BIRTH OF THE
ULTIMATE EXERCISE MACHINE
Testimony by Richard Moore, Design Engineer
James and I met through a mutual business associate in the heating and air conditioning business around 1999. In the years that followed, we became friends and shared ideas for growing our businesses and building a better life.
James was very much involved with martial arts. After two years of our friendship, he felt comfortable enough with me to share this idea of what he described as The Ultimate Exercise Machine. At this point, he felt he could trust me without the fear that I as an engineer would take his idea and run with it. He felt inclined to share a dream that he had had since he was a young adult.
So, we met for lunch one day, as I remember, and James began to tell me of his desire to become the ultimate fighter and how to do that he must have the best diet and training and possess the ultimate strength and endurance. By this time, James was a bit older than most fighters and this fact stressed the need for him to be in optimal condition. James explains to me in terms that I as a novice could understand what he felt he needed to obtain strength and endurance.
His explanation of the natural movements came from ideologies from the animal kingdom and how it is related back to our humble beginnings as a child learning to crawl. Then he incorporated the principles to that of a fish, that the fish lives in a denser and more viscous environment. The thought process of “Constant Full Range Motion with Resistance'' began to develop. Then he went on to explain that a fighter must be able to overcome his opponent and that is through kicking and that he related that to the ability that a kangaroo has in that it can break the ribs of a man from a single kick. Once again, we see the principle of “Constant Full Range Motion with Resistance'' and how it develops kicking power for the 125 lb Kangaroo.
This was around the spring of 2001. I listened to James, reviewed the notes taken on a napkin, and mulled it over as to what such a machine would look like and how to build it. We did not have much of a budget, I think at the time around $300. I asked James to acquire the weight stacks and cables and other normal components of gym Universal machines.
Then I began to theorize in my mind, how the “fish” and the “kangaroo” motions could be replicated. We had discussed the Versa Climber machine which I was familiar with, but James discounted the function and results. However, I could see aspects of it that inspired me.
James insisted on a couple of non-negotiables in the building of the machine. The machine would need to operate in a horizontal plane. This would help to develop the “Core” that James was so important and interested in developing by use of the machine. Next, the motions needed independent resistance for all four limbs in the “pushing” motions so that the strength was developed throughout the whole routine. Then, freedom of motion was key in that the “Crawl” had to be natural and the interface (Pedals) had to be natural as well as to develop the hands and feet naturally.
James acquired four sets of weight stacks from associates in the exercise equipment industry. I went and picked up these parts and in doing so also asked for and purchased other parts such as pulleys, cables, bars, and pins to use as components that I felt might be useful as I was still contemplating the configuration of this creation.
Once we returned to the shop with our collection of standard machine components, I began to theorize about the configuration of the machine. To get the support structure and movement of the pedals, I needed a rod or rail that would allow for long movement and at the same time give this natural movement. From an engineering standpoint, I knew that safety and structural integrity needed to be incorporated to protect the user from injury during the operation of the machine and to be stable and structurally sound to withstand the stresses due to the weight of the athlete and the operation of the machine.
I had recently hung tarps up over the doorways around my automotive restoration shop and had lengths of the rails and trolley components typically used to install ‘barn door’ garage doors. These trolleys gave me a base structure for the components I needed to fabricate - a handle for the hands and a pedal for the feet. The rails would allow for the long travels and range of motion for the machine. I could see attaching a cable from the weight stacks for each of the four independent handles/pedals. So, it was starting to take shape in my mind. But how would I support the rails/channels in a horizontal plane? A table or legs? As I studied other components of weight machines, different versions of the bench were used for various activities such as bench pressing, leg lifts, and lat pulls. The idea started to take shape as I got the idea to also use the garage door rails and continue them for the structural support of the machine.
Design features were incorporated to adjust the machine to cater to different body sizes. One was to make the base of the machine expandable/collapsible to accommodate different torso lengths, which was accomplished by using tubes inside tubes with pins and multiple holes for selection. This was like the pinning of the rods or selecting the weights. The most important feature was the creation of a breastplate. Later it was determined that a removable stomach support would also be needed for the beginner user.
The initial design, collection of parts, and fabrication spanned a brief period of about 2 weeks. After fabrication was complete and rudimentary testing, adjustments, and painting, the machine was ready to be unveiled. James had asked to visit during the fabrication period, but I denied his request as I wanted to be able to create freely on the first attempt. I invited James to my facilities on a Saturday morning for the unveiling. I had covered it with sheets and as he and his daughter arrived, we removed the sheets for the reveal. James was taken by awe and surprise as he saw for the first time the incarnation of the dream he had had as an 18-year-old youth, now as a 35-year-old man.
James related that it was exactly as he had pictured in his mind. A dream comes true. He tried the machine and began to see its unlimited potential and the ways to improve it. Given our initial budget, things were very rudimentary. Over the course of more than 30 years, significant investments in terms of money, time, and effort were made to refine the machine and make it even better. Efforts have been made to bring the machine to its status. While the original design ideas are still present, they have been enhanced and improved using technology and rigorous testing.
I have been actively involved in supporting the development and marketing of what is now known as 'The Fish and Kangaroo Machine', or 'PULSE'. This has involved a journey of trials and rewards, including efforts to secure funding, sales, manufacturing, and patenting.
I even pitched the machine as a viable option to NASA and was able to schedule a Show and Tell with astronauts and scientists for consideration of using it on future Mars missions. This was met with great interest and required empirical testing, which led to further recognition and review by the University of Houston. The machine has also been published in medical journals and submitted to famous athletes in the boxing, football, and soccer fields. In addition, we determined that the machine is a viable fall prevention for the elderly. Potentially improving their quality of life and reducing falls.
Testimonial provided by:
Richard D. Moore
Designer and Fabricator
Click here to view the F&K article published by The Journal of Sport and Human Performance.
Click here to view the F&K article published by PubMed.