New Gym Toy…Er, Equipment

They just can’t leave well enough alone. My space at the gym has a new neighbor.

react eccentric trainer

reACT Functional Eccentric Trainer

How dare they! I wasn’t even consulted about the placement! (When will these people understand that I am Queen of the Gym?)

In true Cammy fashion, I immediately dismissed the reACT Functional Eccentric Trainer as a gimmicky piece of pseudo exercise equipment. (Does scoffing burn calories?) I can get all the functional exercise I need without some piece of machinery to do the work for me. So I ignored it, in favor of using my space for real exercises like jackknifes on the ball and hamstring curls.

Here’s the thing, though. There was this sign on the wall that said, “Do NOT use this machine without assistance from staff.” Every time I saw it, I couldn’t help but think, How difficult can this be? It’s a platform. You step on it and push that green start button.”

Since I’m nothing if not infinitely curious, I sought out a gym person and asked her to show it to me. Basically it’s just as I thought. You stand on the platform and push the green start button. Woo, big bicep workout there.

But then the platform begins to rise and fall in a circular pattern. You can just ride it like that, which provides absolutely no benefit at all, or you can do as intended and relax your knees so that it pushes your knees up into the squat position. Kind of like a reverse squat. It’s a teensy bit fun for about 15 seconds, and then the muscles really start firing. Firing, as in on fire. I lasted about 20 seconds, dismounted, and said thank you. And that was that. Except it wasn’t.

Ever since the Great Pickleball Fiasco of 2011, I haven’t been able to do lunges and squats as much as I had previously. I can do about six of each before my knee goes Twang!, and given my lack of medical insurance, I haven’t wanted to push it too much. (Kind of like that old joke: Patient to doctor: “It only hurts when I laugh.” Doctor: “Then don’t laugh.”)

Anyway, what I remembered from my very brief session on the silly exercise machine was the absence of twanging. That, and the fact that the machine and I were going to be neighbors in the gym, prompted me to try again. I lasted for three 30-second sessions (about 15 squats each), and my legs were trembling when I got off of it. Calves, quads, glutes–they were all done in. But not my knees.

Cut to this past Saturday. I was at the gym for elliptical work, and I saw a super-fit guy on the machine (the only other person I’ve seen using it), and I realized I’d been doing it wrong, at least as far as form goes. I’d been leaning forward too much and letting my legs come up too far. I suspect my knees were going out over my toes, which is a big no-no. So when I got home, I enlisted the help of Google and found a great video explaining the proper use of the trainer AND the real benefits:

Ohhhh, now I get it! Perhaps I was too hasty in my initial assessment. There’s a first time for everything, I guess. {cough!}

According to the website, the benefits of using the reACT include:
– Rapid increases in muscle mass, strength, and power compared to other training methods.
– Improved balance, coordination, and kinesthetic awareness.
– Improved core strength and stability.
– Injury prevention by improving the muscles ability to absorb force.

I like all of those, especially now that I’ve looked up kinesthetic awareness and know what it is. ([The] body’s abilities to coordinate motion (such as pitching a baseball) and the body’s awareness of where it is in time and space (think dancing).”)

Armed with my new knowledge of the proper use of the trainer, I tried again yesterday. I’m pleased to report that I completed one 40-second session, followed by two 30-second sessions. I also tried a few lunges, as described in the video, as well as some side squats. (Boy, were those weird!) No knee pain at all.

I’ve set a goal of doing 3 one-minute sessions, and if I truly see the benefits of it, I’ll move on to the goal of doing it without holding on. (For now, I’ve got a death grip on the thing! LOL) At some point, I’ll also try some regular squats and lunges to see if my ability to do those without any twanging is improved. Also, I might try to move up from the beginner level. :)

My new gym neighbor and I might just get along after all, even if it does make my space a bit cramped.

Have you ever changed your opinion on an exercise or a piece of gym equipment after actually doing/using it? Or am I the only one around here who makes snap judgments?

Funny note: When I was resting between sets on the trainer yesterday, two people came up and asked me a bunch of questions about it. Thanks to watching the video, I was able to come off as a real expert. (I hope I pronounced kinesthetic correctly.)


12 thoughts on “New Gym Toy…Er, Equipment

  1. Based on your description of this activity and my knowing you, I’m waiting for a 60-second video demonstration of you on this piece of equipment. I’ll spare you the details of my imagination, but let’s just say ROFL. Thanks for providing me a giggle on the morning I’m getting ready to take Bill to the airport headed home and seriously, if this allows you work something you’d thought you couldn’t, I’m am really glad for you.

  2. I have never seen this machine, but it looks interesting. Anything to make squats a little more exciting 😀

    I used to pooh-pooh the assisted chin up machine until I moved to a new gym where I was really too short to reach the chin up bar without pulling over a stacked chair (too embarrassing). So, I started using the assisted machine, which turns out you can use totally unassisted if you want. It’s not a bad thing as long as you don’t let the assistance hinder progress.

  3. I would LOVE that machine! I have to do eccentric exercises as a part of my physical therapy, and it would be so GREAT. 😀

  4. I have to be careful of my knees too. I watched the video although I’ll probably never see one of these machines. It was very interesting. If it really does strengthen you with no knee problems, that will be fantastic.

  5. Never seen this & now I so want Cammy!!!! Thank you for writing & the video! I have changed my mind in both ways – wanting to do when I did not & also finding something was not right for me when I hoped I would like it! :)

  6. LMAO! I have missed you, Cammy! That thing sounds amazing, especially the no knee twang part. I have not seen one before, but will ask about it at my gym!

  7. That’s quite a piece of equipment! I’m sure my legs would be quaking in less than a minute! :-) Very interesting how they come up with stuff like that and how simple it LOOKS. I’d just like to get a new treadmill, or my big wishlist – a treadclimber! I don’t want to go out to the gym, I like working out at home. Happy New Year! :-)

  8. I’m in dire need of some kinesthetic awareness! I suppose it will be a while before that wonder machine hits our shores…

  9. My new gym has 2 of these – I have seen them in action and it looks hard! My knees would never make it!!

    I have been using this gliding machine for my aerobic work out – I like it and it doesn’t hurt knees or hips!

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