Lately, almost daily I receive queries about where or when people will be able to buy a home static contraction machine.
Here’s what I can tell you. I have never been in the manufacturing business so I’ve known from the beginning that making a serious static contraction machine is not something I could ever do on my own. There have been and still are a tiny handful of guys who try to fabricate something in their garages or basements and some of those try to sell to the general public. None of those machines is worth buying in my opinion. In fact, I’d tell a friend to clearly avoid them.
I tried to work with a shoestring static contraction machine manufacturing operation and it does not work. I could outline the dozen or so reasons why it does not work but I don’t want to talk about the negative aspects and the steep challenges of creating a world-class static contraction machine. What I prefer to talk about is what is being done right now.
There are a few small companies trying to forge a path using high-end machines that take isometric measurements to be used in clinical environments. That’s a good thing, but I never get e-mails from people asking where they can buy or find a $50,000 clinical machine. People ask me about a home static contraction machine. That is also where my primary interest lies.
A team of very accomplished professionals has gathered to form a company that is exclusively devoted to not only the clean-sheet-of-paper design and manufacture of a static contraction machine but also to a constellation of supporting and expanding technologies and services. I am on this team. There is expertise in the areas of exercise equipment and ergonomic design, human kinesiology, clinical research, biometric measurement and analysis, applied mathematics, software design, user-interface design, retail merchandising, direct marketing, global logistics and distribution, international regulation and finance and much more. It’s a proverbially rocket on a launchpad.
My Vision for the Static Contraction Machine
I have a vision for the future of static contraction that the copycats and rip-off artists just don’t have a clue about. When I was in my thirties I would have been quite excited about the massive financial opportunity this represents, but now in my fifties I am far more interested in the legacy of positive accomplishment it can create.
Since hearing them, I’ve always been somewhat haunted by the words of Horace Mann: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” That’s a tall order, but I think static contraction contains a potentially vast victory for humanity. I’m not talking about a planet of bulging biceps and 19-inch necks. I’m talking about having superior health and a longer life – easily attained and within reach of virtually everyone. The health benefits of productive strength training are already well documented. Nevertheless, I think the proven benefits represent only a hint of the full treasure yet to be revealed.
So a proper static contraction machine will not merely be a machine, it will be part of a durable product line that includes very sophisticated software that networks the machines and harvests massive data with a granularity that has never been seen before. I’m always amazed (and saddened, frankly) when I visit a big fitness expo and view the newest fitness machines. The treadmills, ellipticals and other ‘cardio’ equipment are bristling with electronics that takes a few measurements and mostly provides entertainment. As poor an effort as it is, it is infinitely better than the offerings in the strength training area of these expos. Those machine don’t have a molecule of silicon in them. In an age of almost ubiquitous GPS, 3G, WiFi and networked systems, strength machines alone are utterly devoid of technology. And in a rare offering of technology regression, and to add further insult and blemish to the profession of strength training, many fitness promoters even have the Luddite temerity to proffer 19th-century technology such as kettlebells and stretch bands!
Meanwhile, the use of personal metrics is already exploding in the realm of aerobics and cardio fitness. GPS, iPhone apps and other devices measure time, distance, cadence, speed, elevation gain, calories burned, pulse rates, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and other data. But the lowest hanging fruit in the fitness orchard is the billion-dollar opportunity in personal metrics related to strength training. And do you know why it is 100% unexploited? Because nobody takes measurements when doing strength training! They literally don’t have a clue what to measure. Once you begin to take serious measurements the universe of possibilities expands. That is the universe to be investigated by the team of very accomplished professionals I mentioned.
I spent time in the laboratory of a brilliant scientist (on the team!) who designs, builds and uses test equipment to perform force measurements for a shoe company you have definitely heard of. He showed me the fine granularity of what can be measured during your 5-second rep on a static contraction machine. These are metrics that have never been examined before. For example, what is the significance of reaching your peak force on today’s biceps exercise in 800 milliseconds instead of in 2,100 milliseconds as you did on your last workout? Or what is the significance of holding 80% of your peak triceps force for a longer time? Nobody knows. And nobody will know until the software operating and networking the static contraction machine is completed and the data can be analyzed to find correlations. What an exciting frontier that will be!
The Near Future of Strength Training
Even this is the tip of the iceberg. What will we learn when we can compare your personal results with thousands of other people of your same gender, age, weight, bodyfat and levels of strength? Or who also are pre-diabetic like you? Or who also have a premature ventricular contraction like you? This data goes beyond merely calculating optimum training intervals and schedules and could quite possibly reach into the area of diagnostics. The near future holds a simple static contraction machine in every household tracking every family member’s strength by performing perhaps one 5-second exercise every week or so – and always sending a reminder of when it needs to be done. Simple strength training that is easily and almost universally accessible from childhood to geriatric adulthood.
If you think about these things very long you begin to realize the massive undertaking involved in creating a durable company that will offer a complete product line of static contraction machines and software to the world. It will irrevocably change strength training. Once the various apps are available it will be common to compare meaningful strength measurements with friends. “Dave just performed his personal-best bench press with a Relative Static Index of 985! Click to ‘Like’” Haha. Strength training with viral popularity! It will happen. (And the Luddites will disappear into deservedly embarrassed obscurity.)
So why is it taking so goddamned long to get a Static Contraction machine? Good question. I confessed at the outset that I don’t have the talents to make this happen on my own. Every once in awhile I ask the other members of the team, ‘Why is it taking so goddamned long?’ I hear about legal, accounting, patents and other boilerplate. I hear about a global recession. But I don’t hear a date.
So this post is for the benefit of the thousands of people we’ve heard from who really want a home static contraction machine – almost as much as I do. When one is available I will tell you first. But it won’t be a static contraction machine that was slapped together and boxed up in time to capitalize on a Christmas rush or to catch the wave of some goofy fitness craze. It will be a solid, world-class element of an over-arching lifetime health enhancement system designed and intended to ‘win a victory for humanity’ – and if it isn’t that, I won’t tell you about it.
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These images reflect a design created by an award-winning fitness equipment designer who is part of the static contraction machine team. They contain newly patented innovations. I don’t expect the static contraction machine that makes it to market to look exactly like this. When you start with a clean sheet of paper and are designing for isometric exercises only there are many fresh ergonomic and metric possibilities that present themselves.