Thursday, July 23, 2009

The ROMfab Time Machine and B-Model

So, as you know, I am devout reader of Science Magazine and other sophisticated periodicals. It just so happens that this is the exact forum which Alf Temme likes to advertise his marvelous ROM machine. This where I initially discovered the ROM. So just what is the ROM machine?

The ROM machine is nothing shy of the world's finest aerobic/strength building exercise machine. It essentially provides two exercise movements: A deep-stroke rowing and pressing exercise for your torso and arms, and a deep-range stepper exercise for your legs and hips.

Now for the shocking claim: Alf Temme and his buddy Dr. Petrie claim that you reach untold levels of fitness if you use this machine religiously for just 4 minutes per day. Of course, you have to work hard during this 4 minute span; harder than you have ever worked in your entire life. Four minutes of hard exercise on the ROM can make a N00B puke his guts out. It is that intense.

Skeptical? So was I. I dismissed the claim when I first read the advertisement. I thought it was another fly-by-night ripoff scheme designed to separate science geeks from their dollars. I thought there was no harm in checking the website, though, so I did. What I found there surprised me.

This rudimentary html website contained a number of articles which seemed to echo a school of thought I had once deeply internalized. This is the gospel of intensity. I learned it from Dr. Elington Darden, the mastermind behind the Nautilus workout and the Nautilus machines. I don't know about you, but I never got shit out Joe Weider's system. Weider's perspective was (and probably still is) the dominant theory of weight training. It is also absolutely and completely wrong. It couldn't possibly be more wrong. It just as wrong as wrong can be. It works great for club owners, for a number of dirty reasons I won't go into here. It doesn't work for the guy who wants to train.

Incidentally, I should mention that Joe Weider's main offices are less than a mile from my abode in Woodland Hills. I should walk down there and start a fight. It won't take more than a couple of minutes to knock them out. Then I can go around the corner to Fry's and shop for my next HDTV.

As far as I am concerned, Dr. Dardin proved beyond any shadow of a biological doubt that the human body won't grow strong unless you apply some fairly massive overload on the system. It is only when the body feels a massive overload stress that it kicks out of metabolic sloth mode and begins to build rapidly. The body must feel a survival-level challenge before it will go into adaptation mode. Weider would complain this he knows that and his system delivers that overload. What do I say to that? Bullshit!

As Dardin showed in his work, you don't get the adaptive stress you need out of long workouts featuring 3 sets of 10. You will never get adaptive stress by working one muscle group. Rather, you work all muscle groups on your workout day. You do 12 sets total, 1 per exercise. You do your largest muscle groups first (Squat, Deadlift) and the smallest muscles last (forearm curls). You must lift enough weight to reach total muscle failure in each exercise within 12 reps. The moment you reach 13, you raise the weight. You move rapidly from exercise to exercise. You do not allow time for recovery. You should be totally done in 12 minutes.

When done properly, you will be ready to heave the second set 12 is done. Believe me, I puked several times outside the John Wooden center at UCLA. That's how hard we worked. My Nautilus period was the only epoch during which I made massive strength and muscle gains. I reached the point where I could pull 500 pounds off the floor in the deadlift. I never used steroids. If I had, I am sure I would have won a few powerlifting contests.

From this period of my life, I learned several thing:
  1. Long and easy workouts may be good recreation, but they do nothing for your fitness level.
  2. High intensity workouts change your body, and make you fit.
  3. The objective is to reach your absolute maximum work capacity.
  4. You cannot sustain your absolute maximum work capacity for long
  5. Therefore the workouts must be short, sweet, and brutally difficult.
  6. Get in, get it done, get out. Puke hard if you have too, but make sure you put a survival-challenge stress on the system.
  7. When the body experiences fairly massive survival stress, it will adapt to accommodate peak stress levels. This is growth. This is improvement. This is fitness.
This is the gospel of intensity. This is the gospel I once believed in with all my heart. It was the only systematic theory that ever did me any good. The good folks at ROMfab reminded me of this gospel, and it was like an awakening.

It turns out that Dr. Petrie worked for Nautilus at the dawn of his career. He believed in Dr. Darden's philosophy, but he felt it should be applied to aerobic exercise, not just body building or powerlifting. Eventually, he got together with Temme and the two of them formed ROMfab. The results of their collaboration was the ROM machine.

I decided to order the educational DVD and have a closer look. It was an eye opener. I disliked the Hollywood glamour angle of the DVD, but inside the glam was the gospel of intensity. I saw a number of guys manifesting that "I'm going to have a heart-attack and die" look on their faces while doing the exercise. That expression cannot be faked. That facial expression does not happen unless you are being driven hard to your limit. It was no joke. These absolutely fabulous L.A. celebs were being forced to work at a whole different level than what they were used to. The ROM kicked their asses.

In short, I decided to visit the ROMfab factory in North Hollywood California, roughly 15 miles East of my apartment building. I had the opportunity to meet Alf Temme and his chief trainer. Temme maintains a small gym there on the premise. It is open to the public. He has 3 ROM machines availible for public use. Anyone can use them. Come as often as you like. There is no cost. Temme's trainer gave me the quick tutorial and I gave it a go.

