As a writer, I spend most of my time in my home office: head down, researching and writing, speaking only to the dog. Days out are exciting! A week ago, I was invited into London to try out a bit of fitness kit. Here’s how it went down.
I met up with Cheryl and Katherine, two sport and fitness PRs, for a trip to the lovely Nuffield Gym in the City. Our mission: to try out the Gravity Training System.
Now. Here’s the thing. As a freelance journo, I get asked to try out a lot of sport and fitness gadgets and gizmos. A lot of them promise the world and say they can do it all, and I normally reserve a healthy level of skepticism. So it was when I went along to try out the Gravity Training System. As I tend to write for and about multisport and competitive sport, I am always after things which challenge, condition and really cut the mustard. Gravity is a bit of equipment used in 60 minute and 30 minute classes in various Virgin Active, Nuffield Health and independent gyms. (For a list and more info, see here). But I was curious: would the GTS really be all that?
Gravity, please accept my humble apologies. After just a few minutes on the contraption, I was feeling the burn.
As you can see from the pics, the GTS uses…well, gravity (!) to create a challenging body weight workout which can be used for the entire body without having to faff with weights, clips or plates.
I asked the lovely trainer Michael Steel (awesome name for a fitness trainer, don’t you think?) for his explanation of our session. All I can remember is that it was a tough workout which both got the heart-rate up and most definitely challenged my full body. Here’s what Michael had to say:
“We started the workout in an upright supine position to work the legs with bilateral squats. We set the level on the Total Gym to 6 (of 8 levels) and this was perfect for the amount of bodyweight we wanted involved in the activity. This is a great way to get warmed up. To increase the intensity and challenge the core we progressed to unilateral (single leg) squats. This instantly increased the load and, by varying the pace we challenged the glutes, quads and hamstrings. Without stopping, we introduced sports specific plyometrics (jumping activities). This increased the O2 consumption and got the heart rate up but reduced the impact on the joints.
“After training the legs, we adjusted the level to 3 for all the upper body and core exercises that were to follow. In an upright prone position, we lay chest down on the glideboard and we used the cables to work the upper back, lats, triceps and trapezius. We moved from one exercise to another and completed 8-10 reps of each exercise. We completed 6 different exercises in this position and we did the set twice. This ensured that we achieved a level of overload and fatigue. By the way, how did you feel the next day…?
“From this position we simply turned sideways and trained the body in a lateral position. We did exercises in a high kneeling position, but you can also do these exercises seated or low kneeling. The high kneeling challenges stability and requires the body to work as an integrated unit rather than isolating one muscle group at a time. We started with torso rotation (woodchops) and by simply moving the handle from one to the other we worked our chest in a fly position. Then we did a compound bicep/shoulder press using the same side of the body, then swapped hands and did a high row followed by a reverse fly. Although each exercise was targeting the chest or shoulder or bicep, we also felt our back extensors and abs, adductors and glutes firing up to create the stability and support to provide the strength in both the concentric and eccentric phase of each movement. Very effective and very representative of every day movement patterns!
“We then faced the tower in a low kneeling position and started a series of exercises that utilised spinal flexion and extension with arm activities. We call this the ‘surfer’ series: narrow rows, shoulder extension, biceps curls, triceps, upper back and lats as well as shoulder flexion. Every one of these exercises also challenged our core.
“We did a quick change here and rolled down the glideboard onto our backs in an inverted supine position. Here we focused on the front of the arm (biceps) and the deltoid group by doing upright rows, long lever shoulder flexion and deltoid raises. In the same position we also disconnected the cables from the glideboard and used the footholder to do some hamstring work for the posterior muscles of the leg and some reverse crunches.
“To finish we raised the rails again and we did a big set of partial weight bearing pull-ups and chin-ups, varying the pace in both the concentric (shortening) and eccentric (lengthening) phase of the movement. The great thing about this exercise is that most people can not do a pull-up or chin-up. Here we can moderate the load and ensure great technique. To increase the intensity we add plyometric pull-ups which required a combination of speed, power and control….fun and challenging.
“This was just a fun, total body workout that was designed to give you a sense of what working out against your own bodyweight, on a moving glideboard (surface) and controlling your body in space feels like. Total Gym and Gravity really is designed to provide an option or everyone, any client and any trainer in a very efficient and effective way.”
Thank you Michael, it was a fun session, challenging and tough and yes I definitely felt it the next day! Whatever your sport or level of fitness, I urge you to give it this bit of a kit a go if your gym has a Gravity Training System class. If I had access to one, I would use it. Gravity and Michael are on Facebook.
Oh, and that wasn’t the end of my day out. Ha, no. I then went and met my PT Kat and we did an hour’s leg workout together. (We also discussed my next fitness challenge and put some firm plans in place – I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it! So exciting!)
As a fitness journalist, I like to “walk the walk”. Days like this make that a little bit of a challenge. For the next couple of days I could hardly walk at all!