The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 22, 2013

Former Conneaut man wants to put county on the fitness track

ASHTABULA — A bizarre-looking contraption resembling the love child of a subway car and a recreational vehicle is the newest physical fitness development to hit Ashtabula County.

The “Training Train” may appear unorthodox, said its creator, former Conneaut resident Mark Gombar, but it blends entertainment with a good workout for up to 12 people at a time.

“People are dropping some serious weight,” he said.

Instructions are simple. While strapped in safety harnesses that dangle in rows, exercisers push the wheeled device using their own muscles or with the slight aid of a tow vehicle, Gombar said. They grip horizontal bars that can be set at varying heights to work different muscle groups, he said. Just about anyone of any age can benefit from a trip aboard the “Train,” Gombar said.

While as few as two people can propel it, the best workout happens when it has many users at once, Gombar said. Inside is an electronic board that keeps tabs on the effort expended by “teammates,” who in turn are urged on by motivational music piped through the cabin.

Businesses use it to help workers exercise en masse, Gombar said. It’s also popular with families, he said.

“It’s a great team-builder for employees,” he said. “There’s a lot of energy in here. It’s very motivational.”

Gombar, 52, and a business partner devised and designed the “Training Train” earlier while he was living in Arizona. Gombar took the “Train” to Maine a few months ago, and now will be spending a few weeks in Ashtabula County.

A member of the Conneaut High School class of 1979, Gombar was a wrestler in high school. He coached the sport at the high school and college level after moving to Arizona. That background in athletics prompted Gombar to find a way to make fitness more enjoyable, he said.

The appeal is in the competition that ensues when several people are inside the “Train” at the same time,” Gombar said.

“It’s fun but it’s intense,” he said. “It changes people’s attitude toward exercise.”

The “Train” is towed to the client’s address, which in itself can be an event, Gombar said. “You can’t believe the stares I get (from other motorists),” he said.

Sometimes, people are alarmed by the rig’s strange appearance. Gombar recalled the time someone — seeing the “Train” scooting around a parking lot — called the police.

“They thought we were trying to steal it,” he said, laughing.

Doubters quickly become believers once they board the “Train,” Gombar said. “Some are skeptical at first, but once they get in it, they’re hooked,” he said.

For more information on the “Training Train,” contact Gombar at 440-228-5018.

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