Using EGYM to Monitor BioAge and Become Younger Next Year

It’s been a year since I turned 69, walked into the Magdalena Ecke YMCA and began a program called EGYM which promised to accurately measure and track my biological age.

My post on my onboarding experience (Measuring and Reversing Biological Age: The EGYM© versus The Longevity Lunatic Fringe©) quoted the attractive possibilities offered by EGYM:

Your coach will determine your BioAge by conducting a combination of strength, cardio and metabolism assessments. Your EGYM BioAge metric shows how you’re doing compared to the typical, average values of those in your age group. The BioAge metrics are a great way to easily track your workout progress.

My initial experience convinced me that EGYM is not part of the longevity lunatic fringe as it utilizes well-established methods for estimating cardiac age, metabolic age, strength age, and flexibility age.

This motivated me to regularly use the EGYM smart circuit machines which “automatically adjust to your custom settings for weight and range of motion guide you through a full-body workout in as little as 20 minutes”

I’ve been using the EGYM regularly over the last year and herein provide a summary of how it works in general and what it has done for me.

What is EGYM?

EGYM is a startup founded in Germany in 2011. It claims 15,000 installations worldwide. In the US it has partnered with many (not all) YMCAs.

EGYM locations are scattered all over the US. Interestingly there are none anywhere near St. Louis. Fortunately, one of the two EGYMs in massive San Diego County is a 5 minute walk from my Encinitas residence.

The major unique component of EGYM is its “gamified” strength training smart circuit.

Gamified Strength Training Provides motivation

The YMCA of Silicon Valley describes it as a “cloud-connected system that combines intelligent software with the latest fitness equipment to provide you with a training experience that is easy to use, fun and motivating. eGym provides a very efficient and versatile workout for all training objectives. Your training data is automatically synchronized with the eGym platform and is available to view via the website www.egym.com and fitness app.”

Each member receives a smart wristband which is utilized to log into the machines as they progress through the circuit. At my YMCA in Encinitas there are 10 machines, 5 for upper body, 3 for legs, and 2 for core strengthening. After log in, the you are guided through your particular workout for 60 seconds. You then have 50 seconds to clean your current machine, move to the next one and prepare for the workout.

At the onboarding session I chose which program I wanted to use from the types below

During my onboarding session I did a strength test on each of the machines prior to doing the workout and this was periodically repeated over the last year.

The EGYM smartphone app kept track of my performance

This what the app shows me for my current strength “BioAge.”

My upper body strength is that of an average 25 year old, my core strength that of a 29 year old, and my legs that of a 64 year old.

The skeptic in me finds this a little hard to believe these Muscle Health bioAge number. But what I can believe is the change in weight that I can push on each of the machines over time which is nicely displayed in graphs in the app.

I started at 55 years and now I’m down to around 40 years, so this really measurable improvement in how much weight I push on the machines.

This kind of feed back motivates me to use the EGYM regularly

Overall BioAge Determinants

This is the summary page from the app for “Your Bioage.”

The overall BioAge appears to be an average of the 4 components calculated by summing Strength 44, Cardio 62, Metabolism 44 and Flexibility 76 (222) and dividing by 4

Again, I am happy to have a “BioAge” 15 years less than my chronological age but recognize that this summation of four objective parameters as representative of my true biological age is completely made up.

More importantly, for users, I believe is having some objective assessment of key biomarkers that are known to reflect longevity. Even more important is a way to easily monitor changes in those biomarkers.

EGYM measure in a reasonable way to monitor 3 key biomarkers that meet those two criteria. Over the last year I was able to improve my cardio and strength numbers and the decline in my BioAge from 58 years to 56 years was nice to see.

Aging, of course results in an inexorable decline in our maximal cardio fitness and our muscle strength and mass. Forestalling this decline should be everyone’s goal.

Measuring Cardio Fitness

I’ve written about ways you can measure your cardio fitness age a lot.

My magnum opus on this (How Does Your Aerobic Fitness Compare to Normal For Your Age: Maximal Oxygen Uptake (MVO2) Through the Decades) describes easy ways everyone can measure it on themselves, gives tables on the normal ranges, and discusses implications for longevity and optimal health as we age.

