If the only way to become truly physically fit is—as some rugged proponents claim—by lifting 200-pound barbells or jogging through the streets at near-zero temperatures in your underwear, then a lot of soft and paunchy people are likely to stay soft and paunchy. But wait! There is an easier way: a seemingly innocuous little device called Exer-Genie, which, many people say, really works.
Exer-Genie is nothing more than a 7¾-inch cylinder of metal through which you pull a 10-foot length of rope with your arms, your legs or (by means of a harness) your whole body. The trick lies in the fact that you can adjust the tension on the rope to resist your pull with a range of anywhere from 1 to 410 pounds.
Though Exer-Genie itself weighs only 1½ pounds and easily fits into a briefcase, it now plays a major role in the training programs of a number of first-rank college swimming teams, professional football and baseball teams, not to mention a growing number of nonathletes who simply desire a good, quick workout in their own homes. The Houston Oilers spend 30 minutes daily on a complex of 12 Exer-Genies, and Houston Astro pitchers use the Exer-Genie before going to the bullpen.
Two basic principles are combined in an Exer-Genie workout: isometrics (straining the muscles against an immovable object) and isotonics (working the muscles through a complete range of motion, against a movable tension). You begin each exercise with a 10-second isometric phase, to create a "fatigue factor." Then, without a pause, you move into the isotonic phase, to build dynamic strength, as well as muscle endurance and flexibility. According to one user who happens to be an Olympic swimming coach, completing the second phase immediately after the first is like doing the last of 30 push-ups without the exhaustion and time consumed by the first 29.
Is Exer-Genie everyman's road to endurance and strength? "The average American wants to exercise in his own home but he won't spend even an hour a day at it," claims Exer-Genie's developer, Dean Miller. "A fairly complex Exer-Genie workout can be completed in less than half an hour though, and we feel it fills the bill."
Miller, who can be addressed at Physical Fitness, Inc., P. O. Box 4074, Fullerton, Calif. 92634, sells his machine ($29.95) only through licensed distributors who are usually coaches or physiologists. "We want people to use it correctly," he explains. "Exer-Genie is so valid that we don't want to see it become another Hula-Hoop."