ARX Customer Spotlight: An Interview With Rob Darnbrough of The Smart Fit Method

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ARX- Customer Spotlight

A couple of weeks back I sat down with Rob Darnbrough, owner of The Smart Fit Method. He is one of our most successful customers, and his innovative, proprietary business model looks to revolutionize the fitness industry by combining ARX technology with some other complementary pieces of equipment and an app that allows for precise tracking and feedback.

What follows are some excerpts, adapted from our recent chat.

ARX Machine for Gym

J: So let’s get just a quick rundown to start: when did your first facility open, where are you located currently, and how many locations have you opened since the first facility?

R: We opened officially in Cardiff By The Sea, California on July 1st, 2021. And we opened our second location in Kauai in early March 2022. We also have four locations in southern California that we will be opening later this year.

J: I heard from some ARX personnel familiar with your progress that you had a really impressive start in Cardiff. Do you recall any metrics about the speed or magnitude of your client acquisition?

R: We had over a hundred clients in the first ninety days coming through, and we had an 87% conversion rate.

In total, we’ve had over two hundred people come so far. This shows that our sports science and data science Smart Fit Method is really working for our clients.

J: And what are some of the “first principles” that your method follows?

R: Well, we look for three key components for measurement: strength improvements, cardiovascular improvements, and body composition changes. So we look at that in a lot of depth, right, we look at that outside of the norm, we try to change the conversation.

You know, one of our big ones—and this is why we like working with you guys—is that we don’t think there’s an “overfat problem” in society, we think there’s an “under-muscle” problem. And so we really want to focus on gaining lean mass, to help clients age properly.

J: Very cool. I know you utilize several different technologies in your facility; among those, how does ARX in particular help you to enhance the value proposition of your facility for your clients?

R: I think with ARX itself specifically, we often talk about how it’s about intensity and volume. The problem is that workout volume is usually achieved through sets and reps because of the inefficiencies of weight lifting. Whereas time under tension with ARX’s adaptive resistance allows us to achieve that same real volume load on the body that we wouldn’t be able to do in that time frame without ARX.

So the benefit of that, of course, is that we increase the amount of time for other things in our lives, which is recovery. So we’re big fans of two really key components. We think everyone should strength train, and then the rest of the time they should [enhance their aerobic baseline.  . Move at 180 minus your age, build your aerobic base, and then strength train.

ARX represents a strength training component for us that is time effective, and that we wouldn’t be able to do normally. Like, if you took the normal, average, standard sort of “strength training” regime of six sets reps of ten reps in a movement, if you look at the true time under tension that the muscle has, it’s about eighteen seconds per set!

So that means you do six sets of ten reps, to get eighteen seconds of tension per set, which is roughly giving you between the desired ninety seconds and two and a half minutes of time under tension. Which is very time-consuming if you have to do a “Big Five” and do six sets of ten squats, six sets of ten chest, and so on. It’s a significant amount of time.

So no wonder anyone who’s focused on building and developing muscle uses that volume as an indicator of whether the workout was beneficial because the only way to create the appropriate amount of time under tension is to do a ton of reps and a ton of sets.

Unless you have a piece of equipment that can adapt that resistance effectively and keep the muscle truly under tension through just one set. So it’s easier to do five sets covering the “Big Five” using ARX than thirty sets covering the “Big Five” when lifting weights, from a time perspective.

J: So you mentioned—you have your original spot, you’ve already expanded to a second spot which opened up on March 7th, with plans for two more around the Fall timeframe. Two-part question: do you have any ideas for further expansion after that, and if so, will this new model of a small-footprint piece of technology like an ARX or the other tech you have help you to expand more quickly?

R: We’re opening the first five locations under our current umbrella, and then at the same time in September of this year we’re opening our first two franchise models.

Regarding your second question, one of the big benefits is that—because of our model and all of our IP and technology—we’ve not only got the data that ARX is able to provide, but we also have data from all of our different tech, which actually fits into what we’re calling a “Smart Fit Score,” which is a data science and sports science-backed score that looks at all of the pieces together. And the Smart Fit Score then allows clients to quite simply understand how they’re improving in a holistic fashion.

J: So what types of things are you seeing?

R: So we had a recent client come in, and he’s been with us now twelve weeks. He provided a testimonial recently. He’s a doctor, and he’s got advanced studies in longevity. Before he started with us he took his testosterone levels. He’s seventy-three years of age. In the last twelve weeks, he’s lost 6.5 lbs of fat and gained 5.5 lbs of lean mass. But this is the best part, he not only claims to have the libido of a thirty-year-old, but he can also actually show you his testosterone has increased 3.5-fold in twelve weeks.

