When I heard that a machine could deliver a complete cardio and strength workout in four minutes a day I, like you, yearned to believe. The device is called the ROM (for “range of motion”), sold by Romfab, of North Hollywood, Calif. It resembles an amalgam of a classic cruiser motorcycle and a Space Age rowing machine, and ostensibly forces users to employ significantly more muscle fibers than they would doing traditional exercise. This translates into higher oxygen demands on the body and increased calorie burn. But a full workout in 240 seconds?
The ROM allegedly moves the body through a wider range of motion than other gear and, by requiring continual pressure, provides resistance throughout each movement — no recovery moments like those between pedal strokes or bench presses. The premise, at least, is sound: Research has shown the muscle-fiber/oxygen effect and one study concluded that eight minutes of sprint intervals, for example, offer cardio benefit roughly equal to an hour of brisk walking.
One four-minute ROM session, says Romfab, burns 465 calories (40 on the machine and 425 more throughout the rest of the day due to “afterburn,” a phenomenon known by fitno-nerds as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC). By comparison, an hour of treadmill walking, ROMiacs assert, burns 415 calories — 350 on machine, the rest through EPOC. (The EPOC effect is scientifically validated, but some research questions whether EPOC can exceed exercise calorie burn.)
The front of the ROM, for upper-body work, has a long-backed seat, footpads and moving handlebars; the back, for leg and butt work, looks like an elliptical-StairMaster mix. The manufacturer recommends four minutes on the front one day, four on the back the next, repeating for life. Retail price: $14,615 (!). That’s about the cost of 225 hours of personal training — or a year of tuition at a fine in-state university.But cheaper access exists: I went to ROM Works, a studio in Catonsville, Md., that charges $50 a month for unlimited use. Owner Ron Price, a strapping 62, credits the device with saving his life after a heart attack 15 years ago.
When I tried the ROM, it performed as advertised, providing resistance throughout full strokes and mandating a broad range of motion…
Again, you can read the full article here.
A reader sent in a follow-up statement, adding
I was very pleased to see your column on the ROM machine but I don’t believe a fair evaluation can be made without long term use. I have owned one for three years and it is my primary exercise activity. I have lost 15 pounds and greatly improved my general fitness level. It works for me because there is ‘no excuse’ for not being able to exercise four minutes a day and because the high price of the machine is a great incentive to use it. -Bob
P.S. I happen to be 74 years old but I believe it is suitable for any age group.
At age 29, I’m not as spry as I was, say, in high school. But if Bob can ROM on, so can I!
For the whole (health) story-to-date, go here!