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Lance Armstrong's Trainer Direct to Your MembersSort Of.

Ask any of your club members if they would like to receive fitness coaching from the personal trainer of Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, and chances are you will get an enthusiastic “yes!”

Now, Chris Carmichael, whose training method helped Armstrong regain his strength and endurance after a successful battle against cancer, has partnered his company, Carmichael Training Systems (CTS), with Nevada-based Computer Screening Inc. (CSI) to bring training improvement programs directly to fitness facilities.

“We have been asked by lots of different health clubs to offer [our] coaching in clubs, and this is the first entry point,” Carmichael said. “We know there is excitement in clubs [about this new program].”

For a fee, CSI supplies the club with a high-tech Internet kiosk, which is similar to those often seen in pharmacies and other retail establishments. At the kiosk, members can check their weight, blood pressure and other vitals. Members then log on to the CTS Web site and work directly with a personal fitness coach. Coaches are certified through CTS and are trained to help members reach their goals, whether their desire is to shed pounds or run a marathon.

“We think [clubs] can turn this into a great member retention program,” says Charles R. Sullivan, executive VP of CSI. “It could also become a cash generator for the club.”

According to Sullivan, this is because clubs have plenty of options when it comes to integrating the system into their facility's programming. Clubs can elect to charge members a fee to use the kiosk or they can incorporate the cost into the joining fees and monthly dues. In addition, the kiosk has a backlit display, which opens up an opportunity for clubs to sell advertising space to local fitness-related business.

Additionally, CTS and CSI said that this new offering is designed to add value to the club membership, as well as reinforcing club members' commitment to fitness by getting them involved in an individualized training program.

When a new client signs on with CTS, Carmichael said, their coach starts off by asking about the individual's health and exercise history, current health, fitness goals, and the amount of time he or she is willing to dedicate to the program on a weekly basis. Next, the client participates in a field test that gives the coach an idea of the client's current level. Based on the results, the coach develops a month-long plan for the client. And because the client is consistently checking in with the coach, the plan can be modified on a daily basis depending on how well the client is adapting to the program.

“What we do is follow the same training methodology used with top athletes,” Carmichael said. “We individualize to {the client}.”

Though the automatic assumption could be that using the CTS program in a club would compete with the personal training staff, the idea is for the two programs to work in conjunction with each other, according to the company. Trainers at a gym, for example, can help members use the kiosk and work with them on the fitness plan provided by their personal CTS coach. It also provides members with an easy way to track their results. Instead of keeping track of progress on a paper chart, members use a Web-based program, allowing them to log on to the CTS Web site and“meet” regularly with their CTS coach by using the direct dial phone attached to the kiosk.

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