Written by Barb Consiglio.
Ten years ago, after seeing a man in a wheelchair struggle to use weight machines at a gym, Ryan Eder designed fitness equipment that worked for everyone, regardless of size, age or ability. His idea won Gold, Best in Show and People’s Choice accolades in the Industrial Designers Society of America’s International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) in 2007. Since then, Eder’s Cincinnati-based company, Include Fitness, has completely revamped its offering and added an intuitive cloud-based platform to help people deliver care more effectively and efficiently.
Include Fitness’ new digital health platform was honored by IDEA once again in 2016, this time with Gold, Best in Show and Design for Equality Awards. Each year, about 1,700 entries from more than 30 countries are considered for the awards. Companies such as Apple, Nike and Tesla have won in previous years, but Include Fitness is the first company to ever rise above the competition twice.
“I developed the original concept when I was a senior at the University of Cincinnati,” said Eder. “So to see the past ten years of hard work recognized again with this prestigious award, it validates what we’ve been focused on for the past decade, and helps us to know we’re growing in the right direction. The underlying goal is the same, but we’ve changed virtually everything about our product.”
Include Fitness’ new strength training machine, The Access Strength, features electric dials to select weight, along with dexterity-free handles for adjustment areas such as seat position to adapt the equipment to any user. The Access Strength is designed to work with The IFCloud, a platform that keeps track of exercises, results, workouts and progress that can be accessed on any computer or tablet. This is especially helpful for rehab or physical therapy patients who often work with several entities, such as hospitals, outpatient facilities and community centers. Patients can use The Access Strength in any facility, and their data will upload to their IFCloud account for seamless collaboration.
“Patients often leave the hospital with photocopied illustrations of a few exercises and have no further guidance when working to heal and get stronger,” said Eder. “The IFCloud goes with them to any location that has our equipment, like a physical therapist’s office or a YMCA. They continually build on their progress and can see charts and data that tell them exactly how they’re doing at any point.”
Include Fitness also uses the data from patients’ IFCloud accounts to drive efficiencies in the outpatient process and lower healthcare costs. It shows what is working well for certain demographics, facilities and collaborating healthcare organizations. The results are communicated to Include Fitness customers to help them improve operations.
When Eder developed the idea for Include Fitness as a student at UC, he was awarded a grant from CincyTech, a southwest Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier. Eder worked with the network of entrepreneurs at CincyTech, Linkage, Accelerant and the Ohio Tech Angels who helped him take the company from an idea on paper to where it is today. Include Fitness will begin shipping its revamped offering, The IF Platform, to customers in 2017.
“Organizations in Ohio believed in my vision when I still needed help developing a business plan,” said Eder. “Now I have the opportunity to speak with people whose lives have been changed by our platform, and that’s what drives me forward.”