Spartan Race

Sunday, February 7, 2010

In praise of Fitdeck

A long time ago, I figured out that to stay in shape, I need to do more than just run. I also need to do some form of other exercise - and I don't mean hopping on the elliptical or the bike at the gym. I need some form of resistance training. If I don't, I get flabby fast. My weight balloons, and I pack on fat in places I don't want it and lose muscle in places I do, and then I also just feel crappy. And, I get weak. Fast.
I don't mean to say that I'm a 6% body fat kind of guy, we've already established that I'm not. The only six pack I have is in my fridge and nobody is going to mistake me for a professional athlete (well, maybe a pro bowler). But, I do at least try to stay in shape, and I've found that unless I work out, I run off muscle.
I used to have Andy, the best trainer in the world, who could train six foot two, 195 pound me to the point I was about to throw up but was still grinning, turn right around and do the same for my 112 lb wife, and then go charm a 70 year old grandmother into doing dumbbell presses on a balance ball; but, alas, he moved to Seattle and left me floundering. When I had Andy scheduled every week, I knew I'd get to the gym for at least that period of time. I've tried other trainers, but it just hasn't been the same. Couple that with increasing my mileage for the Goofy, and I just didn't have time to get to the gym while it was open. I increasingly found myself working out really late at night, or at the hospital while I was on call. I needed a portable Andy I could take with me anywhere. And I came pretty close to finding it in Fitdeck.

FitDeck Bodyweight

Conceptually, Fitdecks are pretty simple. They're basically a deck of cards with instructions for a bunch of different exercises written on them. Rather than suits, they're divided up by the different parts of the body that the movement works out (upper body, lower body, core, whole body, etc). They also dictate a number of reps to do based on whether you want a beginner, intermediate, or advanced work out. I'd seen them in a magazine, and thought it sounded like a good concept, but really hadn't looked in to it. Then, browsing trough the app store on my ipod one day, I ran into Fitdeck.
I downloaded it, and it was unbelievable - here was a bunch of body weight based exercises I could literally take and do anywhere - and just as importantly, it provided variety. With 50 different exercises, a quick shuffle resulted in a different set of exercises every day! All I had to do was hit a button, select the number of cards I wanted, and work out.
Given that there are certain places you just don't want to leave an ipod (say, left in a call bag in an unsecured room or in a drawer at the office), I also quickly obtained the traditional deck of cards "analog" version as well. If anything these proved more versatile. Say you want a quick work out, shuffle, deal out 10 cards, do them. Say you just ran 15 miles yesterday - pull out the lower body exercises, shuffle, and go. Want a full body ache the next day kind of thing? Do the deck. They're great! (as an aside, the ipod version is undergoing a complete rebuild, and I'm lucky enough to be beta testing the current product. It's going to be superb!)
I've slowly added more and more Fitdecks to my arsenal - the first thing I did was buy my 67ish year old parents the Fitdeck Senior version - which are thoughtfully about twice the size of the regular cards so that the presbyopic don't have to use reading glasses to see them. Next I added the Combat Sports deck, which provided a whole new series of for the most part whole body exercises.
Body weight exercises are great for travel and times you can't get to the gym, but I have yet to see one that can really provide a good biceps workout. Recognizing that limitation, I also acquired the dumbbell deck. No surprise, not only did it give me a great arm work out, but challenged my legs and core!
The other cool thing about these is that they can be used alone or in combination. I've mixed the combat sports in with my original deck, and add the dumbbells or subtract them simply based on whether I have access to weights or not. Constant variety keeps one from getting bored!
My children loved my original deck, so I bought the Fitdeck junior set for them. They fight over who it really belongs to and frequently pull it out to "train" each other. I have to say, I've done it with them, and it's fun - completely different exercises from the adult version. I also grabbed the trx version (which I'll review with the trx at a later date) and the Navy Seal workout. The later, as you might well expect, isn't for the novice - I find it rather challenging and tend to do it on its own.

FitDeck Combination of titles

In short, I love these things. They're inexpensive, versatile, and effective. With versions like stairs, prenatal, stroller, office, and travel, they have something for everyone. I even entertained getting them as Christmas presents for all my co-workers, but my wife convinced me that not everyone might think they are as cool as I do, and some folks might take it as an insult (ie "are you implying that I need to exercise more"). That's not at all why I would be giving them (I just think they're cool), but she's usually more socially adept than I am, so I took her word for it. I still think they're a perfect gift for the right person! In short, these things are a great, fun tool for staying in shape.


  1. I like the FitCards as gift ideas, but I think your wife did the right thing, lol. So sorry the kids 'lost' them this weekend. I think that 'losing mommy and daddy's things' comes in the fetal manual, lol...

  2. FitDeck is great! I use the mobile version on my BlackBerry, I have the bodyweight version.