It sounds like an odd match — combining exercise and mathematics. But Joseph Mullen insists this dubious coupling produces a blessed result: Maximum fitness in minimum time.
That claim is at the heart of his recent book, ‘‘The Da Vinci Fitness Code.’’ Mullen, 68, a former fitness-center owner and a fitness author, proposes applying an esoteric mathematical sequence to a program of exercise workouts, holistic wellness and positive affirmations.
The ‘‘code’’ refers to the Fibonacci sequence, named for Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci. In the sequence, each successive number is produced by adding the two preceding digits (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 . . .). Tailoring effective workouts, Mullen says, involves choosing the appropriate number of repetitions for an exercise based on a Fibonacci number.
Beginners might try eight reps as a minimum for each stretching or lifting exercise, and 13 reps as the point of muscle failure, the point at which you can no longer do reps with proper form. The goal: Developing a workout that harmonizes sets, reps and rest periods to Fibonacci numbers.
Harmony is the crux of ‘‘The Da Vinci Fitness Code.’’ For centuries, the Fibonacci sequence has been viewed as a key to opening a deeper understanding of ethereal concepts, in concert with the Golden Mean, which is both a mathematical ratio and an expression of universal unity, beauty, truth and goodness. Da Vinci employed the Golden Mean as a blueprint — most famously in his ‘‘Vitruvian Man,’’ which illustrated harmony among parts of the human body.
‘‘If these numbers worked for the Masters to proportion the things they created, why couldn’t they work in an exercise setting?’’ Mullen asks.
Dickering with arcane mathematics might put off some. But the program’s greatest appeal — and likely greatest source of debate — is Mullen’s claim that becoming fit ‘‘takes only minutes per day, not hours.’’
Fitness, as he sees it, means being able ‘‘to get through the day with energy and alertness, without any pain . . . and at the end of the day have energy left to do other things with your life. There’s more to health and fitness than an 18-inch arm.’’