Soldier Finds Strength in Iraqi War, Mother's Illness

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09.24.2013By

Michael Volkin’s military career began just few days after September 11, 2001 when he joined the Army. After basic training he landed in Iraq as a chemical operations sergeant.

He had another job in Iraq. He served as his company’s fitness trainer. With no equipment in Iraq, Mike and his trainees quickly became experts in bodyweight exercises (pull-up, squats, planks, etc.).

Several years later when Mike’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, he brainstormed ways he could help her regain her strength.

“I was living in California and she was in Texas,” explained Mike. “I thought, ‘What can I do to help her half-way across the country?'”

Again, Mike returned to the basics: bodyweight exercises. But this time he put the exercises on playing cards with instructions on how to do them and for how many reps. He started his mother off with five exercise cards.

“Mom loved these cards,” said Mike. “I knew they were portable enough for her to take anywhere, and the exercises required no equipment so she could grab a workout wherever she was, in the hospital, at home, wherever.  Her energy level went up and she asked me to make more.”

Mike eventually developed 114 cards, which he packaged in three decks and called Strength Stack 52. To take the cards to the next level, Mike has launched a Kickstarter campaign.

“If the project gets funded, I’ll be able to place a large order of all three decks of cards,” said Mike. “Funding also helps me develop more games, so you can play the Stacks with more fun and variety.”

All the cards are labeled by skill level and difficulty. They’re even color coded by body part. For example, if you want to focus on leg exercises you can just pull out the yellow cards. Each card also has a QR Code that when scanned shows you how to properly perform the exercise.

Mike is a humble guy, and claims that creating the cards was an accident. But judging from the attention Strength Stack 52 is getting it’s at least a happy one. The cards were recently featured on NBCs Today’s Show and in Women’s Health Magazine.

Mike’s Kickstarter project runs through October 19th. He’s already raised $2,239 toward his $5,500 goal.