And that’s where combining these factors is important, because, you know, metabolic conditioning is an important component of all aspects.

One of the things that are fascinating is that CAR.O.L. has been getting an average of 12% improvement in their users’ Octane Score using their machine three times per week. That is what they see in their studies. We have an 18.7% increase in the same eight weeks for our clients in Octane Score. That’s over 50% greater response with our method. So it shows us that the combination through our method of combining these different modalities is actually more profound than any single component on its own. We’re seeing similar results across all of our modalities.

And that’s why we’re able to do what we’re able to do, create results, and change the conversation, right? At the end of the day, our bodies change. I always say to people, it doesn’t matter what you did when you were twenty-five. You’re now fifty. The things that got you to where you are aren’t the same things that are going to get you to where you want to go.

So why don’t we take a different approach instead of trying to keep going back to the same things you did when you were twenty-five that is just getting you injured now.

J: It seems like the data you generate is almost equally as important as the physical changes themselves.

R: Data gives us a huge return on our investment of time in the facility if we know how our body is responding. So when we combine looking at things like body composition and Octane Scores and strength gains and so forth, we can actually see if the right progressive overload is occurring without excessive overload happening.

We want enough of response—so I always say to people, we’re looking for the minimum effective dose. Once we’ve achieved it, it’s all about how we move outside of that training time. Active recovery, and being smart. And we talk, too, about “catabolic vs. anabolic.” So the key, though, when we’re doing it, it’s one hundred percent in the right dose.

Think of it as a cold plunge. Getting in a cold plunge is beneficial. Staying in it too long is hypothermia.

What we’re trying to do at Smart Fit is not only use ARX technology, but other technologies in combination to determine what that minimum effective dose is, and once we’ve achieved it…stop!

It’s not active recovery if it involves a stationary piece of equipment. Get a life! Don’t say that on your days off you’re going to ride your stationary bike. . Go out and walk with your family.

J: So zooming out a moment, as we move into this new decade, how do you see ARX fitting into the future of the industry in terms of people’s access to fitness and serious strength training?

R: Specifically within ARX itself, I think that we only have so much time to do the things we want to do. So we all know what to do, but the problem is that doing and knowing are two different things. So when we embark in January—because we’re frustrated—on a New Year’s Resolution, on a new fitness protocol that requires five to seven hours per week of our time, we’re only setting ourselves up to fail.

So the future is going to be, if we want to succeed—and this is what I was saying earlier, is that your body’s resilience to a heavy workload diminishes over time.

The big advantage of ARX—besides its effective, efficient way of training the target muscles—is that it gives you real-time feedback. And real-time feedback allows you to make better decisions. It’s the reason everyone is drawn to wearables, they’re trying to gain more information.

The better information you have, the better decisions you make.

So rather than saying, “I’m going to the gym with my new trainer on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and I’m doing this, this, and this because that’s what the schedule says,” the future is going gonna be better understanding about how our body responds to stimulus. And ARX is on the right path for that.

Now I think there are going to be further developments in this area where we get even better at understanding how our bodies respond, so we can better measure phase angle, hormonal response, muscle fatigue, all of these factors. But definitely, this is the direction we’re all heading into.

So when I’m coming in, and I’m getting stronger and stronger and I’m measuring that progress, now my intentions are to continue to go forward. So one of the big advantages of ARX is having that information right in front of me and gamifying it. It not only makes sure that I get a great workout every time I come in—it also motivates me to keep coming back.

Couldn’t have said it better myself—and that’s my job! Big thanks to Rob for making the time.

It’s always good to get some insights about ARX from those who are actually “in the trenches” helping end-user clients reach their health and fitness goals. As Rob said, the future belongs to those tools that allow for precise measurement and tracking while providing a superior stimulus to the body.

And for ARX users, the future is here now.

If you’re reading this and thinking about starting a facility of your own, Rob has given us permission to share his contact info to talk with folks about franchise opportunities. He can be reached at [email protected] and would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

ARX simplifies the most comprehensive full-body workout through perfectly matched, motorized resistance. Short for Adaptive Resistance Exercise, ARX is scientifically proven to deliver quantifiable results in less time. The all-in-one strength training machine dynamically adjusts resistance in real-time to personalize every workout. ARX empowers and challenges individuals to achieve their fitness goals one perfectly calibrated repetition at a time. No dangerous weights to drop and no adjustments to make, just exact resistance. Founded in 2016, ARX is headquartered in Austin, Texas.

For more information, please visit ARXFit.com and join the community on FacebookInstagram and YouTube.