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FitWorkz adding technology to fitness

DeKALB – Ray Binkowski hopes 2013 is the year he marries technology with fitness.

The owner of FitWorkz, 1690 Sycamore Road in DeKalb, said he is testing out a smartphone app that will feature a person’s fitness goals, how to properly use certain exercise machines, as well as Binkowski’s nutrition philosophy.

“Nobody in the industry, certainly not locally, but not the industry as a whole, is doing this,” Binkowski said.

This year also is FitWorkz’s 35th anniversary – sort of. After the Nautilus Training Center opened in 1978, the business changed hands and locations a number of times before Binkowski bought it and moved it next to Big Lots along Sycamore Road in 2009.

The DeKalb-Sycamore area is home to a number of exercise facilities, but Binkowski said FitWorkz is unique because he and his staff teach members how to use the machines properly. Binkowski said not learning how to use the machines is an attitude that’s pervasive in the fitness club industry.

“People have paid for access to gym equipment that they may know how to use some of it, but they lack the ability to put everything together in a way that’s going to produce the results they want,” Binkowski said.

FitWorkz also is home to Athletic Republic, a performance sports training center that has many locations across the country. It’s also the home of Binkowski’s “Eat by Color” philosophy. Different foods are labeled different colors, and he advises to eat a particular color during a particular time of the day.

“It presents a simple system I came up with, called ‘Eat by Color,’ that teaches people how to make better food choices for the rest of their life,” Binkowski said. “It’s not a diet.

Lindsay Burke said she stopped going to the recreation center at Northern Illinois University because of how crowded it was. She said she started working out with a personal trainer at FitWorkz, and has used Binkowski’s Eat by Color philosophy. She has lost 64 pounds since working out on her own last January.

“It’s more of like an open atmosphere here,” said Burke, who graduated from NIU in December with a degree in nursing. “I feel like no one’s going to judge you.”

Binkowski described himself as a “former fat guy.” He said he went from weighing more than 230 pounds to less than 170 pounds and has kept the weight off. Before getting involved in fitness, Binkowski was a mechanical engineer.

“I know what it’s like to have a career, to have a job and I know what it’s like to balance that with weight loss,” Binkowski said.

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