When Peter Wasowski, the founder of Vasper, described the benefits of this his exercise system I was admittedly skeptical. I’d heard these claims before. The Vasper system increases strength, endurance, allows for better sleep, provides more energy, ratchets the libido and helps the body repair injuries.
What’s more, he said a 20 minute work out on his equipment would provide you with the equivalent of a conventional two hour work out. Suffice it to say, this sounded like fodder for a late night infomercial.
Despite the promises, I could see he was a serious guy and deserved the benefit of the doubt. I listened to his story.
He had been in the medical device business in California, sold his company and retired (at least he thought at the time) to the Big Island. Retirement left him restless and recovering from a bout of arthritis. He had a real incentive to mend his body so he started tinkering and he came up with an exercise machine prototype which eventually became the genesis of his current company, Vasper.
Wasowski has a clinic at the Cades Shutte building on Bishop Street that for all practical purposes, looks like a gym. There are rows of exercise machines, stacks of towels, and attendants at the ready. Clients pump away at the machines as they would at any gym but there’s a difference. Each individual is outfitted with something that looks (and feels) like one of those inflatable cuffs that the nurse puts on your arm when she’s taking your blood pressure.
The cuffs surround your biceps and your quads. They also fit you with a similar vest-like device around your chest. These devices put pressure on the muscles and to keep the body temperature down. They are attached to tubes which pump a cooling liquid through the device and in effect act as a radiators chill your body. Even your feet are cooled on the Vasper machines. Clients take their shoes off and place them on a stainless steel foot rest which is also “refrigerated”.
Why keep the body cool during a workout?
He brought me over to a large TV screen on the wall of the clinic that’s usually reserved for broadcasting basketball games and the like. He explained that the cooling the body and compressing muscles traps the lactic acid in the muscle tissue. Lactic acid is what produces that burning sensation when you exercise heavily. It also stimulates natural growth hormones that according to Wasowski, do wondrous things for your body.
The main difference between Wysenski’s clinic and a conventional gym is that individuals are fitted with belts resembling the inflatable cuff that would normally be used to take your blood pressure. These devices, are attached to your biceps, quads and chest act much like radiators to cool your body during the exercise routine. Each belt is connected to a hose running from the wall filled with a cold liquid. Even your feet are cooled. It’s obligatory to take off your shoes and place your bare feet on a stainless steel plate that is also refrigerated.
By keeping putting pressure on the muscles and dropping the temperature the Vasper machine maximizes lactic acid build up.
Following the exercise routine, Wasowski has his clients lie down on special cots, also fitted with coolant-infused mattresses, for 15-20 minutes.
Wasowski is convinced his system is more than just theory. He’s working with Stanford University to improve his product and has an R&D facility in Silicon Valley.
He clients are not simply well heeled Bishop Street executives. Wasowski has a Mainland clinic that attends to professional athletes with multimillion dollar contracts and does pro bono work to repair the bodies of injured Navy SEALs and other vets.
In addition to earth-bound clients, NASA has shown a real interest in using some variation of the system for astronauts. After all, it’s a long way to Mars.
Rob Kay has written about technology and life sciences for over 20 years. His columns have appeared in Pacific Business News, the Honolulu Star Bulletin and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.