Health: Gym Dandy

For patients seeking to get well and for athletes seeking personal bests, a new local fitness center
PotentRx Trainer Wes Van hooser adjusts Roosevelt High School athlete Nick Nestingen's clothing while attaching markers to facilitate a 3-D motion analysis

For years, debilitating arthritis kept Leanne Stevens from doing much in the way of exercise. But on her 60th birthday, she gave herself two knee replacements. In 2008, after taking two years to recover from myriad complications, the former hiker and martial arts enthusiast was ready—or so she thought—to start working out.

“I felt like a stone shot from a slingshot,” Stevens says, “just so excited about being able to get in shape.” She joined a gym at work, but soon, inertia set in. Stevens lost motivation because, she says, she didn’t know where to begin: how much weight to lose, how much time to spend on the treadmill, what her heart rate should be while exercising. Serendipitously, she heard about PotentRx. “I snatched that opportunity and have never regretted it,” she says.

Situated in the M Street Medical Building on Pill Hill, just east of downtown Seattle, PotentRx (pronounced po-TENT-rex) is not your typical gym. The new venture—the first of its kind in the area—was established by cardiologist Dr. Sarah Speck and Seattle University sport and exercise scientist Dan Tripps, Ph.D., to deliver Olympics-caliber technology to ordinary people and change the way they look at exercise.

Before opening PotentRx in January, Speck and Tripps ran a clinic across from Swedish Hospital as part of its rehabilitation program. So far, more than 400 individuals, ranging from patients with chronic disease to elite-level athletes, have become clients of PotentrRx. Speck, who is medical director of cardiovascular wellness at the Swedish Heart and Vascular Institute, says PotentRx’s objective is to marry the science of medicine and the science of exercise to benefit athletes and patients alike. Tripps says that, no matter the person’s condition, there is “a continuum of capacity—the ability to effectively deliver nutrients to muscle tissue without pain—and every one of us falls somewhere along that continuum of capacity.”

The facility is part human-performance lab, part gym and part medical clinic. It has an impressive array of up-to-the-minute equipment, including treadmills, upright and recumbent bicycles, rowing machines, elliptical trainers and an eight-camera, three-dimensional motion-capture system for analyzing biomechanics. It also uses a computerized exercise machine that can record and monitor personal training programs, and enable email communication between client and clinician.

Unequivocally, data analysis is what separates PotentRx from the basic gym. At minimum, clients get comprehensive assessments of their physical capabilities. Each assessment generally includes an aerobic capacity analysis to test cardio-respiratory fitness; a bioimpedance analysis to measure body composition, hydration and cell health; a muscular/strength evaluation; a flexibility assessment; and resting and progressing electrocardiograms. When the assessment is complete, clients get a full report with a general training prescription.

Clients can then choose from a profusion of services and additional assessments. Someone gearing up to run a marathon could benefit from a three-dimensional gait analysis. Someone hoping to improve her golf game may opt for a 3-D swing evaluation. Cancer patients fighting the fatiguing effects of chemotherapy, says Tripps, may need to train in ways that keep their healthy cells vibrant. Prices vary depending on the service. Nutritional counseling runs $160 per session; a session of personal coaching goes for $120. Discounts of about 20 percent apply for multiple sessions.

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