Deus ex (Cardio) Machina

By Gretchen Goswitz – July 1, 2016
Photography by Weston Carls

In literature in theatre, the device deus ex machina (translation: god from the machine) is implemented as an intervention to abruptly resolve a seemingly unsolvable problem. This unexpected interjection by a new event, character, ability, or object, leads to resolution. The following cardio machines, are the necessary disruptions to your current, bland cardio workout. Whether you abhor running or you’re looking for a low impact option, this new wave of cardio apparatus will get the job done. And if you do them regularly, these machines may result in sculpting the body of a god.


shot on location at Blackbird Fitness

Rowing machines have been around for decades, but the newer models are changing the game. The Concept 2 rower is typically found in CrossFit and garage gyms, with a lightweight design equipped with wheels, so users can move them around with ease. The rower stores in a vertical position and also disassembles into two parts to enhance the ergonomic features. 

Alternatively, it’s also common to see water rowers in workout facilities. Instead of a flywheel at the front of the machine like the Concept 2 brand, it’s equipped with a water wheel that generates a cyclone as you move. The water rower creates a natural feel by pairing water resistance with a rowing motion. The cyclone may serve as a bonus for some users who’d rather be hypnotized by the swirling rather than focus on the challenge of a cardio workout.

Once your feet are strapped into the rower, the flow of the rowing movement can take a bit of practice. To get into the rhythm of the machine, just repeat to yourself: Legs, then arms. Move swiftly, making sure to extend your legs prior to bending your arms to your chest.

Keep reading for more Cardio Machines!


AirDyne/Assault Bike

shot on location at CrossFit Python; modeled by LV Johns

If the word “assault” is in the name, there’s no doubt you’re going to get your butt whooped. What looks like a modernized stationary bike is actually the cardio workout that’ll break your spirit before you reach the one minute mark. 

The “wheel” is a fan that creates air resistance, and unfortunately, the harder you pedal, the more difficult your workout becomes. The handlebars move simultaneously with the pedals, providing an upper and lower body workout. (Rumor has it that truly sadistic coaches will remove the seat to engage additional muscle groups.) Users often try to find a balance that preserves the most energy, but even at only 50 percent effort, huffing and puffing is inevitable. It’s common to direct greater attention to pedaling while pacing the handlebar movement, and then switch focus to the pushing and pulling of the handlebars as the legs fatigue. Regardless, the Assault Bike will blast calories while giving you the ride of your life.

Keep reading or more Cardio Machines!



shot on location at Of The Lion; modeled by Travis Goyeneche


How first-timers approach the SkiErg: SkiErg? I love skiing!

Fast-forward to the end of the workout, and that rookie is either puking in the corner or lifelessly sprawled out on the floor, reconsidering their affinity for skiing. 

Created by the same evil geniuses responsible for the Concept 2 rower, this machine also provides a full-body workout. Many users actually report working with the SkiErg to complement the rower. It also serves as an efficient alternative to the other two machines, especially for anyone with knee injuries. As the name suggests, it’s a tight and convenient piece of equipment that’ll take up very little space in the gym or your home. The rhythm of this machine is also easier to master, in comparison. Arms extend overhead while holding onto the handles, and as they pull downward, legs and torso bend into a standing crunch-squat hybrid position. Some users incorporate a jump as they reset for the full motion, while others choose to reload with a lower squat at the bottom but keep their feet on the platform at the top of the overhead extension. The SkiErg is a tough machine, but the modifications are plenty, so anyone with an arm, elbow, knee, ankle injury can still use it with minimal to no discomfort.


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