Everyone knows exercise is a powerful tool for health and longevity; the catch is many people don’t have time to do it. But what if all you needed was 5 minutes? In this episode, Ulrich Dempfle, the CEO of CAROL Bike, provides insight into how 5 Minutes is transforming the cardio fitness industry. He explains what’s required in this brief window of time and how scientific research supports this finding. Tune in to this episode today, and let’s maximize this opportunity to build a healthy workout.
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CAROL Bike: The 5-Minute Exercise Transforming The Cardio Fitness Industry
It’s another fantastic episode and on this show, we bring you the best guests and talk about some of the best different products and services that are offered. I want to introduce the CEO of CAROL Bike and this is Ulrich Dempfle. Ulrich is originally from Germany, in case any of you want to know. He’s been living in London for many years.
I was introduced to CAROL Bike at the Dave Asprey Biohacking Conference. I spoke there several months ago and we saw a CAROL Bike there. I love cycling and outdoor cycling. I love anything that will increase my ability for that. My son and I demoed CAROL Bike and we said, “This is a company that we want to introduce our people to and get behind because they are doing great stuff.” Ulrich, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me. It’s wonderful to be here.
Maybe we can start it off and talk about indoor equipment, maybe specifically exercise bikes. Where do you see this whole industry now and then where does CAROL Bike fit into the industry?
I have seen quite a boom for indoor bikes, especially over the pandemic and led by Peloton. There has been an explosion of companies that offer indoor cycling and various experiences like celebrity instructors and music. It’s somehow making it a pleasant entertaining experience. CAROL Bike doesn’t fit into that category at all. I mind if people mistake us for something similar because they see a bike with a screen and they think like, “It must be like Peloton,” but it’s nothing like it.
Peloton has long exercise classes with music celebrity instructors and so on, CAROL is very specifically focused to get you the fittest fastest. CAROL is a smart indoor exercise bike, but we are focused on delivering scientifically validated and backed workouts that get you the fittest and healthiest in the shortest amount of time. Specifically, CAROL has been shown to give you double the health and fitness benefits of regular exercise just 10% of the time.
Our workouts can be done in as little as 5 minutes with only two 20-second sprints and give you maximum health and fitness benefits. It’s a different approach to exercise and what keeps people from doing exercise. That’s the big difference between us. We are quite singular there. There’s nothing comparable out there. Many others approach indoor cycling differently.
Explain the technology a little bit as far as how is that possible. Anybody would look at it and say, “This sounds like another get-healthy-quick type of product.” How is that possible? I like to look at that and think about some of the things that were done with five-minute abs. How can you do anything in five minutes? If you crush your abs for 5 minutes or 300 seconds, you will do some improvement on your abdominal muscles. Again, tell me again how CAROL Bike is able to give us the best of both worlds and all the exercise capabilities but do it in less time.
What you do with CAROL is a workout called REHIIT, that’s Reduced Exertion High-Intensity Interval Training. That’s basically a new and improved form of HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training. Many people will be familiar with that. It has been around for a while. The benefits are completely undisputed. There’s been plenty of research that HIIT is effective. A traditional HIIT session is not all that short so it still can be 20 to 30 minutes and many people find it very strenuous. If you do multiple intervals 5, 6, or 7, and in various lengths can be up to 4 minutes, that’s a very hard workout. People find it difficult to do that.
Exercise scientists sought to find what’s the minimum effective dose of this High-Intensity Interval Training. There are years of research and many studies published on this found that the minimum effective dose is two 20-second sprints that you perform at maximum intensity. The two 20-second sprints trigger the release of certain molecules. I can go down to any level of detail that provides the physiological adaptation and the trigger for your body to get fitter and stronger.
Scientists found that two 20-seconds sprints are enough. In fact, they found that more or longer sprints would give fewer benefits because people don’t go all out anymore. For two 20-second sprints, you can push yourself to your limits. What CAROL Bikes do is make it very easy to perform such a workout. In the research labs, this was done on very special equipment with a lab technician next to the subjects, supervising the workout and operating the equipment for the person.
Push yourself to your limits.
