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Fitness at 55 M.P.H.

You’re stuck in rush-hour traffic on the Ventura Freeway. Your temper is rising along with your blood pressure. As someone cuts you off, you reflect that it’s a good thing that the Los Angeles City Council just banned semiautomatic weapons.

You’re ready for “Autorobics.”

“Autorobics” is a spiral-bound book that bills itself as “an exercise program for the daily commuter.” The brainchild of Huntington Beach entrepreneur Larry Reynolds, the 52-page tome details 24 isometric exercises that can be done either while hurtling along Interstate 5 at 55 m.p.h. or languishing behind an overturned manure truck on State Highway 23.

Each exercise (they range from “car squats” to “floorboard toe raisers”) should be done three to five times for about 10 seconds each, Reynolds said. The entire workout takes about one hour, and the exercises actually tone and strengthen, in addition to reducing stress.

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“I got tired of being a car potato, of being on a freeway with absolutely nothing to do. This helps relieve a lot of tension,” said Reynolds, who hit on the idea while stuck in traffic for three hours one memorable day. He enlisted the help of Newport Beach management consultant John Casella and Fresno sports medicine expert Charles Eldred and, presto, a book was born.

Not surprisingly, the California Highway Patrol looks askance at such exercises as “steering wheel curls” and “car sit-ups.”

“People have been involved in accidents combing their hair or drinking coffee,” said CHP Officer Craig Strauch. “Anything that would require that you take one hand off the wheel is potentially dangerous.”

Reynolds countered that each exercise can be safely accomplished while looking straight ahead and keeping one hand on the steering wheel.

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“That’s safer than talking into a car phone or looking in a rear-view mirror,” he said.

Besides, Reynolds added, “we’re not telling them to do the exercises and run into a truck.”

“Autorobics,” a paperback that costs $6.95, was released in January and is selling well although it hasn’t made it into bookstores, Reynolds said. It can be ordered from Baker & Taylor Co. in Reno, Nev., or through a bookstore.


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