24 minute fitness


24 minute fitness was born in 1990 with the invention of the ROM360 machine that was introduced to the fitness industry in 1990 at the Club Industry Show at McCormick Center as the first and only High Intensity Interval Trainer (HIIT). The 4 minute per day 6 times per week (4x6 is 24 minutes per week) was not taken very seriously by the fitness club decision makers and it met with a lot of ridicule and laughter. Some small independent fitness clubs were managed by more independently minded individuals that dared to take a leap of faith and bought the first ROM360 machines.

Pursuing the fitness club market turned out to be a waste of time and we started to concentrate on the private home owner. That was a very successful marketing effort and we expanded production of the ROM360 into its current 44,000 square foot factory.

Meanwhile the fitness industry has cought up with the idea of High Intensity Interval Training through published University research in Japan (Tabata) and Canada (Trembleau) which determined that intense short duration interval training was far superior in results for fatloss and muscle strength than long duration low level activity. But the aerobic exercise proponents are stubbornly hanging in there.

But despite the survival of long duration exercise (it should not survive in the long run) the ROM360 caught the attention of Special Forces Military trainers that now are using the ROM360 to condition Navy Seals. It took them 21 years looking at the ROM360 to finally buy some in 2011. Some Spotrs Clubs have purchased a few machines, notably Chelsey Soccer Club in England with 11 machines purchased.

But in general 95% of all "experts" in exercise physiology (doctors, personal trainers etc.) after 22 years on the market, still do not believe that 4 minutes of training on the ROM360 will result in more health benefits than from a conventional 30 to 90 minutes exercise done in a gym.

A small gym  near Amsterdam (Netherlands) has 6 ROM360 that are in constant use. They have a club that does group training (spinning, rowing, step aerobics etc) and they allow members to choose between 50 minute group training classes or a 4 minute ROM training. Members that are doing the group training are subject to a lot of attrition they stop their memberships. Just at the time when they are about to quit going to the group traing classes they are made aware of the 4 minute ROM possibility by the trainers in the club and they are shown that they will actually get more benefits out of the 4 minutes on the ROM machine than from the 50 minute group training classes. So they turn the members that are near quitting their memberships onto the ROM360 and that retains a lot of memberships. Since having the 6 ROM machines the club has retained so many potential quitters as members so that they now have 80% more memberships than before and the space needed for the 6 ROM360 machines is only 15% of the total area needed for the group training classes. About 40% of their current membership uses the 4 minute workout exclusively and another 4% uses the ROM after their 50 minute group training class. About 75% of the members that use the ROM will do both the upper and lower body workout the same day and then only come 3 times per week. More health benefits are gained from using the ROM 6 times per week only doing a 4 minute workout of only the 4 minute upper body or the 4 minute lower body workout on alternate days. The 75% of users that do both upper and lower body 3 times per week want to save on commuting time by only having to commute 3 times per week to the club instead of 6 times. You could almost conclude that the group training classes are the opportunity for the club owners to introduce the members to the ROM machine and sell the memberships on the ROM machine. Selling memberships for the ROM machine when the new people first visit the club is very difficult because people have such strong disbelief in a 4 minute workout, so that trying to sell memberships for the 4 minute ROM workout was counterproductive to selling the group training membership classes. It did undercut the credibility for the club. So now, when potential new members come for the first time to the club to sign up for the 50 minute group training classes, the ROM360 machines are not even mentioned any longer because once they come to the group training classes there is enough opportunity to learn about the 4 minute workout on the ROM machines by talking to members that only use the ROM machines after which they will ask themselves about the 4 minute workout and many switch over to using the ROM instead of partaking in the 50 minute group training. Currently the members that use the ROM 4 minute workout also generate word-of-mouth memberships. The club owners expect that soon 50% of their membership will use the ROM exclusively but that they will have to add more ROM machines after they have reached over 50%. The membership retention for the members that use the ROM machines is much higher than for the group exercise classes. So they will be adding more ROM machines.   

A very good potential market is in companies for employee wellness programs. We have several of those with the largest being a 520 employee manufacturing company with 12 ROM360 machines that are dotted throughout their 4 factory buildings where any employee has less than a one minute walk to get to a ROM360 machine to be able to do the 4 minute workout. Showers are not needed because in 4 minutes people do not generate enough heat in their bodies to start perspiring. And the 4 minutes can be done in normal street clothing, no need to change into exercise attire. The company is self insured for employee health care. The company saves a lot of money on doctors visits and they have less abcenteeism because their employees get ridd of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and the like. They save so much money that they are now giving employees a $1500 bonus per year if they do the 4 minute exercise at least 200 per year. They have employed a supervisor who keeps track of the employees actuallu using the machines 200 per year.

There may come a day when enough "experts" catch up to the new idea of interval training so that large health club chains finally catch on. Maybe another 10 years or so?

Actually, HIIT is not all that new because it was pioneered by a track and field trainer Waldomar Gerschler who in 1935 began training a 21 year old 800 meter runner, Rudolf Harbig, who had run the modest time of 2:04 minutes and later set a number of World Records in 800 meter and other distances as a result of Gerschler's pioneering HiiT training methods. Eventually Harbig set a 1:46.6 800 meter record that was 1.8 seconds under Woodson's WR and that new record stood for 16 years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/800_metres_world_record_progression