That’s not very practical for somebody at home or in a gym. You don’t always have a lab technician by your side. When we initially heard about the research, we were completely fascinated by it and loved it, but found out immediately that you do need special equipment that didn’t exist at the time or didn’t exist for home use at the time.
We set out to develop equipment that makes it easy and accessible at home. CAROL controls the workout. Everything is automatically controlled and it guides you through the workout. Our AI algorithms set the right resistance and continue to optimize that resistance for you as you get fitter and stronger, and then apply basically, the optimal resistance at the optimal time instantly. That helps you push for very short periods of time for those twenty-second sprints to your limits. That then triggers a whole biological cascade so your muscles are forced to mobilize muscular glycogen to perform those sprints. You don’t use all of it. You just mobilize lots of it.
CAROL controls the workout. It automatically controls everything, and it guides you through the workout.
With the mobilization of glycogen, you release certain molecules like AMPK and PGC-1alpha that signaled to your body that it needs to get fitter and stronger. As a response, there are several things that happen. You grow more and larger mitochondria. Your blood plasma volumes increase and your heart muscle gets stronger. You just pump more blood with each stroke. That helps you to gain a substantial amount of cardiorespiratory fitness in a very short period of time.
That’s all just fantastic information. It makes me look back on my days. Maybe if I took a spin class or something like that, you are on some exercise cycle that initially CAROL would look like any of those, but the difference there right is that you are turning this knob to increase resistance then maybe I’m dating myself as to years ago or you are pressing a button, but it’s all self-guided. What’s unique about CAROL is that because of this AI programming is that it dials in things specific to you and based on your needs. It takes your thought process out of the equation because when we get involved we can diminish our returns.
With CAROL, it’s making sure that we are maximizing these opportunities to build, as you said, whether it’s endurance and cardiac fitness or even getting granular. You are talking about AMPK, muscle building, signaling, hormones, and mitochondrial enlargement. That’s something that’s very of big interest to myself as a cardiologist and all of our people.
We try to make it as safe, easy, and accessible as possible to perform this workout. Sometimes research fails in translating cutting-edge science into real-world applications. That’s what we want to do bring cutting-edge exercise research and make it accessible to as wide a population as possible because inactivity and not doing exercise is such a societal problem.
Going back to our initial discussion about Peloton, others, and so on, when you survey people about why they don’t exercise, very consistently lack of time comes up as the number one perceived barrier to exercise. The statistics are horrific as to how many people follow public health recommendations on exercise. It’s way too little. I have read the other day that it’s 5% of Americans that strictly follow public health recommendations.
If you listen to people, it is about lack of time. Some people say that’s not true. People have enough time to exercise and it just needs to be more entertaining, pleasant, and so on. There is intense competition for time. There are so many things you can do. There’s endless Netflix, TikTok, this, and that. We do believe people when they say they don’t have enough time. We try to make it as short as possible to give people with a busy schedule, plenty of other interests, or many distractions still the opportunity to get an effective workout into their best schedule.
Can you go longer on CAROL? Can you do a 20-minute, 30-minute, or 45-minute program? Are there opportunities to dial in that system?
Absolutely. We don’t only have a 5-minute workout with two 20-second sprints. In fact, I would argue that CAROL is probably one of the most versatile bikes out there. You can do these ultra-short scientific workouts, longer HIIT workouts, and zone-based training if you have more time. There’s a good case for also doing longer lower intensity like zone two training where you can still hold the conversation and mix that into your schedule if you have the time.
With Peloton digital, you can follow group classes if you wish. Our bike is also compatible with cycling apps like Swift. I don’t know whether your readers are into that. For all the people who have a road bike and their Lycra suit, there’s a whole range of cycling apps that let you do virtual races or virtual tours. Our bike is very widely compatible with different apps. All the big brands, generally, have the proprietary thing and if you don’t have their subscription, it’s not a break, but there’s a wide range of things that you can do with it.
To circle back to high-intensity interval training, as you said, it’s very clear in the literature that high-intensity interval training is the way to go. It makes the most sense from a paleolithic or old anthropology paleontology standpoint. Our ancestors did not go for a 45-minute jog or a 45-minute bike. They had high-intensity activity. They picked up a boulder, moved it over there, went and sprinted to chase after something or run away from something. I will agree that getting people to do that without extreme handholding is tough.