I finished the first 4 minute workout, which consisted of rowing and pressing. I worked pretty hard. I am sure I can work harder. I was guzzling breath by the end. It was plenty hard. I recovered faster than I though I would. {I need to slam it harder.} Sweat poured off my body for a good 10 to 15 minutes.

Phase 2 was scary and more difficult. The deep stepper is a fearsome thing for a 300 pound man with advanced osteo arthritis in his knees. It turns out I could do the exercise, but no more than 75 seconds at a time. My right kneed--the one with the tear in the meniscus--was screaming at me. I wound up doing a little more than 3 minutes in 1 minute bursts. Temme and his senior trainer were both emphatic that this exercise was the most important one for me. To rehab my arthritic knees, I needed to do this deep-stepper motion.

I proceeded from there to the Magic Johnson 24 Hour Fitness in Sherman Oaks where I used the Sauna. I also took a couple of 81mg aspirins. To say that I felt great later that evening would be an understatement. Shockingly enough, it got better still. The next day, my legs felt considerably better. I manifested a smoother standing and sitting motion. All of the muscles in my thigh felt sore, like they had been hit by a good workout, but the result was better overall movement. I was shocked. All of this from one good workout.

So how does this machine work? How do you scale the resistance? When you push and pull and step, you cause an 80 pound stainless steel fly wheel to crank around. The wheel has a literal car-break on it. The faster you spin the wheel, the greater the Centrifugal force applied to the break. The harder you crank it, the more it resists you. You can work as hard as you want to work. You also have a scalable slider which guides you resistance to some extent. Believe me, this scheme will make you work as hard as you possibly can.

In short, I am sold. Unfortunately... I have been agitated for the past 48 hours about how I might be able to acquire one of these machines. Finance is a problem. My job is solid, my credit is good, and I earn fairly decent money. So why be agitated? Are you ready for the next shocker?

The ROM Time Machine costs over $14,000 USD. With our state of California 9.75% sales tax, that will come to around $16,500. We're talking about the price of a compact car without any finance from the factory. Mr. Temme is definitely marketing to a more elite crowd than me.

Given our current recession and banking environment, it is not easy to walk into Wells Fargo Financial and ask them for a $16,500 loan to purchase an exercise machine. Prepare for a gun in the ribs. They might actually loan you the money, but it will be a personal signature loan and the rate will probably be North of 15%. We're talking about financial murder here folks.

With that said, the past 48 hours have yielded several shocking revelations. First, there are a lot of these machines on People are selling new units. People are selling used units. There is a clone machine vendor called and they are selling at a steeply discounted rate (perhaps as low as $5,000).

I am awaiting official confirmation, but it also appears that Mr. Temme and his crew have released a new version of the ROM called the B-Model. This one will also be sold via eBay for as little as $5,000. {I still wonder why Mr. Temme didn't tell me this in person. He knew I had some issues with the price.} Yes, that is still a chunk of change, but I can slap that on my credit card if worse comes to worse. That fits well under my limits. I can also walk into Wells Fargo Financial and ask them to finance that at a more reasonable rate.

I can skip the shipping charges also. I'll just drive over and load the machine in the back of my truck. No cost for shipment or setup, buddy. I love it.

Am I going to do the deal? Yep, you bet. I am working on it right now. I am just about the happiest guy in America right now. I haven't been this happy since the Rams won the Super Bowl in 1999.


You don't know how bad my knees have been getting lately. I have been a bit depressed of late, expecting that I will turn into a 400 pound man in a wheel chair over the next 8 or so years. This is as good as a death warrant. From the wheelchair, it is all down hill to the grave. Suddenly discovering an exercise that can rehab my legs and knees is like a God-send. I am pretty fucking happy.


So, I spoke with the folks at Wells Fargo Financial on Friday, and I was most displeased. They offered me $2,500 at 27% with an immediate $25 application fee/finance charge. Quite frankly, I was shocked. The fellow I spoke with told me I was both lucky and good. The last 16 personal signature (unsecured) loan apps he submitted had all been flatly rejected. That is 16 straight rejects in a row. He reminded me that we are still in the midst of the greatest banking and credit collapse since the Great Depression of 1929. Credit remains ultra-tight. When I told him I wanted to buy an exotic exercise machine his first thought was "Okay, here comes the 17th straight reject!"

Naturally I declined the loan. My worst credit card (the one I never use) is at 17.99% APR. I can easily slap the machine on that MasterCard without coming close to the limit and I will still enjoy a lower rate with no immediate finance charge.

All is not lost. Driving away from Wells my first thought was "Why did Citigroup Financial send me a pre-approval notice for up to$7,000 just two months ago?" That was when I tweaked. I'll hand the deal to Citigroup. The offer Citigroup sent me was good for 30 days only. This was at least 2 months ago. The original offer has expired. Nevertheless, I think I will go by Citigroup Financial and see if they will look me up with the credit terms I want.