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Fitness club in Trinity has four-minute workout

TRINITY — You can hold a graceful pose on a bamboo-wood floor. You can hop on the Lexus of exercise machines and feel the burn for four minutes. You can even belly up to a bar and ask for a shot of oxygen, appletini-flavored.

Just don't expect to clang barbells or pound on a treadmill or flip through old magazines while slowly pedaling a stationary bike.

Fusion Fit Club, a new workout space at Trinity Village Center that opened in December, does not feel like a typical gym, and its owners say that's the point.

"This is what we believe the fitness center of the future will be," said Michael Canizio, a personal trainer and a co-owner, along with Trinity chiropractor Andrew Kemp.

By this measure, fitness centers of the future will look like minimalist urban lofts and seem, as comedic television host Stephen Colbert might say, "sciencey."

Fusion Fit Club's brochures feature the slogan "where fitness meets science" and make even drinking water sound sophisticated: "Refuel and re-energize at our high tech Science Lab. You will experience oxygenated waters from around the world."

Amid all the new offerings: Heated yoga sessions, a "Spa Capsule" that gives a full-body massage and expensive low-impact exercise equipment, including a workout machine-to-the-stars that comes with a controversial claim most experts say is too good to be true.

Fitness express lane

Kemp, the chiropractor and Fusion co-owner, said he wanted to start a gym with a very clear niche: People who have little time and who value low-impact workouts. (And also people able to pay more: Single monthly memberships start around $80.)

Christine Wolsky, a 38-year-old New Port Richey resident who has fibromyalgia, said she used to do pool exercises and use a stationary bicycle at a slower pace at another gym. But she said the equipment at Fusion forced her to pick up her pace — and doesn't hurt her joints doing it.

"I'm not as exhausted as I was," she said.

Her husband, Jeff Wolsky, and others say Fusion's minimalism is especially appealing.

The Wolskys, who run a customized bobblehead doll business, pay a $250 monthly membership, which includes unlimited yoga and Pilates classes. That's a lot of money, they acknowledge.

"But you can be there for so much less time," Christine Wolsky said.

Troy Glaves, a 40-year-old real estate agent, said Fusion Fit Club "feels more like physical therapy" than a typical gym. He goes around 5 a.m. every day.

"I like the cleanliness, I like that it's organized," he said. "At 5 o'clock in the morning, I'm a very simple person."

Jeff Wolsky, who is trying to get back in shape after taking some time off for a shoulder injury, says he also likes the seriousness of Fusion. It's not a place with a lot of socializing and chatting among members.

"People are there to work out," he said.

Some doubters

The club has four types of low-impact exercise equipment, including one that mimics skating and one that combines a lower body step machine and an upper body climber. But the equipment that Fusion touts the most is the ROM, which is part rowing machine, part stationary bicycle and part stair climber.

The ROM (it stands for "range of motion") comes with a hefty price tag — Fusion paid about $16,000 for each of its four machines — and an unorthodox claim: That four minutes on the machine equals 20 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular activity and 20 to 45 minutes of weight training.

"The only other people buying them are celebrities," said Canizio.

The claim that four minutes on the ROM is sufficient exercise contradicts everything health advocates and government officials have been saying for years.

The standard recommendation is that healthy adults need longer bouts of exercise: either moderate activity for at least 30 minutes, five days a week, or high intensity for at least 20 minutes, three days a week, say the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association.

Scott Powers, a professor of applied physics and kinesiology at the University of Florida, said he saw no problem with using the machine for four minutes at a time several times a day, to add up to the recommended amount. But he said there's no evidence that four minutes alone is enough.

"If it sounds too good to be true," he said, "it probably is."

Club owners and the machines' California-based manufacturer argue that the ROM works so many muscles that it makes the body a calorie-burning machine long after the workout is over.

"It's what happens afterwards," said Amber Stokes, Fusion's director of operations.

The evidence the manufacturer cites includes a two-month study conducted in 1994 by University of Southern California professor Robert Girandola.

The study looked at 38 untrained students and found that the 10 who exercised for four minutes on the ROMs improved their aerobic capacity by nearly 6 percent.

That study never appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, so many experts question its validity.

Even Girandola, when contacted by the Pasco Times recently, called his own study "sloppy" and said he was embarrassed that the ROM manufacturer was using it to justify the claims of a four-minute workout.

"I'm not proud of that research," he said. "The machine is very good. But four minutes is not enough of an aerobic workout."

People swear by it

Nonetheless, some Fusion members say they've seen excellent results, mostly because of the ROM. Glaves, for instance, says he lost 18 pounds and reduced his body fat by 8 percent in about eight weeks.

He uses the ROM machines for only four minutes plus he goes "as long as I can" on the climbing machine. He changed his diet, too, though he attributes most of his weight loss to the ROM.

Glaves, a former Ridgewood High School baseball star, had formerly jogged about 30 minutes on a treadmill most days. He decided to give Fusion a shot because he was still heavier than he wanted to be.

"Never in my entire life have I had muscle mass on my arms and my legs like this," he said. "Once you do it, you feel like you have a little secret."

Jeff Wolsky said he doesn't know if he could go 30 minutes on the ROM.

"I did the ROM for three minutes," he said, "and nearly had a heart attack."

Glaves said he wasn't sure how the ROM could work in just four minutes. But he's not all that interested in discussing the science.

"I don't care," he said. "I just noticed my body feels a lot different."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

>>If you go

To get in touch

Fusion Fit Club is at Trinity Village Center, behind Bonefish Grill, on State Road 54. The phone number is (727) 376-1950. The Web site is www.fusionfitclub.com.

Fitness club in Trinity has four-minute workout 04/20/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 28, 2008 8:42pm]
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