Local resident’s Exercise Coach studio customizes workouts using smart tech

Dave Liu, owner of The Exercise Coach studio in Encinitas.
(Courtesy of The Exercise Coach)

Solana Beach resident Dave Liu recently opened The Exercise Coach, a smart new fitness studio in Encinitas.

Outfitted with high-tech computerized machines instead of traditional equipment, The Exercise Coach’s personalized programs are optimized for efficiency, resulting in the need for just two 20-minute workouts per week. The machines adjust a person’s workout to their strengths and weaknesses in real time, helping people get the most out of their workout.

Founded in 2000, The Exercise Coach began franchising in 2011 and currently has more than 150 studios nationwide and 40 locations in Japan. Liu is already planning to open a second location in Carlsbad next year and another franchisee is exploring a Carmel Valley location.

A Torrey Pines High alum, Liu comes from a unique background —he has been a professional poker player since he was 18 years old: “It’s the only job I’ve ever had,” said Liu, 35.

He also serves as the assistant boys and girls varsity tennis coach at Canyon Crest Academy and coaches third grade boys basketball with the California Bearcats in Solana Beach, his way to do something fun and to give back.

For the last few years, Liu had been looking to get into business as he and his wife wanted to start a family and she was urging him to consider a career that was less of a gamble.

At the time, his 98-year-old grandfather had moved into their home and Liu noticed how difficult the last years of his life became because he had never done any physical activity or strength training in his entire life. He had many issues with balance and falls due to muscle atrophy.

That motivated Liu to look into strength training and lead him to The Exercise Coach franchise in Rancho Bernardo, the first one to open in California.

Liu has learned how important strength training is as we age, to make sure to maintain balance and to avoid sarcopenia, the involuntary loss of muscle mass and strength.

“When you hit 30, if you do zero strength training, you naturally atrophy a half a pound of muscle a year,” Liu said. By 40, he said, that number bumps up to a full pound a year.

A basketball player used to longer high-intensity workouts, he was initially skeptical of Exercise Coach’s 20-minute sessions. But working out regularly, he saw how effective the equipment was and what a great opportunity it would be to bet on his own franchise.

Equipment inside The Exercise Coach fitness studio
(Courtesy of The Exercise Coach)

“I thought this would be a great business to bring to the community, where we can all get healthy together and everyone can win…whereas in poker that’s not necessarily the case,” he said.

In Encinitas, he picked the studio’s new location in the Sprouts shopping center on Encinitas Boulevard and El Camino Real.

Different from a big box gym, workouts are scheduled by appointment only and the most amount of people in the studio is four. Clients benefit from the robotic exercise technology plus the individualized attention and guidance of a trainer. The smart equipment calibrates the workout to the user, finding the right intensity, the right resistance, helping to prevent injuries. “ No two workouts are the same,” Liu said. “Everything about the experience is customized to the individual.”

Liu said Exercise Coach’s efficient workouts are a perfect fit for people with busy lifestyles and are safe for people of all fitness levels, from teenagers to people in their 90s.

With his poker career folded for now Liu said he is focused on building his business.

“This is definitely more fulfilling,” Liu said. “I love coaching and helping people, having a positive influence on kids and paying it forward.” This business was a natural extension of his work coaching up young athletes: “I want to help people live better lives.”

The Exercise Coach offers two free trials, For more information, visit The new Exercise Coach is located at 1343 Encinitas Boulevard.