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'Smart fitness' studio for fast personal training opens in Groton

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Groton — Pawcatuck resident David Roden has opened Connecticut's second location of The Exercise Coach, a "smart fitness studio" franchise that uses computerized equipment for short personal training sessions.

Roden explained that The Exercise Coach typically caters to people who are over 40, don't have much time to exercise, don't have much fitness experience, or are intimidated by big box gyms — whether in general or specifically now because of COVID-19.

"It's super safe, super efficient and very joint-friendly," Roden said.

The Exercise Coach offers one-on-one training and small-group training with a maximum of three people. The typical program is two 20-minute sessions each week.

"Twenty minutes is all it takes when your exercises are optimized," Roden said, noting they "cut out all the waste" of things like changing plates or adjusting pins.

The studio, located on the second floor of 428 Long Hill Road, has nine pieces of equipment, including more traditional pieces of equipment and four pieces of computerized machinery from the brand Exerbotics. Those four include a leg press, chest press and row machine, overhead press and pull down machine, and back and abdominal machine.

Roden said as he demonstrated the chest press Monday, "As you do each rep, the machine is moving in and out but you're constantly resisting. This is why it's so effective, because you're never not working."

Each machine will measure how strong you are with an initial assessment, and as you're working out, a line on the screen shows how hard you're pushing. When you're done, you get a performance report, and when you return, the equipment will adjust to what you've done in the past.

Roden, 50, said he's had a passion for fitness for the past three decades, with a particular interest in bodybuilding and powerlifting. Roden, whose day job is in product marketing, was looking to do something entrepreneurial, and said he loved the philosophy and passion of The Exercise Coach.

He said he's been working on opening the location for the better part of a year, and as has been the case with many local ventures, he encountered some delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Training is appointment-only, which was the case for The Exercise Coach even before the pandemic. New clients are offered two free consultations, and people can make an appointment by calling or texting (860) 785-6450, visiting, or emailing

The cost is $35 to $49 per one-on-one session, depending on how many sessions are purchased at once, and $25 per small-group session.

Roden has four certified trainers and is working on getting certified himself. He said the certification involves about 35 hours online plus at least another week of hands-on training.

Staff members always wear masks, and clients are encouraged to wear masks on the equipment, Roden said. The equipment is wiped down after each session using an EPA-registered antimicrobial coating.

The Exercise Coach was founded in 2000, began franchising in 2011 and now has more than 90 locations across the country.


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