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Busy Bothell mother has ‘aha’ moment, invents portable exercise machine

Bothell's Michele Mehl never had time to exercise, so she invented a portable cycling machine. (Colleen O'Brien/KIRO Radio)
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How do you find time for fitness when you’re already working full-time and running after kids once you get home? Answer: You invent a portable piece of workout equipment and carry it with you everywhere.

That’s exactly what Bothell’s Michele Mehl did after having her “aha” moment at a park with her son.

“My son’s been in school all day, my husband has maybe been traveling — by the time I got home from work I just wanted to hang out with them,” Mehl remembers of her reluctance to go to the gym.

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Mehl had a home gym, of sorts, in her basement but found that experience isolating and uninspiring. Her idea came while sitting around watching her son at a skatepark.

“I was like ‘you know what, I’m going to start stepping up on this bench,'” she said. “And then I was like, ‘you know what, what if I could just turn this into an exercise cycle?'”

She called up an uncle who has experience building and inventing things and he helped her get a few prototypes off the ground. She calls it the Excy (short for exercise and cycling). It’s a 10-pound portable device that can be carried and taken anywhere for spontaneous bursts of exercise. On average, an Excy user should use the machine for 20 minutes at full intensity each day, Mehl says. It’s designed to be used with your legs or arms and comes with an app and YouTube channel full of workout ideas.

Last October, Mehl put her Excy on Kickstarter and hit her goal, raising about $23,000. While developing the Excy, she lost 25 pounds and feels more in-shape now than she did as a college athlete.

“I want to come to the park and see people using this,” she said. “I have this vision of, I’ll call it ‘public displays of health’ everywhere, right? Where we’re not just sitting at our desk all day. So if we can get to this shift of ‘hey, we don’t have to [exercise] for an hour … I don’t have an hour!’ Then I think we’ve accomplished something big.”

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