EGYM uses similar techniques to assess MV02 and utilizes that number to predict cardio age. In my EGYM there are ellipticals, treadmills and upright bicycles all of which are synchronized to my cloud account. After logging in I can choose a cardio test, a structured workout or a free form workout.

I’ve done the cardio test on all 3 of the devices with slightly differing results.

Obviously, the way to improve your MVO2 and lower your cardio age is to do cardio exercise regularly. We’ll delve more into the nuances of measuring and improving cardio fitness with EGYM in a subsequent post

Measuring Metabolic BioAge

At my onboarding session I was asked to remove my shoes and socks and stand on a scale like device and hold the arms of the device.

This device was utilizing bioimpedance to estimate my percent body fat.

I wrote “How Fat is The Skeptical Cardiologist” in 2020 which describes in detail all the methods for measuring body fat including bioimpedance. The most accurate method is a DEXA scan and it had determined by % body fat as 12.4%.

The EGYM body composition device did a much better job than my home bioimpedance scale and came up with 12.6%. Comparing this number to age/gender normals generated the “metabolic” age of 44 years.

In subsequent articles, I’ll describe the EGYM’s method for measuring and improving metabolic age, flexibility age, and strength age.

EGYM-is it worth it?

When I enrolled in EGYM I was a skeptic. But I am now an enthusiastic user. My wife, who eschewed going to the Ecke YMCA for a long time has signed up and now is regularly using the strength circuit and the cardio equipment.

For me, EGYM is a phenomenal value. My Medicare supplemental insurance paid the monthly YMCA membership. I paid a one time 50$ fee to enroll in EGYM.

The program provides an objective assessment of 3 key biomarkers that are known to reflect longevity and a way to easily monitor changes in those biomarkers over time.

Given the importance of maintaining muscle mass and strength with aging, EGYM provides a non-intimidating, structured, “gamified” approach to strength-training that should facilitate individuals regularly working out

The major downsides are that it is not widely available in the US (although growing and associated with many YMCAs). In addition, I fear that as enrollment numbers increase (unless your gym institutes a cap) there is the possibility of a line of people in front of you when you want to start the circuit. There are now over 500 EGYM participants at my Y, up from 400 when I first started. Fortunately, I have the ability to workout during less busy times.

Septuagenerianly Yours,

-ACP

N.B. Discerning readers may have noted that my flexibility bioAge is 76 years and that I said nothing about this in my post. I’m trying to ignore this. It is depressing but true. I am very stiff due to osteoarthritis in my spine. I don’t think I can do much about it (although I try.) Here’s what EGYM says about their measurement technique and the possibility of improving flexibility. (https://egym.com/us/blog/flexibility-value-bioage-development).

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9 thoughts on “Using EGYM to Monitor BioAge and Become Younger Next Year”

  1. Love your write ups. Just FYI link to MVO2 comes back as page full of characters. The rest of the links work fine. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Great post! I’m going to look into the M E YMCA and see if my Medicare Supplement plan pays for it. I think I do have Silver Sneakers included in it. I’ve got the aerobic part well covered but have been upping the strength training since I am on OZEMPIC—down 30+ pounds from 208 and trying for another 10-15 more lost. Please email me -Thanks!! Love your blog!
    Doug Decker DDS

    Reply
  3. I loved this post, as a 69-year old reader with 70 coming before fall. Strangely, and sadly, there appears to be no EGYM club in metro Detroit, nor even in the entire state of Michigan. Irritating.

    This post caused me to read your post of last year in which you reported being able to do 74 pushups. I had to read that twice, tho I see it tracks with your EGYM upper body condition of 25 years. I pulled an old table from the Washington Post which shows how remarkable an achievement that is (28 or more PUN at that age at that time was considered “Superior”). I’m only at half your number with a goal of 50. I’ll try not to feel inadequate!!

    Thanks again for the EGYM review. Worth pursuing.

    Reply
    • Mike,
      Thank you.
      I was able to do 75 push ups on my 70th birthday ! If I don’t do them for a week I drop down to 60 or so.
      Dr P

      Reply

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