June 6, 2009
-- If you've ever flipped through an airline magazine, you've no doubt seen an advertisement for the ROM Machine, an intriguingly designed device that looks something like the world's most complicated recumbent bicycle. At a cost of $14,615, this gadget is amazingly expensive, but what's even more amazing is how little is known about it.
What, for example, does the machine actually do? The ads never show anyone actually using it, although you can send away for an explanatory DVD. A quick survey of YouTube turns up only two videos, one by a user who doesn’t claim to have physical fitness credentials and one that shows the machine in action. So what's the action? A rowing-machine-
like motion for upper body work and a Stairmaster-
like step exercise for the lower body, with resistance supplied by a heavy flywheel. Four minutes a day is all you need to achieve peak fitness, the Web site exults. (If you've ever used one, please let us know. We'd love to hear about it!)
Fitness experts would agree that doing some form of exercise every day is a great idea. At a minimum, 30 minutes of heart-pumping aerobic activity of some kind (walking, running, elliptical, stair climbing) three times a week is a great heart-healthy idea (if your doctor gives you the go-ahead). Couple that with some total body work such as swimming and some light weightlifting to maintain muscle tone, and you're well on your way to preserving your fitness throughout your 50s and 60s.
But working out like that will take more than four minutes a day, and it's the four-minutes-
a-day promise that the makers of the ROM Machine http://blog.cleveland.com/health/2009/03/rom_machine_wort...
point to as justification for its high price. How much do you spend on gym memberships and exercise equipment, its makers ask? And more important, how much is your time actually worth? Isn't there real value in cutting down your workouts from 60 minutes to four minutes? The site bends over backwards to run all sorts of numbers that try to prove that the ROM Machine is actually a bargain, all things considered. Spend enough time hunched over a calculator, and you may be convinced.
Rom Machine 4 minute crosstrainer http://www.rommachine.org
But a few questions remain. If all that is true, then why don't more people use the ROM Machine and evangelize it online and elsewhere. Why, after 17 years, does it have such a low profile? And why don't the ads show people using it? And what else might you do with your $14, 615? For just a few thousand dollars you could buy a treadmill, an elliptical machine, an extensive set of free weights, a membership to the local pool, and gas to get there. If you're truly curious, seek out one of about 20 locations nationwide where fitness studios have installed the machine for their members to use. Maybe that's the best way to get a good idea of what it can do for you.