Gym Social is a concept that was created by the Coop for Outdoor fitness (Coop d’Entraînement en Plein Air – CEPA), a startup company currently incubated at the Centre for technological entrepreneurship (Centre de l’entrepreneurship technologique – Centech) of the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), in Montréal. The company designs and markets equipment and fitness programs for outdoor fitness. It was created in 2014 by social entrepreneurs Rafael Murillo Sterling, PDG, Fernando Saturno, Executive Vice-president, and Jean Cauchon, technical Director.
Gym Social: The birth of an idea
Rafael and Fernando spent their youth training outdoors in Venezuelan parks. According to them, sports training and outdoors go hand in hand: why train indoors when it can be done outdoors? This concept of outdoor training started in Japan. For example, on the Okinawa island, nicknamed the island of centenarians, the elderly do a lot of outdoor exercise, one of the secrets of their longevity.
When they arrived in Quebec, Fernando and Rafael thought they could continue their workouts in parks, but the only equipment they found there was for children. To solve this problem, they found equipment for outdoor fitness, manufactured in Asian countries. However, these did not meet North American safety standards, and were not adapted to the North American climate. Since there was no equipment designed for outdoor fitness, they decided to join forces to design them. Their target customer is the community in general: from the children to the elderly.
Birth of a Technological Coop Business
For these social entrepreneurs, the community has always represented an important value, such as the yuimahru, an expression from a Japanese dialect that refers to the spirit of mutual support, which is an essential value for the people of Okinawa. For Rafael and Fernando, this spirit is necessary for people of all ages to support and encourage each other in doing regular exercise, to keep fit and age in good health. The technological coop concept was well suited to the corporate image they wished to create. Looking for a designer, they met Jean Cauchon, who became the third founding member of the Coop for outdoor training. Together, they wish to come up with a formula where people who are interested could become members of the cooperative and benefit from the advantages associated with outdoor fitness.
Gym Social: Outdoor fitness Equipment and Training Programs
CEPA designs specialized equipment for outdoor training. In addition, the organization transforms a given space into an innovative circuit for outdoor fitness.
The target customers of Gym Social are municipalities, the public sector (education, health and other), and the private sector. They offer customers two approaches: a customized approach, and a product-driven approach.
Gym Social: Customized, and Product-Driven Approaches
They designed four fitness apparatus that were inspired by nature, to offer customers a fitness circuit that can meet both the needs of those who are used to regular training, and those who train on a more irregular basis. Each fitness station is equipped with panels offering a personalized training program for beginners, intermediate and advanced and the method of use of the selected device.
Designed to withstand cold, ice, salt, rust and heat, the devices require very little maintenance. They are safe to use and built to withstand vandalism.
The equipment even exceeds the CSA CAN Z614 Canadian standard. The founders of CEPA plan to approach the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), offering them to participate in updating this standard, currently targeted to general structures presently found in the parks.
They also offer their customers a turnkey product:
- Customer needs analysis, and equipment recommendations;
- Design and manufacture of custom equipment, facilities, and outdoor gyms; and
- Kinesiology assistance for the creation of customized training programs.
Eco-elliptical Outdoor fitness equipment
This device gives an almost complete exercising experience, involving movement in the lower and upper body, together with an upward and downward motion of the legs.
An ingenious drive mechanism was created to function with no risk of damage from rust, salt, ice, or dust. This equipment is under patent application.
Multi-X Outdoor fitness equipment
This unit combines four training devices in one, allowing several people to train simultaneously.
Step-Up Outdoor fitness equipment
This three-level device is designed for jumping, to strengthen the lower body. Its form is inspired by flower petals.
Equistable Outdoor Fitness Station
This device, designed for older people, serves to rotate the pelvis, and achieve better stability.
Research and Development
For CEPA, to be part of Centech has a specific purpose: the founders want to develop, with the help of the ÉTS scientific community, an energy recovery system produced during training. Their mentor is Professor Kamal-Al-Haddad, Director of the Power Electronics and Industrial Control Research Group (GRÉPCI), and Holder of the Canada Research Chair on Electrical Energy Conversion and Power Electronics.
To be continued, in Substance ÉTS!