08/15/2014 02:39 pm ET Updated Oct 15, 2014

The 'Oh, Didn't I Tell You?' Syndrome

A friend of mine offhandedly mentioned yesterday that he and his business partner were involved with a fitness start-up that he'd blithely failed to mention before. And by "before," I mean for the past four years!. And yes, I've regularly asked, "So, what's up?" And "How are things going?" It just never occurred to me to ask, "Working on any physical fitness products these days?" They're filmmakers, after all, and the closest we've come to discussing health and fitness is asking, "Do you ever put butter on your popcorn?" Yet now they're on the verge of going public with it. The product is called "Metaball," which I thought might make a good title for a futuristic action thriller.

I have to admit, that not updating people on my own activities is something I've occasionally been guilty of -- though in fairness that's because of a personal preference. If a person doesn't ever ask what I'm up to, I don't want to waste their time by telling them. This is something I learned long ago -- not just from a personal perspective, but also since "not asking what another person is up to because you're self-absorbed" is somewhat the national sport in Los Angeles. It's like the old joke about the actor saying, "Enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think about my latest movie?" (I have a good friend, who's a wonderful guy, always supportive and there if you need him, but almost never asks anything about others. We'd have terrific conversations about sports, politics, The Business and more, and he'd also deliver enjoyable monologues, but he never seemed to get around to ask, "And so, what's going on with you?" At one point, he went even longer than usual where it never occurred to him to ask about...well, others. Finally, one day it apparently popped out of his mouth by accident. My answer was, "I wrote a screenplay, sold it, we cast and shot the movie, edited it, and it's having its first screening next Wednesday. Want to come?")

So, I do know a thing or two about not always talking about what you're up to. Though, as I said, this with the fitness system is a different situation. I ask my friend all the time what he's up to. And he and his business partner have been involved with it for four years. Four years. And not a peep. In fairness, I thought it was pretty funny that it slipped his mind. So, did he. "I never told you?" The word "Yipes" came up a lot in his side of the conversation.

In fairness, one reason he never happened to mentioned this side-business adventure is because he knows I'm not a "going to the gym" or even home workout kind of guy, preferring instead to get my exercise with a morning constitutional for a constitutional. Occasionally, the spirit does move me, and I'll flop to the floor for some push-ups and sit-ups. Though honestly the spirit doesn't move me all that much. So, the product isn't the kind of thing I'd use. But, hey, I'd at least be interesting in seeing what in the world it is.

When I took a look, I had to laugh further because the thing was actually sort of fascinating. No, not something for me, but I do know a bunch of friends who go to the gym (one of them maniacally so) or do workouts at home, and it actually seemed somewhat intriguing for them. It's basically a fitness workout rolled together in this one "ball," something they could use at home and in a reasonably confined space.

Let me digress a moment, because it helps to know what this odd concept is. I didn't have a clue what my friend was talking about -- when he finally got around to talking about it. (He's very pithy in his emails, and often so cryptic that his notes require a decoder ring. "U R right" tends to be eloquent for him.)

The easiest way to describe it is a "medicine ball" that can be manipulated to take the place of a lot of equipment that one would normally buy. For instance, you can pull it apart and add weights, rather than buy multiple medicine balls. And you can also keep the halves unhooked and add weights to each side to turn the device into individual dumbells. Plus, there's a handle attached, which lets it be used as a kettleball. (I didn't know what this was, so I looked it up -- it's another kind of weight training device, that you hold with both hands, more for powerlifting. That's what you see in the image below.) A cord can be also attached to the Metaball and hooked onto a door for stretching exercises. When separated and placed on the ground, its ballbearings let you spin the Metaball to provide an more aerobic style of push ups -- and most bizarrely, you can put straps on the weights which are designed so they can become weight "sandals" you wear on your feet that add further aerobic benefits while exercising.

The added benefit is there's no need to buy all the corresponding equipment the Metaball replaces. (For example, you don't need to buy half a dozen medicine balls -- just the one, and simply add the weights, which are multi-purpose and can additionally be used for the dumbbells and kettleballs.) As such, it also uses far less storage space that would otherwise require a fitness room at home. If it's hard to visualize -- and it was for me, even when my friend was describing it -- this video demonstrates it better.

The guy who designed this is a former Army Ranger captain, and he comes across in the various videos like he's he's enthusiastic, albeit obsessive about this sort of thing. He's also, not surprisingly, a fitness trainer, and a two-time All American wrestler. (I can only imagine the workout DVDs that are included, sort of like a more friendly Louis Gossett, Jr., in An Officer and a Gentleman. "Drop and give me 50, Mister. But it's okay, you can eyeball me!") Since much of this exercise training world is outside my pay grade, the site here describes the "Metaball Fitness System" far better, along with the start-up funding information and various fitness packages. As I said, I have friends who regularly go to The Gym to work out, and much of what I read on the site seems to overlap with things they generally enthuse about, though I tend to zone out when the phrase "reps" comes around for the third time. Me, I'm fine with my morning constitutional, as much as they're into total fitness.

Anyway, I know this isn't of interest to everybody, but if you're one of those Must Do My Daily Workout Folks, this might be worth taking a look at. At the very least, as I've written in my tech columns, I love products that are well-designed and multi-fuctional and that's the most intriguing thing here to me, whether or not I personally ever use a gym workout system. It just simply looks well-made and cleverly made, which I admire.

And now, if you'll excuse me because I have to go chastise my friends again for not telling me for the past four year that they've been involved with this start-up company. I'll have to find out if he's up to anything else these days. Like maybe having a peace plan to solve the Middle East crisis...


To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about this or many other matters both large and tidbit small, see Elisberg Industries.