Ian Hart suffered with pain for years, after injuring his back playing basketball as a teenager.
Many years later the fitness guru was running corporate training facilities in New York, when his business partner, Bojan Mladenovic, noticed him hobbling.
"He said, 'I have a secret program,'" Hart said.
Hart tried the exercise routine, which involved eight simple movements done in a specific order. His back pain disappeared almost immediately.
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Hart and Mladenovic decided to package the program, which they called Back Pain Relief4Life. Now, Hart offers the program at his two fitness facilities -- EarthFIT in Habersham Marketplace and EarthFIT on Lady's Island. The program also is available on DVD. He said people are using it around the world.
Now, Hart is promoting that program through an online reality series called "Fit or Flop." The idea is to find the next best fitness star. Contestants must audition by introducing their fitness programs to a panel of celebrity judges and fitness experts. If they do well enough, they advance to an online contest, in which the public votes. Voting begins March 13 and is open for 60 days. The grand prize winner will receive a $150,000 prize package and will be featured as an exclusive APOGEE brand.
"Everybody is taking a Band-Aid approach because they're uneducated and they don't know how to solve the problem of back pain," Hart said. "Surgery is probably one of the worst options. Medication, chiropractic, massage -- those are all techniques that help for short-term relief, but they don't provide long-term relief. They don't target the root of the problem."
Beaufort resident Sam Levin said he hurt his back 25 years ago and was in constant pain until recently. He said he went to several trainers and physical therapists, but nothing got rid of the pain for good.
In 2012 he did a Google search for "back relief" and found Hart. He started using the Back Pain Relief4Life program in June that year. After only three sessions, he had no pain.
"I'm stronger than I've ever been, and I'm literally without back pain," Levin said. "I think these guys have a very good knowledge of how the human body works. You have to put a lot of faith in them as you're working out because as you start out, it hurts. ... But once your body starts adapting and your strength starts coming in, it's pretty amazing."