Former Navy Seal and Ivy League graduate Phil Black swam with the sharks on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank and his company FitDeck is making an impact in the fitness community. 

FitDeck is a fitness company that creates and distributes 40 different decks of exercise playing cards each designed for different scenarios such as Bodyweight, Dumbbell and TRX Suspension Trainer. Twenty of the titles are available on the FitDeck iPhone app with plans to expand every title to the app and Android platform this year. 

“On the mobile side we will be expanding availability and after that, we have a new round of new titles,” says Black, founder and CEO of FitDeck. “People are asking for FitDeck TRX Rip Trainer, ViPR, Sandbag, muscle ropes, volleyball, ice hockey, football drills, and physical therapy.”

The roots of this thriving business can be traced back to Black’s dorm room at Yale University where he was a student-athlete on the basketball team.

One night Black challenged his buddies to a push-up contest in which 18 random cards were face down on the floor and they had to guess if he could do one push-up for every number shown on the cards. Those who guessed wrong wanted to one up their friends so they reshuffled the cards and took a try at PUG. (The push-up game) Men and women from other dorms got involved with PUG and the students played the game for the rest of the school year. 

After graduating from Yale, Black worked on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs for a few years then entered the Navy where he ended up as a Navy Seal Instructor.

“During my time with the Seals we would play PUG out in the middle of nowhere on aircraft carriers and submarines,” says Black. “I left the Navy, went to Harvard Business School and coming out of Harvard I thought, ‘I want to start my own fitness company. Do I want to be a personal trainer? Open a gym?’ Then, I remembered PUG and thought, ‘Why stop at push-ups? Why not have all of these Navy Seal exercises that everybody is asking me about?’”

The San Diego entrepreneur designs the workouts that he considers himself to be a world class expert on and consults fitness authorities about titles he is not so experienced in. Black suggests three ways to incorporate the cards into strength and conditioning routines.

Use FitDeck as a standalone workout, completing a deck at your chosen difficulty level and time interval. Add a deck to the end or beginning of your workouts for quick access to new exercises. Or, do a circuit training workout where you have three or four different decks and you do a certain amount of cards per deck consecutively. 

“Cater what you’re going to do based on the equipment that you have,” says Black. “Figure out what you have and use the FitDeck that is assigned to that equipment or non equipment.”

Between expertly designed movements and a variety of fitness/sports disciplines, FitDeck can add a fun, fast and effective way to improve health and fitness. Check out the first five exercises M&F drew randomly from FitDeck Bodyweight.

NEXT: The FitDeck Bodyweight Workout >>

FitDeck Bodyweight Workout

Here are five sample cards (out of 56) from FitDeck Bodyweight.
FitDecks start from $9.95, 

1. Push-Ups (Negatives)

Beginner: 4
Intermediate: 8
Advanced: 12
Place hands shoulder-width apart
Slowly count to five while lowering chest to floor
Return to starting position
Option: perform exercise on knees if fatigued

2. Reach Ups

Beginner: 8
Intermediate: 12
Advanced: 20
Begin on back with legs and arms pointing to sky
Curl upper body and reach for toes with outstretched arms
Slowly return to starting position
Maintain slow and controlled movement
Option: Reach for opposite toes for added variety

3. Cross Country

Beginner: 14
Intermediate: 24
Advanced: 40
Begin in standing position with knees bent
Jump up and extend left foot forward and right foot back
At the same time, swing arms in opposite direction of legs
Simulate cross country skiing with skis and poles
Every other arm/leg swing is one repetition. 

4. Squat Thrusts

Beginner: 5
Intermediate: 10
Advanced: 15
Drop to a crouching position wit hands on floor
Thrust legs out behind you
Return to a crouching position; stand up

5. Duck Walk

Beginner: 8
Intermediate: 12
Advanced: 20
Begin by stepping into a lunge position
Step into another lunge position with opposite leg
You will be making forward progress in this exercise
Each new step is a repetition
Tip: Do not allow knees to go forward of toes