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When James Driver, now 49-years-old, decided to buy a Total Gym, little did he know it would be the best decision of his life – a lifesaving one in fact – but not for the reasons you might think.

Read about James’ harrowing tale and find out how he attributes his workouts on Total Gym to saving his life:

“My name is James Driver and this is a testimony to how working out on a Total Gym actually saved my life – literally.  I am now 43 years old and a year ago I was looking into buying some home fitness equipment.  I had narrowed my search to a free weight system and a Total Gym.  The costs were comparable, but after viewing a video on the Total Gym I decided it would offer me the best work out.

For almost a year I have been working out faithfully on the total gym.  I knew I had more strength and flexibility than I had achieved working out at a gym on free weights and machines.  I now know that the total gym workouts actually prepared me to handle a life and death situation far more than free weight system could ever do.

On June 26, 2006 my church group, comprised of 18 adult and youth, entered the Ocoee River (Class 3 and 4 rapids) for a whitewater adventure. I had been white watering before and was looking forward to another river experience.

In the midst of a rainstorm, we headed down river. I was sitting in the right front and the very first rapid we hit sucked my section of the boat down and then popped up leaving me airborne. I did not panic since I… knew what I had to do. With my feet faced down-river I went toes and nose up in the air.”

I was going along OK even though my backside was beat by every rock down the river. Then things turned suddenly bad at a large rock with a strong hydraulic. This part of the river literally sucked my feet to the bottom and as I went through the rapid, my right ankle became entangled in a loose end of rope that was attached to the rock.

My body continued down the river but the rope had firmly wrapped around my ankle and violently twisted me around so that I was facing the rush of water. Unable to breath, I placed my loose foot under a rock at the bottom of the river and turned my body so that my face pointed down river.

The rush of water was so strong it forced my head into the water and I was submerged.

I am 6’1” and I was barely able to get my head out of the water. Using my free foot and the free end of the rope that was floating next to me, I was able to keep my head above water and push against the current.

People were quickly working to free me. I was in a difficult location with little accessibility. Several times rescuers were swept past me as they attempted to reach me. I began to see the panic in my rescuers’ eyes and I realized I was in trouble. Later, they told me that 20 minutes had passed without any success.

Looking back, I can see how the Total Gym workouts gave me the strength to hang on while my rescuers figured out a way to save me. Specifically, the Total Gym exercises that gave me the muscle strength and flexibility that no free weight or machine system could give me were:

  1. Twister [torso rotation]:  This allowed my lower abdominals and upper and lower back to be able to twist and stabilize myself in the water against the current.
  2. Seated Row and Seated High Pull: Allowed me to develop the muscles that pushed against the water (upper back and rear shoulders).
  3. Butterfly and Biceps Butterfly [lat pull down or triceps pushdown].  These muscles were the ones that I needed most as I pulled myself out of the water using the same motion I used working on the Total Gym.

These exercises cannot be duplicated [on other] weight machines. Plus, I had the added bonus of the cardio workout that Total Gym gives. I definitely had to have the muscle strength and cardio combination to withstand the constant pressure of the water.

Finally, a rescuer reached me and cut the rope. I was now once again free floating through the rapids. I am not sure how far I went before eventually making it to the shore.  I was exhausted and I was told that hypothermia was setting in.

My rafting guide looked at me and said that in over 13 years on the river, she had never seen anything that scared her more.  I [was beat up] with obvious loss of body heat.

I’m not sure how much longer I would’ve been able to remain above the water, but I do know this—a year of working on Total Gym, and the specific exercises I’ve been using, gave me the strength to stay above water until my rescuers could reach me.

Total Gym and the exercises only it provides, saved my life.”

Story submitted by James Driver, Frankfort, KY

Edited by permission, for length only.

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