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To call Nautilus a weight-lifting machine is a vast oversimplification. The core of the apparatus is a small cam fashioned in the shape of the interior of a nautilus seashell, the cam's silhouette being similar to an archer's bow. Basically the cam allows resistance to be varied throughout the exercise so that as the strength of the muscles changes, the load they are asked to move varies correspondingly. The result is minimal exercise time and maximal muscle growth and strength gain. Jones recommends that workouts on his machines be restricted to 45-minute sessions three times a week.
"At first people don't believe it," says Nautilus advocate Casey Viator. "I was skeptical, like everybody else who thought they had to work out four hours a day seven days a week to get any results." Viator won the 1971 Mr. America title after training on Nautilus equipment. Now he is 23, has a 31-inch waist, a 51-inch chest and upper arms that are almost 19 inches in circumference. He stands 5'8" and weighs a bit over 200 pounds. He follows no special diet. In fact, on a recent promotional trip across the country, Viator never skipped the bread, potatoes or dessert. And he has not done sit-ups in three years because Jones calls them superfluous.
Viator was part of a controversial Nautilus project termed the Colorado Experiment that was conducted in May of 1973 at Colorado State University. In 28 days, under the supervision of Dr. Elliott R. Plese, a professor of physical education, and several other faculty members, Viator showed an increase of 63.2 pounds of muscular mass while exercising on Nautilus machines. In that period, he took part in 14 high-intensity workouts, each averaging almost 34 minutes.
To be sure, there were extenuating circumstances. Viator had lost part of a finger in an industrial accident four months before and had not trained since. His weight and strength had declined appreciably, so he could be expected to make some gains upon resuming training. But the results were spectacular. "If I hadn't witnessed it, I don't think I could believe it," Plese noted a year later.
Many people still refuse to accept the result. A competitor in the weight-training field claimed that the "before" photos had been retouched to make Viator appear smaller. One Colorado State educator was so shocked by Viator's transformation that he badgered Jones and Plese for the "secret" food supplement that he thought must be responsible for the additional weight. Jones finally told him, "It's elephant dung. I discovered a tribe of super warriors in Africa who used it in their diet."
"I knew it," cried the man triumphantly. "Where can I get some?"
"People don't want to believe the truth," says Jones. "They want a secret, the 'magic belt' that will take inches off their waist, the high-protein supplement that will make their muscles grow. They want vitamins to make them younger, health foods, organic vegetables. A balanced diet and exercise are the secrets to good health. But you try and tell that to one of these muscle-head guys, and they don't want to listen. They still take all the pills, all the vitamins and all the growth drugs."
The Nautilus machines provide additional benefits. Surgeons and physical therapists find them superior tools for rehabilitation work. Jones filmed Dick Butkus' knee operation last summer and is keeping a cinematic record of his progress. Next fall Jones wants to film every Georgia Tech football game until the inevitable knee injury occurs, then film the victim as he progresses from surgery to recovery while exercising on Nautilus.
A few weeks ago Jones launched perhaps the most ambitious of all his Nautilus projects, the ultimate convincer, a program he feels "will send shock waves throughout the sports world." Fittingly for a man of mystery, Jones feels that this latest adventure must be kept secret for the moment, even though he was able to offer certain clues. Among them: the test program is being methodically supervised by several people of unimpeachable character; it involves a large group of strong young men and three special Nautilus machines; finally, "nothing like it has ever been done before."
"What if there was a way to solve the oldtime bugaboo of neck injuries?" Jones muses, still not telling his secret. "What if one could properly strengthen the neck through isolated workouts? Imagine the effect it would have on sport." And what if after only two hours of such workouts, the machine proved that it had grabbed another problem by the collar? It had indeed, Jones revealed. And so much for secrets.