In every fitness club or gym you typically see the same exercise equipment and accessories (i.e. free weights, cardio machines and weight stack machines). As fitness clubs become more specialized and offer unique classes and personal training services members are starting to see new and “interesting” exercise items on the workout floor and in the group fitness studio. To get you up to speed on innovative functional fitness accessories and tools popping up in fitness clubs across the country we’ve listed the following fitness accessories that add new challenges and results to any workout program (in alphabetical order):
- Lebert EQUALIZER™
- TRX® Suspension Trainer™
Over the last decade the shift has quickly moved towards “functional training”. The goal of functional training is the transfer of fitness gained from exercise into improved performance in the activities of daily living. This stems from the notion that the body knows movements rather than the muscles. Traditionally, workouts use machine-based strength training which focuses on isolating muscles to increase the size and strength. Unfortunately this doesn’t challenge the coordination required to truly build optimum strength or improve performance. Each of the fitness accessories focus on training function in a way that provides alternatives to traditional fitness club offerings, provides solutions that can compliment an existing workout program for improved results, can help someone get past a workout “plateau” and can effectively improve one’s overall quality of life.
Bodyblade is a device that trains the body using both inertia and vibration. It was created to challenge the deep dynamic stabilizers of the spine (which is the primary source of strength and stability for all movement, physical activity and sports performance). Bodyblade is unlike any other piece of exercise equipment because of the application of low level vibration and inertia. The Bodyblade rapidly changes directions at a rhythm of 4.5 cycles per second (270 times per minute) as the blade moves back and forth. The harder you push and pull on the blade, the greater the oscillation or flex in the blade. This requires more force output to neutralize the speed and movement of the blade. You have to start, stop and change directions of your own body while controlling your mass. The Bodyblade automatically adjusts to each user. It produces a workout perfectly matched to each individual’s size, strength and muscle endurance.
Bodyblade tends to normalize the way in which the joints function, eliminating the potential for imbalance that can occur with other exercise systems. It also permits a high efficiency of motion, producing the greatest rehabilitation gains with the least amount of effort.
For more information on Bodyblade, visit their website at (www.bodyblade.com).
Lebert EQUALIZER™ Total Body Strengthener
The Lebert EQUALIZER is a versatile tool used to challenge functional strength, muscular endurance, joint stability, coordination, power, speed and flexibility. Participants use their own bodyweight as resistance and have the ability to “self-spot” in an effort to maintain proper form throughout the exercises (self-spotting refers to the ability to use the legs to assist the user when performing exercises). Adding more repetitions (without having to stop and change weight or resistance), increasing the volume of work and decreasing rest time in between exercises makes for a more challenging and effective workout. The result is greater muscle endurance and strength.
The Lebert EQUALIZER can be used in the following ways:
- Bodyweight Training: In an upright position the EQUALIZERS can be used for exercises like tricep dips, back rows and knee lifts. When lying flat on the ground, the EQUALIZERS can be used as handles for pushups.
- Weight Training: Each EQUALIZER weighs 8 pounds and can be used as hand weights for exercises like bicep curls, shoulder press and side raises. They can also be used to add additional weight to leg exercises like squats and lunges.
- Agility Drills: EQUALIZER can be used as a hurdles or agility obstacles. In an upright position an EQUALIZER can be used as a hurdle to jump over or move under. When lying flat on the ground it can be used for foot pattern training and low clearance speed training.
- Cardiovascular Exercise: For use primarily in anaerobic exercise, a single EQUALIZER can be used for jump repeated jump training in short bouts. An example would include side-to-side skier jumps (both hands on the top bar while the feet jump repeatedly from side to side over the bar).
For more information on the Lebert EQUALIZER, visit their website at (www.lebertfitness.com).
TRX® Suspension Trainer™
Developed by Navy SEALs, the TRX Suspension Trainer uses body weight and gravity to challenge the body and simultaneously develop strength, power, endurance, mobility, durability, balance, flexibility, and core stability.
The TRX Suspension Trainer is a portable training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s bodyweight using hundreds of exercises (instantly adjustable/modifiable for any user) to accommodate a wide variety of fitness and training goals.
TRX Suspension Training is based on three (3) principles:
- Vector Resistance Principle: When performing exercises in a standing position, placing your feet closer to the anchor point (the point from which the TRX is suspending) will increase resistance (weight/load on the muscles) and heighten the challenge. Stepping farther away from the anchor point will decrease resistance and make movements easier to execute.
- Pendulum Principle: When performing exercises with your feet in the foot cradles (typically on the ground), moving your feet away from the anchor point will increase resistance and heighten the challenge. Moving your feet towards the anchor point or behind the anchor point will decrease resistance and make movements easier to execute.
- Stability Principle: When performing movements with a narrower base of support (feet or hands closer together or when using just one arm/one leg instead of both arms/legs) will increase the challenge of TRX movements. The wider your base of support, the more stable you will be during TRX movements and the less challenging they will be to perform.
For more information on the TRX Suspension Trainer, visit their website at (www.trxtraining.com).
ViPR (“viper”) is a rubberized training device, with integrated handles, designed to challenge whole-body integrated movement. The tube-like device, three feet in length, comes is various weights and diameters for added challenge. With a library of over 9,000 exercises (and more on the way) the ViPR combines the benefits of dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, stability balls and balance accessories into one training device.
The ViPR was developed because most movements and exercises performed in a gym setting do not replicate the movements of real life. A training system needed to be developed that challenged our bodies’ ability to experience added loads without injury. Our bodies lift things, shift from place to place and rotate to achieve optimum performance. The body is designed to spread forces and stress out into the system through each joint and tissue in the body. The more effectively that this is accomplished, the less injury will plague the system. The unique ViPR design provides comfort and freedom to accomplish such things for people of all shapes, sizes and abilities.
For more information on ViPR, visit their website at (www.viprfit.com).
Ask a Personal Trainer …
Now that you know more about the “mystery” equipment that has made its way into your gym we suggest you seek out a personal trainer to show you how to use them correctly and to see if they are the right addition to your workout program. Each of the fitness tools outlined in this article come with extensive education and training for fitness professionals to ensure that the people who use them get the most out of their workouts.
As we learn more about the needs of the human body and uncover innovative technologies and tools in the search for more effective results in our exercise endeavors the list of fitness tools will continue to grow over time. Stay tuned for more innovative fitness accessories and ways to use them in future posts.