Rom Machine

Archive for July 2009

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A complete workout in just 4 minutes a day? That’s what the makers of the ROM cross trainer claim is possible with their piece of exercise equipment, while admitting that it sounds too incredible to believe. On their website it reads: The biggest problem is that 4 minutes sounds too good to be true for a complete non-impact cardio, resistance- and flexibility workout. The common maxim goes: “If such a machine really existed, then obviously everybody in the world would know about it.” The website also mentions the difficulty they have in getting endorsements from fitness experts: The third problem are so called “experts” (personal trainers, doctors, etc.) when asked for their opinion about our 4 minute ROM machine, they will not even bother to inform themselves, read anything about it or try it out before giving their negative opinion or even ridiculing our ROM. Most of these “experts” are so closed minded that they cannot even be educated as to the logical insights that are embodied in the very intelligent ROM design and function.

Is it true that fitness experts are too close minded to even consider the claims of the ROM cross trainer, or is this a case of “attack is the best form of defense” on the side of the ROM machine distributor?

On the web, one can find quite a few blog entries and other articles written by people giving their opinion on the ROM machine. They claim varying degrees of expertise in health and fitness related topics. One blog called “Exercise Equipment Expert” writes a review of the machine after reading information at the website, however not trying out the machine in person, and concludes: “You can get a better workout on a rowing machine, doing squats and dumbbell bench presses.” Jim Fiore, a science professor and a blogger at ScienceBlogs.com, writes of the ROM machine makers: “[…] one of their basic claims is that if you workout harder, you don’t have to workout as long to achieve the same benefits. Apparently, their lack of knowledge of the body’s energy systems makes them eminently qualified to assess the value of this “new excellent idea”. That doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement either. When the ROM cross trainer’s makers posted a link to his article and criticized that he had never tried the machine, he rebutted: […] I really DON’T have to try it to find out that it cannot possibly do what they claim it does BECAUSE my education does indeed tell me that it would be a total waste of time.” Todd Bublitz is a health and fitness writer at allexperts.com and was asked what his opinion of the ROM machine was. His answer was short but sweet: “The only thing more ridiculous than the suggestion that you can get a good workout in 4 minutes is the price tag. I did a thorough investigation of this machine a month ago and I could find no legitimacy.”

So the question begs…is there any fitness expert out there who thinks that the ROM machine can provide the high intensity, short duration full body workout that it promises? The ROM cross trainer’s website has a page called Studies with various studies regarding the benefits of high-intensity interval training. Three of the studies were done with the ROM machine. One study dates back to 1995, but two more recent studies were published in May 2007 in the Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. Both those studies claim to have found results that study participants exhibited significant results and positive improvements in whole body strength and body composition after training on the ROM machine. Thus, those fitness experts concluded that the ROM cross trainer does give a user a workout in 4 minutes.

Although the ROM machine manufacturer’s negative smearing of experts does seem like a sour grapes reaction to negative reviews of the ROM cross trainer, it does become quite clear that there is a lot of expert opinion about the ROM machine which doesn’t come from first hand experience. One thing becomes quite clear when reading the different testimonials, blog entries and studies on the ROM machine: you should probably try the machine out yourself, to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

The ROM machine is a cross trainer that promises to deliver a workout in just 4 minutes a day. ROM stands for Range of Motion, and the ROM cross trainer is thus called, because of the range of motion a user goes through when performing exercise on the machine. The ROM machine is made by ROMFab, located in Southern California and has been manufactured by the company for almost 20 years.

The ROM cross trainer has two stations: an upper body workout and a lower body workout. On the upper body station, at the front of the machine, the user is seated. One upper body repetition consists of pulling the side arms towards the chest, opening the side arms out about 10 inches from the body in a reverse V shape, pulling the opened side arms around the upper torso until the side arms hit their stop and can go no further. Without stopping the reverse motion is made, the side arms are brought together again in a reverse V movement and the user pushes the side arms forward, engaging the abdominal muscles and stretches all the way forward without letting their bottom lift from the seated position, until the side arms hit the front stop of the ROM machine. All this movement is done under constant resistance. There is resistance in the pull element as well as in the push element.

The lower body workout is performed on the rear of the ROM cross trainer. There are two pedals extending from the rear of the machine. It resembles a stair climber, but that is where the similarity between the two exercises stops. The user steps onto the rear pedals using the rear side arms for support, and pushes one foot down as far as possible. At the same time the opposite foot will raise to the user’s chest. Depending on the user’s flexibility the range of motion that can be attained on the rear of the ROM machine is quite astounding. Usually a user won’t be able to perform the full range of motion right away, but after a few weeks of regular use on the machine, a user’s flexibility improves.

