12/12/2005: "The $29.95 Stop-Gap"
First it was the ROM machine that got me all excited about getting in shape. Unfortunately, it's princely price tag makes acquiring one less of an immediate possibility than a lofty future goal. Just the other day, however, I came across yet another full-page fitness ad in a magazine. This time it wasn't asking for huge sums of money, and wasn't even selling any equipment. All this ad was selling was a book (some DVDs are additionally available), and a method of getting fit, all for US$29.95. Having put all that effort into researching the ROM, I had to find out more.
The ad is for a book called Combat Conditioning by author, athlete, and unrepentant serial fitness marketer Matt Furey. Unlike the name suggests, there's nothing violent in the contents of the book. Essentially what he is promoting is his own special brand and method of bodyweight training.
Bodyweight training is simply using the weight of your own body to do strength training. No need for weights or other equipment, all you need is 15 minutes a day (according to Matt) and some floor space. Yes, once again my attention was grabbed by the idea of being able to become fit in only a short amount of time every day, with the added bonus of not having to purchase anything other than the book to do so.
As I normally do, I decided to poke around and see what I could find out about Matt Furey and his book. Eventually I came across an excellent review of Combat Conditioning that was extremely frank and honest. In a nutshell it said that Matt's book has some good exercises in it, but the routines and exercies are limited and the book itself is loaded with marketing hype and ads for other stuff Matt sells. Furthermore, the review suggested a different book that cost the same, has much more information in it, and much less marketing and hype.
That book is called The Underground Guide to Warrior Fitness, and is written by another combat sports athlete, Ross Enamait. Unlike Matt, Ross has pretty much nothing to do with marketing (and certainly has no million-dollar schemes), and is all about training. What's more, Ross' website hosts a forum open to the public, and he answers each and every e-mail he gets personally.
I decided to e-mail Ross and explain my situation: I'm newly sedentary, I need something to get/keep me in shape, is your book too advanced for a neophyte like me? Good to his word, he did answer personally, and gave an impressively honest answer. (He admitted he gets that question about once a week, and still doesn't have an adequate answer.) After a few more e-mail exchanges, I decided that his book wouldn't be too far over my head to be useful, and ordered it. (He even personally replied with the shipping confirmation.) I'm looking forward to the book.
"So, this means you're done with that loopy $14,000 exercise machine, right?" you ask? While bodyweight training sounds like it will benefit me, I doubt it will do much for my cardio. It will certainly benefit my strength and flexibility, but it's not the Holy Grail of training. As I mentioned to some friends the other day, the ROM machine isn't the Holy Grail of fitness either, it's just a really excellent mug. But the answer is no, I'm not done with it. I still have my business plan to open a gym populated by only ROM machines, and further plan to structure the deal such that I retain ownership and/or control over the ROM machines themselves. Once I tweak the business plan a bit further (I'm $400 away from a conservative break-even scenario) I'll start to seriously look for investment. Am I crazy? No, just more desperate to get in shape and better-informed about the ROM than you might be. Crazy only accounts for 5% of the whole deal, maximum.
Until I can get my gym up and running, which I will assume to be at least a year down the road at the very earliest, I'll be doing good old-fashioned squats, pushups, likely some situps, and whatever else Ross' book suggests I should do. It's going to hurt (and already has), but the alternative of packing on more blubber over my already worrying reserve just doesn't fly. Stay tuned, this is only the beginning.