New Raleigh high-tech gym touts small capacity, computer-driven workouts amid COVID-19 pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gyms were hit hard during the pandemic.

Government concerns over a lot of people breathing heavily and touching dozens of surfaces, meant a total shutdown of gyms for months.

A Raleigh husband and wife are taking advantage of those concerns to tout their new franchise of The Exercise Coach in North Hills and attract new members like Gentry Hoffman of Raleigh.

"I feel safe," Hoffman told ABC11 noting The Exercise Coach's sanitizing practices.

The studio has only nine pieces of equipment so it's easy to clean after each use.

Prior to the pandemic Hoffman was a member of a traditional gym.

"I had been looking for a way to get back into the gym," Hoffman said. "I was a member of a larger gym before the pandemic, and I didn't feel as comfortable going back to that environment."

One of Hoffman's concerns was lots of people working out, breathing heavy and putting out a lot of aerosol.

That's not a problem at The Exercise Coach where the capacity is three members, allowing for social distancing at all times.

That was one of the main sells for Hoffman.

"I like the fact that it is a smaller gym so there's less people in here," Hoffman said.

She was also sold on the high-tech equipment.

It uses mechanical resistance, is computer controlled and analyzes members' workouts, according to the owner of The Exercise Coach, Elizabeth Girouard.

"It customizes to the ability of each individual, regardless of their fitness level or their age," said Girouard.

Girouard and her husband bought the franchise right before the pandemic started.

But Girouard says they never worried because they knew the business model would not only be attractive because of the of the small studio size but also because of the efficiency of the computer based workout.

"We pair the high-tech strength training with very low duration but high intensity cardio as well. And those combined provide the client with a whole body workout that's effective and efficient and only 20 minutes two times a week," Girouard said.

And that fits well with the busy schedule of an engineer who is mom to two teens Hoffman noted saying, "This has been perfect for me."

Hoffman says she saw an ad for The Exercise Coach on Facebook and took the Girouard's up on their offer of two free trial sessions.

And, so far, she's glad she did.

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