What Christopher Hitchens & I Have In Common

I’ll give you a hint…it’s three-letters and vitally important – almost obsessive – for both of us.

No, not GOD silly…ROM!

That’s riiiight…I’m not the only one on a journey to whole-life fitness this year; the nu-atheist and journalist extraordinaire is also trying out the four-minute exercise machine this year as a part of his self-improvement odyssey. And like me, he’s writing about it. Unlike me, he’s writing about it in Vanity Fair. Take a gander:

Christopher Hitchens“I have often thought that when I do die it will be of sheer boredom, and the awful thing about growing older is that you begin to notice how every day consists of more and more subtracted from less and less. All right then, that rules out joining an exercise club. The sheer time spent getting there and back is bad enough, without the warm-ups and other horrors, and the encouraging chats with trainers and fellow members and all the rest of it. (I used to try to deduct the cost of a Washington, D.C., club membership from my taxes, on the journalistic basis that so many of the other members were faced with indictment, but even so the zest for regular attendance soon left me.)

Then I started to hear about the rom. This device—the initials stand for “Range of Motion”—was the perfect “no excuses” invention for slothful mammals. It promised to give you a workout in just four minutes. No: it was better than that. It insisted that you never give it more than four minutes. The catch was that it cost well over $14,000, but, hey, remember that great slogan for Stella Artois beer—“Reassuringly expensive”—and think of all the club subscriptions and travel time you will save over a lifetime (if you can pardon that expression). In return for the outlay, you receive a silver-and-black Harley-Davidson of a machine that acts as a standing reproach to your sloth and flab. I got one and put it in my office, so that I can’t get from the door to my desk, or from my desk to the drinks cabinet, or from either to the bathroom and shower, without having to pass the glinting rom. Lazy as I am, I am simply unable to persuade myself that I can’t part with four minutes every day. Also, I need to make that money back.

The thing is constructed and balanced around a heavy steel wheel that is moved by a series of chains. The hardest way to move the wheel is with your feet, on the rear pedals. The second hardest way is with your arms, using the metal oars at the front. At first I thought that there must be some snake oil involved, but I have since met several good trainers who use the machine mainly or exclusively at their gyms. At the worst, you get your heart rate right up and break a decent sweat. At the best, you lose weight in the bargain. As a compromise, you can look thinner without getting any lighter. This is because—wouldn’t you know it?—muscle weighs more than fat. In fact, the rom people warn you that you may gain a few pounds in the first few months of use. The best I can say is that, even though I had just given up smoking, I didn’t add any poundage to my 190 starting weight. And, which is the second best to shedding for real, I did start to receive a few kind remarks on how I looked thinner. I’ll take what I can get. (And I wish I knew, and maybe someone can tell me, why my scales almost always show me about a fifth of a pound heavier after my shower than before.)”

The whole piece is worth checking out here.

After it was penned, one commenter quipped: “Should Christopher Hitchens’s hectic schedule make it impossible for him to utilize the ROM machine for the four minutes required each day, please consider my offer to take the lightly used machine off of his hands. How about $7,000 and a couple cartons of his favorite cigarettes? Really, call me.”

It’s nice to know that if the Hitch-meister & I were stuck in an elevator together, we’d have something contructive to talk about. You know, instead of…that other three-letter word.

Coming soon: Results from ROM benchmarking!

3 Responses to “What Christopher Hitchens & I Have In Common”


  1. 1 jason February 10, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I prefer the ROM stuff to the atonement piece. I’m at peace with atonement. Not so much the ROM.

  2. 2 bitch August 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I think that you need to publish more on this topic,
    it might not be a taboo matter but typically people don’t
    talk about these topics. To the next! All the best!!


  1. 1 ROM Lower-Body Workout - the Crazystrain Edition « zoecarnate Trackback on February 27, 2009 at 5:07 am

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