AMHERST, Mass. – The kinesiology department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is working with Cybex International, a leading manufacturer of exercise equipment based in Medway, Mass., to provide research data on how the company’s machines affect the human body. The partnership offers UMass an opportunity to work with advanced prototypes of exercise equipment and gives the company a better scientific foundation for developing new equipment, says Patty S. Freedson, department chair.
The department is working on the project with the Cybex Institute, which is directed by UMass Amherst alumnus Paul Juris. He says the kinesiology department is the ideal place to test his company’s equipment. “In my opinion,” Juris says, “the department is a standard bearer for this work in both academia and industry.”
Freedson says UMass researchers have prototypes of a treadmill and strength-training equipment from Cybex and are in the process of developing and conducting studies on their use. “We’re trying to create a relationship that allows Cybex to share its equipment with us in exchange for us providing Cybex with empirical evidence from our equipment testing results generated by our faculty and students,” Freedson says. “It’s a great opportunity for our students to be involved with all aspects of project design, data collection and learning how to analyze and interpret what they discover.”
Frank Rife, professor of kinesiology, is working with the strength training machine, including a user observation study where his team watches people interact with the machine without giving them instructions. Professor Joseph Hamill is researching the new treadmill prototype examining lower extremity kinetics and kinematics and muscle activation patterns. He is also working with Professor Barry Braun, to simultaneously examine metabolic response.
Freedson says the Cybex partnership is important because it allows faculty and students to provide important quantitative information about exercise response to the scientific community and to Cybex. That information helps inform further investigation and will assist Cybex in tailoring its machines to more specific exercise outcomes.