Leaps and bounds: BYU professor looking to perform research on new exercise machine

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Dani Jardine
Brent Feland, an exercise science professor at BYU, demonstrates The Bullfrog, a new piece of exercise equipment. (Dani Jardine)

It was a subject of curiosity for students who happened to be passing between the Richards Building and Smith Fieldhouse a few weeks ago. What they saw was Brent Feland, an associate professor in the College of Life Sciences, demonstrating “The Bullfrog.”

No, The Bullfrog isn’t the newest dance craze to hit campus, though it does involve moving your body in an unconventional way. It’s a new training system Feland believes is going to revolutionize athletes’ approach to strength and conditioning.

The contraption itself is relatively simple for what it can do. Two bars, four wheels and several resistance bands make up The Bullfrog.

Users place their feet in holsters on the back bar, grabbing the front bar, which forces them to hold their body in a completely horizontal position. It’s from this position that a full body workout occurs.

Feland described it as an “ab wheel on steroids with the ability to work the whole body.”

Watching someone use it for just a few seconds makes it clear why it’s called The Bullfrog. The scrunched up position the user makes when mounting the machine resembles a real frog, ready to leap into a pond.

Feland became privy to this innovative product through his position on the board of the scientific advisory committee for the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.

He was tasked with creating research ideas to further study The Bullfrog’s viability as a mainstream workout method.

Feland was clearly excited about the potential behind the product. He said BYU’s football team has already incorporated The Bullfrog into its workouts after ordering eight of them.

Using the device, individuals can work out their upper and lower bodies as well as their core by extending and contracting their arms, legs or both at the same time.

The back wheels have interchangeable settings that allow users to remain stationary or move the machine forward.

As someone with serious back problems, Feland explained without the impact on joints with normal exercises, the no-impact approach The Bullfrog takes to strength training is encouraging.

“From a physical therapy/rehab perspective, there’s amazing potential for this thing,” Feland said.

Kerry Huston is the Master Frog Coach for Frog Fitness, the Texas-based company that makes The Bullfrog.

He came to Provo to show Professor Feland and a few others how to properly use the device. They even took The Bullfrog up into the hills above campus, using it to travel up several switchbacks on Y Mountain.

It’s clear he believes in the product he was hired to sell.

“We are asking athletes to always go bigger and faster and stronger, and with that comes increased risk,” Huston said. “With The Frog it allows us to work in the horizontal position, which allows us to do an extremely intense workout, without putting (a) load on your joints.”

Richard Pearce is the inventor of The Bullfrog, as well as the CEO of Frog Fitness. According to Huston, Pearce came up with the concept for The Bullfrog after watching a championship bodybuilder at his gym performing upper and lower body strength exercises simultaneously, in an attempt to save time.

Using a couple of pencils and rubber bands, Pearce created his first concept of what would eventually become The Frog (The Bullfrog’s former name). That was five years ago, and Huston expressed high expectations for the company’s future.

So far, they have been successful in marketing their workout system to collegiate programs as well as teams in the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball.

While the football team is the only BYU program invested in the Bullfrog training system, Feland says other programs on campus have also shown interest.

Huston talked about an event planned for next year called The Million Dollar Mile Challenge. They are inviting fitness enthusiasts from around the world to train with The Bullfrog and then come together to compete.

The challenge will be to travel a mile around a track using The Bullfrog, something Huston said has never been done before. The top ten individuals to complete a mile will each win a share of one million dollars.