Gravity machine mixes strength training and Pilates for a full body workout
In this series, fitness professionals study how exercise trends are living up to the hype.
The Gravity machine is like a cousin of the Pilates Reformer. Like the Reformer, the Gravity machine consists of a movable platform (on which you can kneel or lie face up, sideways, or face down) sandwiched between a foot plate and a vertical tower. The tower has pulleys and bars attached. Unlike the Reformer, the Gravity Platform can be placed at different angles, from almost parallel to the ground to almost vertical.
So if you like the idea of ââusing a mobile platform to strengthen your entire body, you’re in luck – gravity classes can be found all over the country. (T-Squared Personal Training in Vancouver, for example, or DBS Fitness in Montreal.) I tested the Gravity classes in Toronto at Embody Fitness (490 Eglinton Ave. W.) and Gravitate Studio (1947 Avenue Rd. # 206 )
Embody and Gravitate not only promise that gravity classes provide an effective and efficient full body workout, both websites stress that the workout is suitable for everyone. I decided to test this claim. I brought two fitness buddies with me for a taste of the class, each with their own body quirks. Julie, who is 33 years old and three months after giving birth, came to Embody, and my mother, who is 63 and has a problematic lower back, accompanied me to Gravitate.
What to expect
A gravity warm-up usually involves lying on your back while pressing the platform back and forth until your legs are burning; you change your leg placement, change tempo, pulse, then finish with a single leg workout for that extra burn. The main body of the class differs depending on the teacher, but in my experience it includes at least one set of arms facing the tower and pulling your body upwards, one set of arms facing away from the tower. ride and a plethora of variations on the board.
Most of the exercises are almost identical to what you would do on a Reformer. For example, both types of classes often include a variation of the plank where you balance your feet on the fixed footrest while moving the platform forward and back with your arms.
There was one exercise that was unique to Gravity that I loved – it targeted the glutes. Photo sitting on the platform holding the straps, facing the tower. Keep your legs straight and your feet inside the cables as you use your butt to press the cables sideways. After a million reps, we then did little pulses. Believe me, I felt my butt the next day.
I feel comfortable recommending Gravity to almost anyone – it’s safe, empowering enough, modest enough, and motivating as you can easily assess progress. It is rare praise. I am generally quite conservative in offering endorsements; I tend not to recommend studios and courses unless I know them personally. The large number of participants in a typical group exercise class means that it is nearly impossible for the teacher to monitor everyone’s fitness.
One of the reasons I feel comfortable recommending Gravity is that most classes can only accommodate six or eight participants, which means the teacher can monitor fitness and adjust exercises and weight. intensity as needed.
Gravity is also relatively accessible. We all have enough reasons to skip a workout – âfearâ of a workout doesn’t have to be one of them. My mom said she felt proficient on the machine very quickly and the training wasn’t overwhelming but still a physical challenge. Some degree of comfort, ease, and fun is essential – too many people stop training if the workout, gym, or classroom environment makes them feel silly, out of place, or out of shape.
My mother and Julie also appreciated the relative ease with which they could assess their progress; as you get stronger you just change the angle of the platform. My mom felt that being able to move the platform to a different level – and thus have tangible proof of better physical condition – would be very motivating. I agree. It’s always empowering to be able to say, âThree weeks ago I couldn’t do this, but now I can.
In the end, my mom and Julie left feeling taken care of. My mom is considering renting the space for a fitness-themed birthday party; she thinks he can meet the needs of all his friends. Julie found the workout to be difficult, but safe given her current fitness level. She didn’t feel overwhelmed by the prospect of going back. I also had fun; my whole body felt worked, but not in an extreme sense.
One final note: You may particularly like Gravity if you want to experience the main benefits of Pilates, but generally find Pilates classes too slow. I like the precision needed for a Pilates Reformer class, but I know a lot of people find the nuances boring. Gravity is an interesting mix of weight training and Pilates. It offers the best of both worlds; it provides the Pilates heart and body-mind consciousness with a slightly faster and more âweight roomâ (but still safe) pace.
Kathleen Trotter is a personal trainer, Pilates equipment specialist, and author of Finding Your Fit. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter @KTrotterFitness.
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