The following critique is my opinion. I will later correct any errors I might make, if any, once I learn of them.
I have seen this book but not read it. After meeting and talking with Drew Baye on October 26, 2021 and seeing his written impressions—from his reading the first 50 or so pages and skimming the rest—I am able to share a few insights we both agree upon. Drew will submit a more complete review once he has completed the reading.
The book’s cover art is simplistic but adequate, exactly how I, for one, prefer it. The layout is professional with good typography, making for excellent readability. The paper is a high grade which allows for excellent photo reproduction. The book is well composed.
The early part of the book covers some basic and extremely pertinent biology that underscores the imperative to strengthen muscle. It reveals how myokines positively affect every organ of the body, and it exposes the serious health ravages of sarcopenia. This is all crucial and overdue information that all physicians and patients must know.
Along with this excellent biological enlightenment, the authors tell of the admitted mistakes of Kenneth Cooper, MD, the founder of the Aerobics (1968) cult. But while emphasizing the health issues of sarcopenia, they fail to specify that so-called Aerobics is sarcopenic activity. This is EXTREMELY important but missing information from their book.
[Note: I never use cult in the pejorative sense. Nor did anyone else until recently.]
It would also have been helpful if the authors had explained how aerobic and Aerobics are routinely conflated. The term, aerobic, is an adjective describing a metabolic pathway in biochemistry. And Aerobics is a proper noun (always properly written in plural and capitalized) that is the title of Cooper’s landmark book, the name of his fitness philosophy, and the name of his clinic in Dallas. Through this subtle grammatical deception, Cooper (perhaps inadvertently) was able to dupe millions of people, many being doctors, that the two words were related.
It is easily argued that Aerobics and aerobic are different forms of the same word. Though they sound phonetically similar and are very close in written form, one comes from a science base and the other is sheer marketing lingo. So, in a sense, they are etymologically unrelated.
And the ubiquitous assumption that they are different forms of the same word presents a multi-layered conundrum. Aerobics is a monumental hoax that corrupts correct thinking about exercise. It requires great discipline to distinguish it from aerobic metabolism in print and is next to impossible to use it distinctively in verbal dialog. This conundrum makes and sustains Aerobics as viable science making its fairy tale reality unacceptable.
All of the confusion about Aerobics must be exposed and dispelled in any serious book about exercise. The reader cannot truly adopt a novel idea while clutching the outmoded one. Mixing the two together is a weak approach. Typically, I expect the authors’ marketing advisors will not like my stance on this. Marketing to the masses routinely trumps exposing the harshness of reality.
There is no such distinction as aerobic exercise. First, to define exercise, which the authors do not do, requires inclusion of inroad. [An attempt to define exercise without inroad is essentially impossible.] Inroad is the key element of exercise definition which is nowhere mentioned in this book. It should be a major heading in the index but, of course is sorely missing. And you might note that this concept is missing from the vocabulary of almost all physical therapists and exercise physiologists and medical professionals you might encounter. This indicates that they are all clueless to the subtleties of exercise: definition, application, limitations, etc.
But the misnomer, aerobic exercise, presents some interesting contradictions. One is that IF there is no such distinction, there is also no such distinction as anaerobic exercise. Both the aerobic and anaerobic metabolic systems are operating all the time in a normal subject. And even at rest, the aerobic pathway through the mitochondria is outputting more ATP (23 per molecule of glucose) than the paltry output of the anaerobic (fermentation) pathway (2 ATP per molecule of glucose). This is true in all cells of the body except for cancer cells and red blood cells.
Cancer cells are by definition amitochondrial. Either their mitochondria are missing or depleted or damaged so that the cell is panicked and in a sense gasping for energy on the paltry ATP that is produced by the anaerobic pathway. Hence, a la Otto Warburg in 1924, all cancer cells emit elevated levels of lactic acid.
Steady state activity (not exercise) is a legitimate term although often poorly defined. It is used to denote activity that is performed at low enough intensity so that meaningful inroad (therefore legitimate exercise) is deliberately avoided. [Note that it is impossible to defined either exercise or steady state activity without the determination of meaningful inroad.] Kenneth Cooper actually highjacked steady state and morphed it into what he coined Aerobics.
Another layer to the Aerobics slant is that Cooper also conflated the spiritual heart with the physical heart. His Aerobics was part of his religious cultism. From its very inception, it was not science. Years ago, in the Atlanta airport, I sat next to him while waiting out a bad storm that delayed all the flights and talked about how to define exercise. His reply was to ramble on and on about how Christ had influenced his ideas about exercise. He was not being unfriendly, uncooperative, or deceptive. Due to our flight being delayed, we both arrived late into Daytona Beach and I gave him a ride to his hotel where he was to speak later that day. Years later, he bought a line of Nautilus equipment for his clinic and remarked that a guy from the company had treated him kindly.
Another big issue with steady state activity is that it actually prevents efficacious cardiac perfusion. By its sustained and thready heart rate, the right atrium receives poor filling which results in poor stroke volume, thus poor backwash into the coronary arteries during diastole, thus poor perfusion of the cardiac muscle. [In a sense, the heart is starved for nutrition, namely oxygen] Aerobics philosophy has promoted elevated and sustained heart rate thus blunting stroke volume, the real and beneficial result of proper exercise, i.e., inroading of the skeletal muscles. Proper exercise via strength training (another phrase we need to improve) produces a tremendous venous return to fill the atrium. [This produces an elevated heart rate, but not one usually as high as that from steady state activity.]
