Just so we’re on the same page, this column isn’t about the 1990 Tim Robbins thriller, or the Biblical Jacob’s dream of a ladder joining heaven and earth, nor about the rope ladder with wooden rungs that can be used to get from a large ship to smaller craft. And it’s definitely not about the device by which an electric arc travels up two metal rods.
The Jacobs Ladder I’m referring to is a cardiovascular device, 65 inches high by 31 inches wide, with a closed loop of maple wood ladder rungs. It works similarly to a treadmill on a 40-degree incline — but you provide the power. A digital readout shows elapsed time, feet climbed, rate of climb, calorie burn and heart rate (with a chest strap).
You have a choice of holding onto the handles along the side of the machine or grasping the wooden ladder rungs and using a hand-over-hand method to simulate a climbing action. My personal preference is grasping the handles on the sides. I admit I feel a bit more in control (which is probably why I should challenge my stabilator muscles more by grasping the rungs).
I took a trip to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to look at the fitness center devoted to spec-ops training and found one section that had 10 Jacobs Ladders set up in two rows of five facing each other. They were situated near two rows of Concept2 indoor rowers.
I knew these guys were serious.