Let’s say I got a 62-year-old male patient with X, Y, and Z cardiovascular disorders and I say, “Start High-Intensity Interval Training.” Where do they start that? Where would they say, “I’m going to go to a track and I’m going to go burst into a sprint.” Again, it’s just very hard to get people to do that. What I like about what you are saying over at CAROL is that you have got this built into the system exactly with what you need. As much as I like getting outdoors, getting onto a road bike in an uncontrolled situation is just too risky as well as I do. There are too many injuries, many traffic accidents, and many people who are bad drivers. They are on technology, drugs, or pharmaceutical drugs that dull their senses. There’s a whole variety of things going on. Road riding is a dangerous proposition.
I love the idea that we can take something like CAROL and we can train for some of these activities and then do an activity where the road is controlled. It’s roped off and you are in some race and maybe it’s a 25-mile or a century ride. You are doing all these fun things but, again, it’s in a more controlled state so you don’t get injured. I know so many people that have gotten damaged. As I said, as much as I love outdoor activity and do a lot of outdoor activity when it comes to indoor activity, outside to drop into the floor and do pushups, pullups, squats, and lunges, you throw in a product like CAROL and you are set.
There is a reason why most of the research has been done on a form of exercise bike. These are very special exercise bikes controlled by a lab technician, but nevertheless, it’s exercise bikes. That’s because it’s a very safe form of exercise and it’s a low-impact form of exercise. That makes it very accessible to a wide range of users. I would not try to do the same thing on a treadmill or running upstairs because the injury risk is way too high. The other thing is about knowing how hard to go, what resistance to apply, and so on. We take much of the guesswork out.
One of the criticisms of HIIT longer-term studies was that people think they are doing HIIT but they are not doing HIIT. They get instructions and supervised sessions, but then in the field, they are not doing HIIT. They are doing something that’s like vigorous intensity or so, but then you have short sessions but not quite high enough. With CAROL, you are guided through the exercise, the right resistance is applied for you at the right time instantly, when it’s the best moment.
You get a comprehensive dashboard about your performance and see whether you are progressing or you have put in the right level of effort and get a lot of feedback. It makes it a lot easier. I don’t want to say it’s necessarily the only way. If you have some other equipment or you have a personal trainer who can coach you through that perfectly, or there are other ways to do it, but it is certainly a very easy and safe way to perform REHIIT.
It’s a lot more economical too to purchase a CAROL Bike than have a personal trainer. When time is of the essence as well for so many people. It reminds me of an old cartoon that I saw and make time for physical activity or make a lot of time for being dead, so make time for the physical activity. A lot of our readers are people with cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and heart rhythm disorders. You are not here to give medical advice, but is there anybody who is not a candidate to use CAROL?
First, in terms of our current users, we have over 20,000 users and a very wide range of ages. We go from maybe 12 or so, up to 80 years old. For people with preexisting conditions. We do recommend that they discuss it with their physician before they take up new exercise as you would with other types of exercise too, but it is a safe and effective form for a wide range of people.
My mother is 69 and she’s one of our most regular users. She uses it every other day. Unfortunately, through lower back pain, she can’t do too many other things of full activity, so she finds this is very effective to keep her fit. In terms of the benefits that you can expect, so there are plenty of studies and also studies specifically done on our bikes. Randomized controlled trials have shown some very substantial improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness. That’s VO2 max and in terms of metabolic health. Those are two examples of prevention of type 2 diabetes. Those are topics relevant for so many of us that it is a worthwhile thing to do.
We order the CAROL, it gets delivered to us, and then briefly, talk us through like a setup process before we can go riding once it shows up at our door.
You have two options. You can either get it for self-assembly which is in seven steps and it’s easy to assemble or you can get it fully assembled. You have that choice. From time to time, also we have promotions where you get free assembly. That makes it easy to set up. It’s 2 to 3 times a week the recommended REHIIT workout as a minimum. If you have more time, you can mix other workouts in. The other thing is we don’t work with showrooms. You can inform yourself on our website, CAROLBike.com. We provide a lot of information there to see whether it’s the right product or the right type of exercise for you.