[We are continually trying to improve on a common word for inroad activity. Strength training OR strengthening activity OR progressive resistance exercise OR merely exercise and others are in use and are with limitations. A commonly used phrase today among those supposedly doing exercise research is resistance exercise. This is not a distinctive term and strongly implies that the user(s) do not understand the essence of resistance. The body encounters resistance in all situations, even in a weightless environment (There is no such thing as zero gravity.) as the muscles encounter tonus (as well as rigor mortis for a while after death) .]
[Once properly defined and understood, it is realized that Aerobics (steady state) is actually anti-exercise.]
What’s more, Aerobics philosophy has kept the exercise physiology community confused for years about exercise intensity. Often, they incorrectly define intensity by heart rate or with a measure of activity volume. These are worthless and misleading usages. Again, inroad comes into play. Although intensity is passably defined as a percentage of momentary effort, inroad per time is the best technical application of the word.
Although steady state activity is anti-inroading and thus not exercise as we define it, steady state may have a place in terms of moving the lymph around. My tongue-in-cheek word for this is lymph training. I do not know if this might be a serious consideration.
The authors also seem to promote their Mindful Strength Training to Failure (MSTF) as their origination. Although it may be original within their realm, I doubt that it is original when considered with my published works since 1990. Although I did not use the phrases mindful or mindfulness until my 2017 book, Music and Dance (also titled Critical Factors for Practice and Conditioning), I explained the embodiment of the idea under the chapter title of Tai Chi and Internalization in SuperSlow—The Ultimate Exercise Protocol, Second Edition (1989,1992). [SuperSlow—The Ultimate Exercise Protocol = SSUEP]
Internalization was coined by Keith Johnson, MD during our stint at the Nautilus funded Osteoporosis Research Program (1982-1986) to describe his observation of me instructing subjects how to think inwardly about their exercise movements. I used elements of the same idea in a script in SSUEP to teach novices how to think about performing a leg press exercise. And one might get close to the same idea in the original paper that I first wrote in 1982 titled Protocol for SuperSlow Training and published in The Nautilus Advanced Bodybuilding Book in 1984, and then again in 1988 in a revision of The Nautilus Book by Ellington Darden, PhD.
Also related, and extremely important, is my argument for the real objective versus the assumed objective. This is also in that 1989, 1992 SSUEP text and has been updated with new insights in Transitioning from TSC to Feedback Statics posted earlier this year (by Ken Hutchins and Gus Diamantopoulos). It is a free download on our website at baye.com and has the latest glossary and concepts in static exercise that are on a plane well above the rest of the exercise community. We have removed its copyrights to encourage readers to share and to provide all with a common dialog to discuss these new concepts. [TSC stands for Timed Static Contraction exercise.]
[In my 2017 Music and Dance, Appendix L is titled Mindless versus Mindful Movement and contains 3,800 words.]
Beyond the possibly petty documentation of my work versus the authors of Deep Fitness are the glaring errors of their application. Their probable neophytic experience might explain many of their errors.
For instance, they mention my work without stating the SuperSlow excursion speed of 10 seconds, thus seemingly misleading the reader to assume that their 4-second excursions are acceptable by SuperSlow standards. What’s more, 4-second excursions for most joint range of motions are too fast to facilitate mindfulness. Even six seconds is too fast.
I saw one comment by a purchaser of Deep Fitness wherein the complaint was lodged that the exercises require equipment to which he does not have access. Although I believe that this is an unwarranted complaint, the authors completely eschew static exercises. The static mode offers the greatest opportunity for mindfulness which the authors are ostensibly trying to promote. And the static mode potentiates many exercises that require no equipment at all.
I am crippled with Still’s disease, although able to feebly walk, and I perform workouts while seated in my recliner that involve selections from over a dozen static exercises.
Also, they mention the optional use of resistance bands in their advertisements and product descriptions. Informed exercise instructors have no use for resistance bands. For dynamic mode, their resistance curves are often backwards, they promote violent segmentation, and they present a danger to popping people in the face, a la former Senator Harry Reid. For static mode they set up a vibratory resonance with the muscular contraction that is distracting to focus and—again—deters mindfulness. Instead of bands, use an adjustable webbed belt.
According to Drew, many of the pictures show incorrect form on the exercises and the guidelines are overly simplistic. Apparently, the authors lack expertise on the proper execution of the exercises OR don’t want to get into the weeds of explaining them OR both. My work at Nautilus in 1986 included the production of extremely detailed subprotocols for many of the Nautilus exercises that exceed anything today other than its updated versions to include MedX equipment. Since this has been obscure material for 15 years or more, I cannot fault the authors for their profound ignorance on exercise execution form. They don’t know these things. And the exercise companies do not provide this information with their products.
The authors seem to be recommending sprint interval training. I am puzzled as to why anyone would want to add this in to a proper exercise program. This seems to be them holding on to a jock fetish. Many neophytes are unaware of the history of exercise physiology (jock physiology) and why exercise physiologists (not real medical physiologists) are grounded in the pseudoscience of Aerobics. [This was first explained to me by the late Terry Todd, PhD, and is expanded upon in my Music and Dance.]
Apparently, the authors do not know what they don’t know. I believe that they mean well but they are neophytes with this technology. Their biology seems well grounded. Their extension from biology over to exercise application is abysmal.
As Drew reads further into this book, perhaps he will find that the authors have given some of these concerns proper attention. He is preparing a full report that will reflect our thorough discussions.
Deep Fitness is perhaps not totally irreparable. With it, the authors have a grand opportunity to improve the health of many people, but it needs its deficiencies corrected. Toward this end, Drew and I offer to provide copies of our works to the authors so that they may be elevated to an expert level.
Ken Hutchins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Drew Baye (email@example.com)