Monday, March 1, 2010

Buy a Jump Rope. It's Cheaper.

I'm sure you've seen ads for the $15,000 ROM Four-Minute Cross Trainer in airline magazines and in the back pages of Men's Journal (not too far from the P90X ad). I read a review of it in Time Magazine a few years ago, and it wasn't exactly glowing. Still, it seems like it'd be a perfect fit for Paleo / Body by Science enthusiasts who favor brief, intense, infrequent workouts. But does the ROM really deliver? Here's a recent take by Outside Magazine:
There are two sections [of the machine], one for your upper body and one for your lower. The first works like a stationary rower: You push and pull on chrome handles that move like oars. A flywheel design automatically adjusts the resistance, so the harder you try, the harder it becomes -- sort of a sweatier version of a Chinese finger puzzle. The other part of the machine is basically an extreme stair stepper, requiring you to mash up and down on a pair of foot pads. Most devotees do lower body one day and upper body on another. I did both. 
Yes, it was quick and it hurt. But because of the machine's automatic resistance, using the ROM is a little bit like going to college—you get out of it what you put in. And how many people are willing to row at the level of exertion required to make a four-minute workout the only exercise they need? I, for one, couldn't get very excited about the prospect. 
My main beef, though, is that Quick Gym [a chain that gives members access to ROM machines for $35 per month] reinforces the idea that exercise is a chore, like picking up dry cleaning.
Really? Because my main beef with the ROM machine is that it costs more than the per-capita gross national income of Spain.

Oddly enough, the most favorable mention of ROM I've come across was in Vanity Fair and written by Christopher Hitchens, of all people. And here's the extent of his praise: "[T]he ROM people warn you that you may gain a few pounds in the first few months of use. The best I can say is that, even though I had just given up smoking, I didn’t add any poundage to my 190 starting weight."

Still, my all-time favorite line about ROM comes from "Visit and order a free DVD or VHS [about ROM] for those that have 15 grand to blow but still have a VCR."