Pumping Iron With A Digital Friend

BY DEFINITION, WORKING OUT is never easy. But a new system could make it a little less boring. FitLinxx, made by Integrated Fitness Corp. in Stamford, Conn., gives users of weight-stack machines feedback to help them track their progress. Keith Camhi, the startup's co-founder, says he got the idea as a grad student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology: To track his workouts, he used to manually record the data in a spreadsheet at home.

FitLinxx uses a gadget called Training Partner, a sleek, black tablet that can be mounted on most weight machines. Based on a 486SLC processor, Training Partner coaches users on how much to lift and has optical sensors to see if they're doing it correctly. It's also linked to a central server in the club that runs Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT and stores data for analysis. Club members can check their progress by consulting touch-screen kiosks that create graphs and printed reports.

Camhi already has a number of high-profile endorsements, including the New York Knicks, where trainer Greg Brittenham uses the setup to monitor players' workouts, and Universal Gym Equipment Inc. Camhi says FitLinxx will keep health-club members coming back, so gyms can cut the industry's 38% annual dropout rate.

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