Disclaimer: I am by no means an exercise aficionado. In fact, I have only exercised with what can best be described as practiced irregularity for the better part of the last decade and a half. In other words, like so many people I know, I have tried every new workout trend that has come round the bend. I am, after all, an Angeleno and when you live in Los Angeles you have to do something physical lest you run the risk of becoming a social outcast, shunned by every fashionable circle.
Against this backdrop, I have hiked, biked, cycled, and power walked. Tried yoga, kayaking (don’t ask), Pilates and Tae-Bo. And in the process endured every faddish diet imaginable, all to no avail. Okay, well not actually to no avail at all because eventually I realized that, to paraphrase the words of British comedian, Miranda Hart, if I simply ate a bit less and moved about a bit more, that would do the trick for me. But the question of finding a workout regimen that fit with my travel schedule and that I could actually engage with that did not make me positively suicidal remained. That is until I discovered Inform Fitness (and even then I wasn’t so sure I had found the thing).
Billed as a ‘fitness revolution’, Inform Fitness is built around the concept that you can build more muscle with less hustle using the Power of 10 – a high-intensity, slow motion, resistance training workout that provides an entire week’s worth of exercise in just about a half-hour or so once a week, which even for a busy traveler is doable. That fact, at least in part, explains why the groundbreaking regimen which was first touted in the New York Times bestseller of the same name written by Inform Fitness founder Adam Zickerman, has since developed a major following among a hyper busy roster of clients that includes celebrities (Barbara Walters and Leslie Stahl among them), Wall Street CEOs, executives, athletes, doctors, soccer moms, and professionals of every stripe and variety.
When Inform Fitness opened a Los Angeles outpost last year, Zickerman invited me in to try the workout and to be honest, despite my trembling post-workout muscles following that initial visit, I left still wholly unconvinced that this Power of 10 thing wasn’t the just the latest trendy option for simply “moving about a bit more”. However, because it was only once a week, and I wasn’t doing anything more physical than typing and ordering room service at the time, I stuck with the workout by telling myself that doing something once a week had to be better than doing nothing at all.
A few weeks in, and again, being completely honest, I still didn’t know if the workout was really working for me, but I loved the trainers and I liked going to gym and I did feel better after each visit. Moreover, I liked that I could make my visits work with my travel schedule and that I wasn’t plagued by the feeling that I had somehow failed when I missed a week because I was on the road (and what’s even better I didn’t feel like I had to work out when I was on the road!).
Still, it wasn’t actually until a few months into the regimen that one day I found myself standing in the mirror and what I thought was a miracle happened. I could have sworn that I saw a new pectoral muscle flex independently. At first I thought it was an illusion brought on by jet lag but it happened again. ‘Gadzooks,’ I screeched out loud as I pondered what on earth was happening with my body. Then, not to be too personal, I turned and looked at my posterior in the mirror and there was a new muscle there as well. From that moment, I must have spent the better part of the next hour wondering what I could have done to inspire such changes in my body before I remembered my workouts at Inform Fitness.
I had actually been enjoying them so much that I didn’t count them as consequential at that point. I had finally slipped into a workout schedule that felt routine without really trying all that hard. Now, a full year later, as I have watched my body slowly (emphasis on slowly) morph into the body I want with each passing workout I have become not only a believer, but a full-fledged evangelist. Not only that, I find myself eating better to maximize results and have sensed marked improvement in my metabolism and my general health. Most importantly, however, I have found a workout regimen that not only works for me but one that I look forward to doing and can stick with. So much so in fact, that when I was recently in New York, I visited the New York outpost of Inform Fitness because I had the shocking urge to squeeze in a workout between meetings and kind of surprised myself in the process. Me? Choosing to workout when I don’t have to? That never happens and yet it did. Which is not to at all suggest that this workout is a walk in the park because it is anything but if you do it properly.
“It may sound easy, but rest assured – it’s not,” Zickerman explains. “The goal is to work the muscle to the point of complete exhaustion, by using high-intensity resistance and a focused, slow-motion technique – 10 seconds to lift the weight and 10 seconds to lower…until the point at which the muscles can no longer perform …[otherwise known as]… muscle failure.”
And believe me when I say, hitting muscle failure is infinitely more trying than doing just one last rep. In fact just to verify my own experience, I invited my friend, fitness guru and YouTube personality, Davey Wavey, to try the workout with me one afternoon and even he concurred. “After trying the technique, I can certainly say that it’s intense,” he said. “Because each repetition takes a total of 20 seconds, there’s no help from momentum. There’s no cheating. And there’s no rest in between each repetition; it’s constant work for your muscles…[and] it’s exhausting.”
I guess the larger point here, particularly for business travelers, is that the Inform Fitness workout is efficient because it offers maximum fitness in a minimum of time.
A year ago, when I started at Inform Fitness, many of my friends snickered at the notion of only working out once a week saying it could never work because it flew in the face of everything we had ever been taught.
And, in all fairness, I agreed with them as do many people who try the workout for the first time. They are criticisms that Zickerman himself, a former athlete and lifelong fitness scholar and enthusiast, must tackle constantly because most people, just like me, find it hard to believe that less can actually be more. But, Zickerman, like me, would simply say to skeptics “try it”…because you can always go back to working out three or four times a week or even every day, but just think how great it would be if you didn’t have to?
Listen, if you have a psychological need to lift weights every day to clear your head for the challenges of your workday, this isn’t the plan for you. I wouldn’t even begin to say that. If, however, you want to work out once a week and sleep in an extra hour in the morning when you’re on the road or spend that hour doing other things like prepping for meetings or doing yoga or hiking, this might indeed be the very thing for you.
I’m not at all vain (okay maybe I am a little) but I can’t tell you the joy it brings when former skeptics ask me what I’m doing to stay in shape and I flex my new pectoral muscles as I remind them of that little once-a-week workout I’ve been doing for the last year. Tis the essence of pure satisfaction for me, so much so I almost want to keep it a secret, but I just can’t keep it to myself. Try it and I doubt you will be either. It’s like seeing an actual unicorn…could you even imagine not telling someone? Exactly.
Find out more about Inform Fitness at www.informfitness.com.