Gravity-defying workouts lift fitness routines

Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:31am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More exercisers are taking their fitness to the air these days, held aloft by technology borrowed from sources as far-flung as the space program and the circus.

Experts say if you adhere to the learning curve, going anti-gravity can be just the thing to relieve overused joints and revitalize an earthbound routine.

Stephen Csolak, fitness manager at a Manhattan branch of Equinox, the national chain of luxury fitness centers, uses an anti-gravity treadmill, called Alter-G, on a range of clients, from marathoners to the morbidly obese.

"You have this bubble around you and you're floating on top," he said, describing how the Alter-G, which was developed from NASA technology, uses air pressure to gently lift the user.

"If we remove a percentage of someone's body weight by altering the effect of gravity, we come up with a lot of different benefits for a lot of different populations," he said.

So marathoners can train for speed and endurance with reduced risk of injury, older adults can exercise with reduced pressure on their joints and the obese can work out unencumbered by their extra pounds.

"Being on the anti-gravity treadmill allows the obese client to feel their target weight, what they'd feel like if they were 20, 30 or 40 pounds (nine, 14 or 18 kilograms) lighter," Csolak said.

First lessons on the Alter-G are supervised, he said, and clients get hooked easily because it's such fun.   Continued...

A student takes part in an "antigravity" yoga class at the Om Factory in New York August 16, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton