Written by Jerred Ziegler.
Ryan Eder’s mission is to change the fitness and rehabilitation industry and make health accessible to everyone. He is founder and CEO of IncludeFitness, a company that provides specialized equipment and cloud-based software to create a complete workout solution for everyone, regardless of size, shape, age, mobility or fitness level.
Eder came up with the idea for IncludeFitness in 2006 when he noticed a man at the gym in a wheelchair who spent more time getting on and off the machines than he did exercising. After doing further research and contacting 200 workout facilities, Eder discovered that 90 percent of them didn’t have any kind of equipment for wheelchair users.
“I came to the realization that gyms in general were not accessible to many people,” said Eder. “Groups like seniors, disabled veterans, children, people with disabilities and the obese were really being excluded due to equipment restrictions.”
IncludeFitness’ The Access Strength is a specialized all-in-one strength trainer to work out both the upper and lower body. The software component is The IFCloud, a computer and tablet-based system that helps users remember their exercises, sets up The Access Strength for each user and even changes the weight settings automatically for each individual exercise. At the end of a workout, users are then able to check their fitness progress on The IFCloud.
“Once we created a machine that anyone could use, we realized that one of the most challenging things is knowing how much weight to lift, how many reps to do,” said Eder. “That’s why we created The IFCloud. It’s a library of exercises that you can download and customize.”
Support for IncludeFitness has not been confined to one region of Ohio, which is fitting considering Eder has spent most of his adult life living in different cities throughout the state. He first developed the idea for IncludeFitness while he was a student at the University of Cincinnati (UC), and continued work on the concept after graduation while he was living and working in Columbus.
“People in Ohio are connected and can open opportunities and doors really quickly,” said Eder. “There are a tremendous amount of resources in the state in manufacturing and metal fabrication, plus there is a sense of pride that just resonates throughout all of Ohio. People feel a responsibility to give back to the ecosystem that helped build your company.”
When Eder was ready to present his idea to investors, he pitched it at UC and received his first grant from CincyTech, followed by additional funding from Accelerant in Dayton and the Ohio TechAngels Fund in Columbus, all regional partners of Ohio Third Frontier. IncludeFitness’ manufacturing facilities and headquarters are based in Cincinnati and their engineering and software development are based in Columbus.
“That first funding from CincyTech came when the company was just an idea on paper. We used it to hire someone to make a business plan,” said Eder. “Once we were in the CincyTech network, we found the support we needed. For a tech company creating hardware, there are a lot of costs and hurdles to overcome. The mentoring CincyTech provided helped us formulate this company and got us to where we are today.”
IncludeFitness’ customers range from physical therapy/rehab facilities to senior living centers to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The company plans to start manufacturing the machines this fall and begin shipping them in early 2016. They will place a few machines locally in Ohio before distributing to a broader customer base.