurvesSmart database.

Then the company learned about MyTrak's system, Mitchell says. "It didn't make sense for us to reinvent the wheel," she states. Curves International branded the personal-coaching system CurvesSmart, and has rolled it out to roughly 3,500 facilities to date.

"It definitely gives us a competitive edge to other clubs in surrounding areas," Mitchell says. "No one else has this technology in their clubs, and that is exciting for our franchisees. We're already beginning to see an increase in membership as a direct result of this system."
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