Numbers show more and more Americans are turning to technology for help staying healthy and losing weight. Mobile step and calorie counters, fitness apps and wearable technology such as Fitbits are more popular than ever. With the season of holiday overindulgence underway, WYSO’s Jerry Kenney tested one of the newest fitness trends to hit the Miami Valley. It’s a health-club machine that harnesses the power of 3D technology.
It's a simple idea, says Frequency Fitness gym owner and personal trainer Ben Heal.
"The last thing you want to do, when it comes down to structuring your body, is to get six months, eight months, one year into a program and not know what it's doing to you until it's too late, and then you have to reverse those conditions," he says.
Freq Fit is a relatively new personal training facility in Kettering. The gym has everything you’d expect: free weights, treadmills, step climbers and other weight machines.
The gym has another piece of equipment that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else - a 3D body imaging scanner.
The machine has many moving parts. A revolving platform connects to a slim tower, housing a sliding camera that trainers use to map the topography of your body. The camera records hundreds of measurements as you stand on the platform.
I give it a try. The machine whirs as it measures my body at more than 240 points to generate a 3D avatar image.
Heal says comparing multiple scans over time is an excellent way to gauge progress in losing weight or getting fit.
The scan takes about 40 seconds to complete. It takes another 15 minutes or so to compile all that information and send a report to your smartphone or laptop.
Loggin in, I see those numbers and a very detailed image of my body from all sides.
Scanner subjects have the option to decide whether to give fitness trainers access to the scan-generated report and images.
I click the button to give Heal access. But I admit, the image is jarring. I'm pretty embarrassed. Heal says he gets that reaction a lot.
For many people, the thought of seeing their bodies replicated on a computer screen is intimidating. It can even be depressing.
“What you have to be careful of is letting those thoughts or feelings creep into your head, that you don’t look good or that you're not good enough. You have to have a realistic outlook on your physicality and if there's things that you want to change you should address that with a physician or a trainer who can help you make those changes in a healthy manner,” Heal says.
And that’s what the 3D scanner is designed to do, he says: arm people with more accurate information so they can make faster progress toward their fitness goals.
The 3D scanner provides a level of detail most people would never have had access to before. Heal says it's helping him better address his gym clients' particular needs.
“In the past it would take me about 15 to 20 minutes to measure you, and I would have to pinch you with the calipers and measure you with the tape, and at that we’re only taking 18 total measurements, and the accuracy varies from trainer to trainer," he says. "This is 100 percent accurate.”
Heal says body imaging scanners also provide a new pathway for physicians and fitness trainers to work more closely together. At least one Dayton-area chiropractor is already sending patients to him for body imaging scans that could reveal posture and balance analysis.
Heal says he's also working to provide Miami Valley sports teams with information on player fitness, and precise measurements for ordering team uniforms.
So far, Freq Fit is one of the few places in the Dayton region that offers professional 3D body scanning. There are a number of personal in-home scanners available on the market, although they utilize fewer data points, so the images may provide less detail.
Industry numbers are hard to come by but there’s evidence the 3D scanners are part of a growing global trend.
Company Fit3D reports selling hundreds of ProScanners in the last two years, with an estimated 200,000 people in 37 countries so far taking 3D scans.