Alternative Workouts: Gravity Machine

My wife has been taking a Gravity Machine class at Goodlife Fitness, and invited me to give it a try.  I’ve been sorely lacking in any strength training, and I love to try new exercise methods so I gave it a try.

The class started off with a 15 minute session in the Spin studio; most triathletes won’t turn down an opportunity like that, and if you’re in dire need of more cycling work, it’s even more true.  After breaking a sweat and getting the muscles primed up, we were ready to hit the machines.

The instructor, Kim, made sure everybody was getting settled into the machine properly; it’s easy to imagine the sliding mechanism crashing or pinching something if you use it wrong.  It was a small class, so the overall feel was like a semi-private personal training session.  The workout progressed through the body, starting with wide stance squats, then progressing to single-leg squats (which I’ve read is one of the best strength exercises for runners) then moved on to upper body work.

Pulling the cables down to make the slider (along with your body) go up was probably my favourite exercise as it worked the same muscles used on a freestyle swim pull.  The cables give you solid resistance throughout the movement in a way weights can’t, and though there are cable machines in most gyms, I find it hard to get them set up for a complete range of motion, and to be honest, there’s always someone else using the cable setup.  Speaking of complete range of motion, I ended up shortening some of the pulls to avoid the top end of the range; I’ve been advised to not do exercises with weights directly overhead, that range seems to always aggravate old shoulder injuries.  More upper body work followed, with us pulling ourselves on the slider using rows, and bicep curls.

A lot of the exercises had core work thrown in on top in the form of a crunch or glute bridge at the end of the motions, but we had an explicit core workout to end the session, which we did upside-down (though at a very shallow angle).  Hanging like that feels great on your spine, and extension/traction is a common form of treatment for lower back pain, so that was a bonus.

After the session, Kim (having noticed my good form in spinning and my triathlon t-shirt and figuring me for a triathlete of some kind) showed me other exercises they use to work the swimming stroke muscles.  These were shoulder pulls while facing down, but also with an oblique twist to emphasize the core.

While I was skeptical of a machine-based workout, I think I’ll sign up for a few more classes and hope it pays strength dividends into my triathlon racing.  Plus, it’s an opportunity to workout with my wife; the couple that sweats together, stays together.  What strange/new classes have you done?

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