Exercise machines aren’t just to help the strong get stronger

When you see an ad for a treadmill, elliptical machine, exercise bike or weights, the featured person is usually already fit. So, it might make sense that we see exercise equipment as intended for athletes who want to increase their training and not those living with an injury or health setback.

That’s a fitness industry disservice for which I apologize. The fitness industry needs to make the message clearer — exercise equipment is also critical for people with mobility and medical fitness challenges, whether permanent or temporary. 

Opening access to quality exercise while recovering from injury

I was on a walk with my dogs last week, and our five month old puppy clipped my ankle while wrestling with our older dog, sending me flying to the ground. Pretty convinced I tore my hamstring, I got to my feet and limped for about 100 yards. The pain quickly subsided and we managed to squeeze in a slow, one-mile walk (he’s lucky he’s cute).

During our now limited walk, I started thinking about a few new members of our Excy Family using Excy to recover from their mobility challenges: There’s the man who purchased an XCS 260 to hand cycle for pre-and post-op cardio before ankle replacement surgery. He’s also pedaling Excy with his healthy leg and will eventually use Excy to help rehab his ankle. Second, there’s a swimmer who recently purchased an XCS 260 to not lose all her upper body strength and cardio and to prepare for surgery on her leg. We also had a man with one of the worst ankle injuries I have ever seen. His ankle surgery required skin graft, months of physical therapy, and a difficult transition from the bed to eventually returning to full mobility. 

All of them are doing well with the Excy, retaining cardiovascular health, encouraging good blood flow, supporting their own mental health, and strengthening their immune systems.

Like a friend to the rescue at just the right time

It’s not only the injuries, it’s also the diagnosis of disease or a disability that can impede our fitness: The longtime marathon runner pedaling with Parkinson’s disease in his 80s who pedals Excy from bed and his couch. The former athlete and busy mom pedaling with MS and muscle spasticity. The 18-year-old karate black belt senior in high school who was diagnosed with POTS disease after getting COVID, but who can pedal while lying down and hopes to sit up soon to exercise in a chair. The bedridden senior with a TBI pedaling in a hospital bed. The hospital patient in the ICU pedaling with help from a rehab nurse. The kidney dialysis team who help patients pedal instead of being sedentary during a long process. The woman with cerebral palsy pedaling her arms from a wheelchair who is more homebound because of the pandemic.

The list goes on.

Mike and I both unfortunately, yet fortunately, have a small glimpse into the plight of our health conscious customers’ journeys. We started the company after I broke my leg and got a blood clot and turned to hand cycling to get my heart rate pumping during months of non-weight-bearing living. I also used Excy to rehab the broken leg and to this day, if I don’t pedal Excy consistently, my ankle and hip hurt, as my injury left me with a permanently crooked leg. Historically, Mike has used Excy to strengthen his back, but more recently to recover from colorectal cancer

Mike 7 weeks after laparoscopic surgery for colorectal cancer. He started pedaling Excy in the bed on day 6.
Excy Cycle Your Upper Body to Sculpt Arms with an injury
Our original version when I used Excy to pedal my arms with a broken leg and blood clot. This was my go-to position.

Always ready when your mind, body, and spirit need a boost

What I realized during my walk is that Mike and I, as well as most of our customers, are unapologetically not normal when it comes to exercise. I mean this as a compliment! We are the 23.2 percent of adults in the U.S. who try our best to meet or exceed the minimum weekly requirements for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. 

Or, at least we used to be until obstacles of chronic pain, chronic illness, injury, or a new diagnosis put up giant barriers to the exercise we need to be the best version of ourselves.

Unable to get the exercise endorphins we need, we fear muscle deterioration, loss of competitive advantage, anxiety, depression, weight gain, loss of energy, problems sleeping, difficulty returning to the activities we love, and the threat of a slippery slope to the onset or progression of disease. 

Excy is for everyone — but especially handy for those who are dealing with an injury or health setback

So often in the world of fitness, people recovering from an injury or health setback are forgotten. The focus is entirely on the willing and able and not the willing, but unable person who would do anything to exercise, but can’t because of lack of convenient and quality access.

I have been absolutely infuriated by the lack of advice from mainstream media and the CDC about the role of exercise to support our mental and physical health during the pandemic. It’s why I openly challenged the fitness industry to start being more inclusive to have a greater health impact on the world at the onset of the pandemic. 

Also, my mind has been blown by the lack of focus on how to exercise after getting COVID, which is why I shared my own journey after a breakthrough infection last summer. Honestly, if we don’t start taking exercise seriously now, in the time of COVID, I wonder if we ever will?

So I’m challenging myself more than ever to help fill the gap and let people know that even with dramatic physical challenges, you have options. We designed Excy to give you a wide range of exercise choices to help you get stronger, boost your immune system, improve mood, and activate your heart and lungs and muscles. 

You can hand cycle Excy as an arm ergometer for cardio and strength training with limited-to-no use of lower extremities. You can exercise lightly or vigorously lying down on the floor or in bed. You sit and get your legs fit pedaling Excy as a recumbent bike from your couch during what would otherwise be a sedentary moment. You can do it all and more at different levels of intensity and resistance depending on your unique journey. We are unapologetic in designing Excy for the widest, most diverse set of riders possible. If you’re willing and able to spin or crank your arms and legs to get healthier, Excy can help you get there.

We are committed to helping minimize the health cliffs

I’m sharing this because I want you to know that I am renewing my commitment to get mainstream media and the fitness industry to care. It’s time for the fitness industry to be radically more inclusive. I want a future world where attention is focused opening access to exercise for those living with challenges, including:

  • 133 million Americans with incurable and ongoing chronic diseases.
  • 61 million adults in the United States who live with a disability
  • 50.2 million people who live with chronic pain, and
  • 8.6 million people who get sports- or recreation-related injuries every year.

We’re a small, bootstrapped startup, so don’t expect big celebrity endorsements, a Superbowl advertisement, or a professional athlete doing our content anytime soon. But know that we will do our best to serve you. We will continue to have physical therapists and medical fitness trainers teach you how to use our full-body resistance cycling trainer. And of course, we will feature real customers whenever possible and put you at the center of everything we do. 

Ideas are always welcome! Always consult with your doctor and physical therapists before starting a new exercise program. Show them the device. They’ll be excited for you and can help you craft a unique program with Excy that fits your unique needs.


Michele Mehl

Michele (@) Excy (dot) com

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