The Return of the VersaClimber

The VersaClimber is making a comeback. You know that machine you stand upright on and pull the handles up and down to simulate climbing up a mountain?

The only place I’ve ever seen a VersaClimber is at the gym I belong to in Brooklyn Heights, which is hardly a palace of fitness innovation. And the only person I’ve ever seen using it is a very old man who works out wearing his jeans tucked into thick socks. Otherwise, that VersaClimber just sits against the wall at the gym looking like it’s ready to be taken out with the recycling.

Recently, however, the VersaClimber has been making headlines, and maybe it’s time to reconsider its value. Last year, VersaClimber received some press when Rise Nation, a gym in West Hollywood, and Sirens & Titans, a gym in nearby Westwood, started offering classes.

Then, last month on a  Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast Rob Wolf, host of the popular Paleo Solution Podcast, talked about how he uses the VersaClimber to cross-train. Wow. If Rob Wolf was saying that he uses the VersaClimber, did that old man in my gym with his jeans in his socks know something I didn’t? In addition to podcasting, Robb Wolf is a former biochemist and elite athlete who has set multiple powerlifting records. He’s the guy the Navy Seals and Defense Department call when they want to learn more about how to maximize performance in combat.

But Rob Wolf isn’t the only diet and fitness luminary embracing the VersaClimber. Apparently, Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple uses it too and has written about it, labeling the machine the “Greatest Piece of Exercise Equipment Ever.”

Mark Sisson, like Rob Wolf, is a force in the world of new health and fitness conversations. Mark’s Daily Apple is the go-to spot on the Web for primal health advice and community. If anything makes an argument for a little VersaClimbing, it’s Mark Sisson on a paddleboard at age 60 with eight-pack abs.


Source: Mark's Daily Apple

Source: Mark's Daily Apple

If all this is feeling a little too “bro” for you, I totally understand. But I believe there is wisdom to be gathered from all corners of the fitness and food revolution. These guys are smart. They are fit. They know what they are talking about. I’m never going to be a powerlifter and my six-pack is probably not emerging any time soon, but I decided to try doing intervals on the VersaClimber.

I did a 10-minute circuit, switching between 20 seconds on the climber, 30 seconds on the stationary bike and 20 seconds of rest. I learned quite a few things from those 10 extremely long minutes:

1.     The VersaClimber is hard work.

2.     Ten minutes can be exhausting when you are truly pushing yourself.

3.     The next day I felt like I’d ripped myself a new intercostal muscle or two.

I’m going to continue building the VersaClimber into my workouts. I’ll report back if any abs emerge. To get a used VersaClimber for home, check out eBay. For more information on the new VersaClimber models, go here.

Also, this is very intense cardio. If you are north of a certain age or haven’t been to the gym in a while, it’s good to consult your doctor or trainer before climbing on this machine.