AEI Technologies recently met up with Kimberly Gandler to shed some expert anecdotal light on the practical use of VO2 Max testing equipment, and the various ways she uses AEI Technologies’ MAX-IIa Metabolic Cart.
Benefits and Anecdotal Use of the MAX-IIa Metabolic Cart – VO2 Max Testing Equipment
Kimberly Gandler, MS
Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute
Human Performance Division
I see that you work at Memorial Hermann. What is your role there?
I run our Human Performance Division. We are a specialty area and offer a variety of services. We have registered dieticians, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and strength and conditioning. We work with some of our partner facilities to offer that next-level athlete experience.
What level of athlete do you work with?
Pretty much anybody. We work with a large variety of individuals from adolescents through high school, a lot of your weekend warrior athletes, as well as professionals, and older people who have had injuries but want to maintain an active healthy lifestyle.
What is, in your own words, the MAX-IIa Metabolic Cart?
The Metabolic Cart is essentially a tool that allows us to measure oxygen consumption and C02 production during a variety of different activities and help our clients better understand how they should be exercising or fueling their bodies.
Is the Metabolic Cart a publicly accessible device, is this kind of testing open to anyone? How do people find you for this type of thing?
Yes! A lot of people find us by googling “Houston V02 Max” or “resting metabolic rate”. We also offer calories per hour testing, but that service is typically part of a package and the client is either a triathlete or runner looking for more specifics to improve their sport, and then we direct them to that more specific testing.
The majority of people coming to you are athletic?
It ranges, for resting metabolic rate and nutrition services, that could be anybody. People utilize those services to understand their bodies and fuel them properly. This is especially popular now, since many people had gained some weight during quarantine. But generally our population is a healthy active group of people or those motivated to be healthy and active.
Did COVID affect your industry?
Because of COVID, like everyone, we ceased all testing for a few months. However, we have extremely strict testing and cleaning protocols and with approval we were able to slowly resume services as they were deemed safe. We continue to follow CDC guidelines as healthcare facility and will likely be wearing masks for the foreseeable future even with our vaccines. Being under strict protocols allowed us to feel safe as we slowly built back up. Since then, the demand for certain tests has ramped up a lot. Our dietitian as well as BOD POD and resting metabolic rate have seen the most activity in recent months.
What compelled you to acquire AEI Technologies’ MAX-IIa Metabolic Cart?
We started with AEI about 13 years ago. We got the Max IIa because the exercise physiologist who started the program here had used it in the university setting and liked the function of it. Since then we have acquired three more units as we expanded to more facilities. Prior to getting the Max IIa we had a smaller unit, but it wasn’t nearly as scientific as AEI’s. He encouraged that change for us to pursue that technology from AEI.
So one cart wasn’t enough at that point?
We opened additional facilities over many years and needed more.
Which components of the cart are most impactful to you?
We run the basic software to get the essential data- VO2, CO2, respiratory exchange ratios, and volumes, and then we run diagnostics and analysis on our own. It works great for us to be able to take the raw data, whereas some carts just spit out one number. As a scientist and as someone who is highly trained in this, I don’t like that. I want to see how we got those numbers. Then if there is something that looks off, I have a way to analyze why it’s off. In rare situations, if we see data that is concerning, we will refer our clients to physicians for further testing. Having that raw data, and really being able to fully dive into the meaning behind that data, that helps us a lot.
Why is it important to take measurements of oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide consumption? What does the data clarify and what does it help you determine about your subject?
Oxygen consumption relates directly to calories burned. Thet ratio of O2 to CO2 is called your respiratory exchange ratio. That allows us to understand which energy system is primary, whether it’s aerobic or anaerobic. That information then dictates how many calories are coming from fats and how many calories are coming from carbs. Therefore, it gives us an idea of your base caloric needs. For a VO2 Max Test – how well your aerobic system is working, and when you cross over into anaerobic allows us to correlate your heart rates and recommend training zones. In a more specific test, specific to running or cycling, we can take that same data and look at how many calories you are burning at each specific running pace or intensity on the bike, and then what percentage of that is coming from your fats or your carbs.
How does your metabolic cart help with research?
It would help in providing you all the raw data and information that you want.
What is the importance of the Metabolic Cart’s accuracy in your field of work?
Oh, it’s extremely important. Little numbers here and there can be the difference between being concerned that there is something wrong with someone’s health. We’re taking that data and giving them very specific recommendations based on that data, so if you’re not confident in the data, that is a major concern.
Why did you decide to use AEI’s product over other similar products?
We got the AEI because we had experience with it from the university setting and really liked the function and reliability of it.
What has been your experience working with Phil Loeb and his team at AEI?
We haven’t had any issues. It’s worked fairly seamlessly. We’ve had repairs done over the years or troubleshooting with AEI that have helped. They’ve been very helpful, even though they’re remote, whether it’s email, Facetime, any communication. What I will say, that I think is great, is we just haven’t had a ton of issues where we really required us to reach out about, which is great for me. It’s always one less thing to worry about when a client shows up and the technology is reliable.
Are there any areas on Memorial Hermann that feature AEI products?
Yes, there are some Youtube demonstration videos on how we utilize the equipment on our website.
Lastly, a very serious and professional medical question that I like to ask – What’s on your playlist right now?
My music playlist?
To be honest, I don’t have much of a playlist! I do mostly audiobooks and podcasts these days, and if my kids are in there, it’s usually country music.
Classic country though right?
-End of Interview-
Authored by: Adam Schwarzbach