Only 45 Minutes of Biohacking

It reminds me of the great song from Yankee Doodle Dandy, 45 Minutes from Broadway.

In fact, I only have to change the first line (ruben and jay were slang terms for country bumpkins):

Only 45 Minutes of Biohacking
Think of the changes it brings;
For the short time it takes
What a diff’rence it makes
In the ways of the people and things
Oh! What a fine bunch of rubens

When the bunco men hear that their game is so near
They’ll be swarming here thicker than bees are
In Barnum’s best days, why he never saw jays
That were easier to get to than these are

I’m referring to an article I read in the Wall Street Journal by reporter Hilary Potkewitz that looked at the latest fad in the exercise industry: biohacking, also known as the smart-gym movement. The idea is that precisely calibrated workouts can produce muscle strength in a dramatically shortened time period.

A normal weekly workout at one of the smart gyms mentioned in the article might involve a 15-minute strength-training session, about 10 minutes on the bike, and about 20 minutes on the Vasper machine. That’s the odd-looking machine at the top of this post.

Another company claims that a workout of about 20 minutes on its machines can achieve the health benefits of a week’s worth of workouts at a traditional gym. The club recommends that its members come in twice a week, for a total of 40 minutes.

A gym in NYC recommends three, 20-minute sessions per week.

Besides the shortened workout times, the other commonality among all of these smart gyms are their prices. The NYC gym charges $75 per 20-minute workout. A 10-minute session at one of the other gyms is $60.

I believe that short workouts can be part of an overall health and fitness program. But to claim that such workouts are all one needs to get in ideal physical condition seems to be stretching things quite a bit.

But many people look for the quickest, easiest way to get something done, and it seems like that is the niche these gyms are going for.

As George M Cohan wrote though:

When the bunco men hear that their game is so near
They’ll be swarming here thicker than bees are
In Barnum’s best days, why he never saw jays
That were easier to get to than these are

So it’s no surprise that these gyms are popular because they appeal to that niche, and I won’t be surprised if we don’t see more of them over the next couple of years.

And then they will likely fade away, just another in a long line of exercise fads – like the vibrating belt.

*top image from Center for Healing Neurology

**next image from Men’s Health

25 thoughts on “Only 45 Minutes of Biohacking

    1. not sure what you mean by switch off time…

      as of right now, we will be able to fly home. My class finishes this week, and we are scheduled to fly home the following week. My students also finish their classes this week, followed by a week off, and then they start a nine-week internship in Singapore. However, they are being given the option of not doing the internship and leaving after their classes are finished this week. It will be interesting to see how many students decide to leave.


  1. I always say “there is no such thing as a bad workout.” Well…. The vibrating belt is a perfect example of an exercise con some are more than happy to fall for. By the way where is my shake weight?


    1. if the vibrating belt or the shake weight gets people up off the couch and away from social media for a while, they’re doing a bit of good. it’s just that you need a bit more than that…


  2. Not everything gets better with expediency. And we always seem desperate to find a shortcut to everything. They are selling you time supposedly, but I am not buying it.


    1. I think of my exercise time as my mediation time as well, since I usually do my cardio in our old dining room, with no music or tv on, just me and my thoughts (and my heart rate monitor). So I’m getting two things done at once, I guess that’s kind of expedient!


      1. the word balance reminds me of the video I saw this week of Oprah falling on stage. She seemed fine, but it was ironic that she was talking about balance when she fell…


  3. I think a lot of people want an easy way out instead of changing their lifestyle and these gyms/exercises that offer what seems to be an easy way out become popular for a while because of that but people eventually move on to the next thing that gets popular.


  4. i think busy people are looking for the fastest and largest return on their investment of time and money. unfortunately, fast, expensive, and trendy rarely offer the return they are expecting. target market is out there though.


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