We have an industry-leading trial period. When you purchase the bike, you have 100 days to see whether it works for you. There are two important aspects to this. One is, is it a workout that you can do on an ongoing basis? Secondly, does it get you fitter? For both those questions, 100 days are more than enough time to say yes or no. If you think it’s not for you, we take the bike back, you get a full refund, no questions asked. We are not scribbling at all about that.
Our new users in the 100 days managed 3.2 rides per week. That’s the average that we have got. We track that. They do even a little bit more than we recommend. The fitness improvement is not subtle. In scientific studies, they found that you get a 12% improvement in VO2 max in only 8 weeks, that’s 56 days. You’d have plenty of time to check that.
VO2 max is maybe the most important physiological marker. It’s a very important predictor of future health. A 12.3% improvement is very noticeable. It’s not subtle. I do certain things and take certain supplements where I hope that it works. I get a recommendation from a trusted influencer and opinion leader, I believe them, take it, and hope that it works. I trust that hopefully, it will pay off in 10, 20, and 30 years. With this, you know it now. You know it when you walk up the stairs and in everyday life. You have so much more energy and fitness.
To put it into context, as you age, you lose about 10% of your VO2 max per decade. If you gain 12% in eight weeks, that offsets a decade of aging. You feel the increase in fitness. We are very confident and that’s why we can offer this 100-day risk-free trial because we know that our customers do experience the difference.
There are a lot of facilities too like fitness centers and presumably, chiropractic offices have it as well.
On our website, we have a list of gyms that do have our CAROL Bikes. For example, the Upgrade Labs of Dave Asprey. They have all our car bikes like their modality to improve cardiorespiratory fitness. That would be a place where you can basically test-ride it if you want, but you can also do it in the comfort of your home because you have the certainty that if you don’t like it, we just take it back.
I’m going to make sure that we get the CAROL Bike over at Natural Heart Doctor in our home base, Scottsdale location. If you want to try out CAROL Bike, we are going to be getting that sooner than later. Stay tuned everybody who’s in our wheelhouse. Again, my team will be able to help guide you through what sounds like a very simple process, but at least you get to experience it like my son and I experienced it. That’s why we were very excited to have it. We all work on the show to be able to give people the best information.
A 12% upgrade in a VO2 max, sign me up, and sign a lot of people up because, again, so many people are struggling. This is not an easy way necessarily to get to it. There are no free rides here. As you said, there’s no capsule that you are going to swallow that’s going to make that impact, but you guys make it simple and effective enough over at CAROL Bike. Again, I appreciate you for being on this episode.
You are entirely right. It’s not a magic pill. You push yourself to your limits. If you think about no pain, no gain, there is a little bit of pain or discomfort maybe in the last 4 or 5 seconds of a sprint, but the exercise is almost over by the time you notice this and that makes it very doable. You have a little bit of pain for a very substantial amount of gain. By the time you feel it, you have basically tricked yourself and the workout is almost over. That makes it a very attainable and doable thing for our users.
Twenty seconds of discomfort or pain for 12% gain, cardiac longevity, and a home of the 100-year heart, it’s worth it. Again, thank you, Ulrich, for being on the show. Again, it’s coming soon to Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale will be the CAROL Bike. Everyone, I wish you the best now and forever on your path to the 100-year heart. We will see you next time.
About Ulrich Dempfle
Ulrich Dempfle is the CEO and co-founder of CAROL Bike. His goal was to make optimal health and fitness easier to achieve for everyone. Ulrich was not part of the fitness industry. He worked in healthcare with British health services, where his team designed and ran Chronic Disease Management programs for people with heart conditions and diabetes.
Exercise was one of the most powerful interventions, the only catch was: people didn’t do it. Then in 2012, Ulrich saw a documentary that showcased the most effective and efficient cardio workout: Reduced Exertion HIIT (REHIT). It was love at first sight. The only problem was, you could only do it in a lab. Since then, CAROL has launched the world’s only REHIT exercise bike for home and gym use.