Valley Man Invents Exercise Tool that Alleviates Back Pain

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – While working on a road construction crew 40 years ago, Ralph Nacarato’s back started to tighten up.He was putting in eight- to 10-hour days operating a 40-pound pavement jackhammer and was constantly sore.

To alleviate his suffering, he invented an exercise tool that he calls the Black Jack. Now he wants to share it with others in hopes that it could them as well.

The Black Jack is a metal bar with a slight bend in the middle. There are two shorter pieces attached horizontally on each vertical end with rubber end caps attached on the horizontal parts.

“Then I just came up with about 50 other exercises we could do with it,” says the 63-year-old Nacarato. “It was very simple.”

He has 20 to 30 Black Jacks at his house in Liberty Township, and has already sold about 100. Since he has retired from working at Avalon Downtown restaurant, he’s been looking to sell more. A friend of his who also lives in Liberty makes the product.

There are six prototypes of the Black Jack, but the original was made out of PVC pipe in 1985. Nacarato weighed 280 pounds at the time. 

Matt Costa demonstrates push ups using the Black Jack.

“As soon as I bent over, it snapped,” he says. “So, I knew I had to make it out of steel.”

The Black Jack, which has patent pending status, comes in four sizes for shorter to taller people to use, starting at $99.95 and going up in $10 increments.

Nacarato says users can do squats, curls and other exercises, even from a sitting position. Orders can be placed by calling Nacarato at 330 539 0327 or emailing him at

“You create your own resistance by just putting the foot on it and it’s just like lifting weights,” he says. “You’re creating your own resistance isometrically.”

Matt Costa, who is director of physical training for Adventures in Training with a Purpose, has used the Black Jack to do pushups and squats. 

He says when you use it correctly you can do any exercise – improving strength, endurance, flexibility and even working on deep tissue muscle.

Costa says a lot of his clients use the Black Jack. “It can be used by anyone when it is used correctly,” he says.

Pictured at top: Black Jack inventor Ralph Nacarato and Jordan Wombacker demonstrate an exercise using the Black Jack.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.