The most important component of the ROM machine is its 80 lb flywheel which is mounted on a hub and nestled into a stainless steel hoop. On the side of the flywheel there is a centrifugal brake that engages once the flywheel hits a certain RPM, creating friction with the hoop, which creates resistance. When the ROM machine user performs either of the exercises the fly wheel will start to spin as both stations are connected to the flywheel through a transmission and a series of chains. The faster the exercise is performed, the faster the flywheel spins. The faster the flywheel spins the further the centrifugal brake is engaged, and the more resistance is created. The more resistance created, the more difficult the workout, which means: the stronger the Rom cross trainer user is, or the more strength and effort put into the workout, the harder the workout will be. Although there are two stations on the ROM machine, there is only one flywheel, and thus only one user can use the ROM cross trainer at a time.

The ROM machine is built to last. It is made of chromed and powder coated steel and stainless steel components. The majority of the ROM cross trainer’s components are custom made for the machine with enduring quality in mind. To prevent distortion and bending over time from users’ yanking, the side arms are made of solid steel bar, whereas on the majority of exercise machinery the structures are made of tubing, as it is more lightweight, and thus cheaper. But the ROM machine’s quality does come with a price tag: a hefty $14,615. But if you want an exercise machine that gives you a complete workout in just 4 minutes, it might just be worth it.

The ROM Machine is the brainchild of John Pitre, hailed by many as America’s leading surrealist and social commentary painter, selling more prints worldwide than any other artist. His paintings addressed the themes of over population, drugs, and ecological deterioration already during the 60s and 70s, well before they became obvious problems of our times. In addition to being a talented artist, John Pitre is often called a modern day DaVinci, holding over thirty patents to his name. Through his scrupulous study of human anatomy in the arts he has also designed the world’s most advanced fitness equipment, the ROM cross trainer which was awarded the Best of What’s new in 1993 by Popular Science Magazine.

The ROM machine was conceived of and designed while Pitre was living in Telluride, CO. In the winters, he would ski to keep in shape, and in the summers hiking provided ample opportunity for fitness training. However, in spring, the snow would melt, but the trails were too treacherous for hiking, so staying in shape became difficult. In John Pitre: The Art and Works of a Visionary, he writes: “This challenged my creativity and passion for invention, so I analyzed what I could put together to prevent us from getting totally out of shape before summer came. Within short order, pulleys, ropes, iron bars and other interesting leftover parts borrowed from the mines around Telluride began to appear in my barn, which I slowly transformed into a gym of sorts. [..] In time, I discovered that if the weight declined at precisely the same rate the user’s muscles lost strength, he or she could continue the exercise well past the point when the muscles normally failed.”

This eventually evolved into what John Pitre called The Time Machine, reflecting the time savings benefit that the ROM cross trainer offered its users. In 1990 John Pitre approached Alf Temme to manufacture the ROM machine. Temme had a long history of working in the health and fitness industry. After undergoing changes in the industrial design of the ROM machine which streamlined it for easier manufacturing, the ROM cross trainer took the shape it has today, and for the most part the design hasn’t changed much in the last 19 years.

The first years of manufacturing and marketing the ROM machine were filled with challenges, including the heavy skepticism on the part of consumers. The ROM cross trainer’s claims of a 4 minute workout were just too hard for many people to swallow. However in 1993 Popular Science Magazine awarded the machine and its makers the prestigious Best of What’s New awarded, which granted the machine more credibility. The company began to sell more and more of the machines, and referral sales became a great source of continued sales. However, the scientific community still remained skeptical of the revolutionary fitness claims of the ROM machine. This was soon to change, though.

In 1996, a Japanese scientist by the name of Nishimura Tabata published a study “Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max,” which is now recognized as one of the foundations of the high-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, exercise strategy. The studies of Tabata and other proponents of HIIT have shown that this method of exercise can be more effective at burning fat and maintaining, or building muscle mass than high-volume, lower intensity work-outs. Finally the high-intensity short duration physiology behind the ROM machine was supported by studies in the scientific community. Further studies have proven that HIIT increases the resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which explains how a user can burn a similar amount of calories after working out 4 minutes on the ROM cross trainer as they would as a result of performing a traditional cardio workout like jogging or cycling.

As a result from the increasing acceptance of the validity of HIIT fitness and growing sales because of word of mouth, demand for the machines increased so much that in 2003, the company had to move its production facility to an 82,000 square foot factory in North Hollywood, CA. The ROM machine’s components are fabricated at this location from raw materials (sheets of metal, bar, tubing, etc) and assembled, the final product being crated in custom wooden crates, waiting to be delivered to their final destination.



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