Now five years old, FitDeck has come a long way from its first set of exercise playing cards that were stuck in a pouch pocket and were meant to be all things to all people. (Click here for a Jan. 10, 2005 SNEWS review.) Today, creator Phil Black has created a bit of a FitDeck empire. He now has eight, 56-card packs geared to different audiences and goals (bodyweight, junior, senior, yoga, Pilates, stretch, prenatal and postnatal) and another 16 “booster” 26-card sets that can be used separately or in combination with the full sets, including routines such as kettlebells, office, travel, bodyweight and others that are location- or equipment-specific.
We took a look at the Balance Dome booster set, geared for use with a BOSU or other dome product, since many people probably get one of these nifty gadgets then don’t know what to do with it beside stand on it and balance. (Click here for a March 31, 2003 SNEWS review on the BOSU.)
First of all, the concept is to offer a compact personal trainer: A deck of cards that concisely shows and explains exercises and can be shuffled, mixed and matched for endless variety. The business stems from Black, a former Navy Seal and Navy Seal instructor and now a personal trainer and EMT, who used to play a homespun game dubbed PUG (Push-Up Game) with his dorm roommates when he was at Yale. Yes, they used a deck of cards, each coded to represent different exercises.
We really like the idea of having handy, simple instruction that can be pulled off a shelf to use at home without fuddling around with computers or DVDs, as well as a compact item that can be taken to the gym, on travel, to work or anywhere without a lot of falderal.
The Balance Dome set offers 18 exercise cards with six exercises in each card clearly labeled for upper, middle or lower body. A user can either shuffle and draw to create a unique routine, or simply do whichever ones suits his or her fancy – perhaps all upper or lower one day and another body area the next.
One problem with some FitDeck sets – although less so with the Balance Dome version – is that exercise can end up in an order that isn’t necessarily the most highly recommended for the best workout, e.g. a leg exercise, then a back exercise, then a lower-arm exercise, then back to a glute exercise…. Plus, some are presented without modifications in some cases – not a lot of room on the cards! – so a user must use his or her head and not do something that doesn’t feel right. However, since FitDeck’s inception, Black has figured out how to show a small picture with a modification to make an exercise easier or harder. The modifications are shown in illustrations that are simple, but quite clear and effective.
The cards also now come in a clear plastic case that easily snaps closed. (In fact, two 26-card packs could fit inside one case since they are designed for the 56-card sets.) He also has packages that combine several sets geared toward specific needs, such as a road warrior or new moms.
These are a great value-priced addition to a home or on-the-go workout routine for most levels, whether you just need a reminder of what to do or want to kick your routine out of its normal trot.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $9.95 (56-card sets, $14.95)