You’d think Alter G, a treadmill that includes the words anti-gravity, means I can run faster and feel less tired after a workout.
My muscles disagreed. Admittedly, it could be because I haven’t been working out for ages. When I say ages, days, months or weeks aren’t even close. Try years.
But that’s the beauty of Alter G. It’s great for slobs who need to get back on track or folks on the road to recovery from an injured ankle or busted knee. Even marathon runners turn to Alter G to level up their cardiovascular system.
As to how effective it is, I spent a good hour familiarising myself with the machine, coupled with a demo and an actual hands legs-on with the anti-gravity treadmill. Warning: you’ll soon see graphic images of someone in a really, really tight pair of pants. Proceed with caution.
At first sight, the machine looks like any other treadmill, the only difference being a slack plastic cover that will expand and form a bubble of air pumped in by the machine. My lower body was trapped in a pair of air-tight pants (hence, our earlier disclaimer). It gets pretty snug, so come prepared with a pair of bicycle pants to stay comfortable.
The whole point of the air-tight pants is to attach yourself to the earlier mentioned plastic cover. Once that’s done, Alter G will start to pump air into the sealed cover until the pressure is neutral and balanced to your body weight. The process doesn’t take long, and truth be told, you might be surprised by new sensations along your lower body. We’ll leave that for you to experience and let your imagination do most of the work for now.
There are really only two controls you’ll need to know once you start using Alter G - weight and speed. Adjusting the former will determine how many per cent of your weight is left, while the latter determines the treadmill’s movement speed.
Even at 20%, the term “float like a butterfly” comes to mind. It’s almost as if you’re tiptoeing, and your soles won’t land on the treadmill anytime soon. There’s no need to worry about losing balance, as the zipper firmly grips you around the waist, acting as a counter-balance even when you’re swaying to one side.
Your freedom is still mostly unrestricted, though once the weight setting gets lower, there’s a tendency for your body to lean forward. A somewhat uncomfortable experience at first, but it forces you to straighten up by shifting your upper body weight, hence working the right back muscles.
More after the break...
The whole idea of Alter G isn’t for you to run at 0% of your body weight. It’s meant to lighten the load, so you can run longer (for marathon runners) or have less impact on your feet (for patients). Me? For someone who has an aching back because of poor posture (and also, for being overweight), this is immensely useful. Less weight and an extended running duration gave me the illusion that my muscle was working less, even though I felt my heart pumping more blood through my veins.
Thing is, you won’t feel the strain during the workout. Similar to a treadmill run, the muscles are constantly put to work, but the lower impact and level running field doesn’t make them scream till you alight from the treadmill. Lessening the weight makes it even easier, or so I thought.
10 minutes later, I returned to my usual weight, and I can hear my muscles screaming, “Why? Why? WHY?!” before the guilt and soreness sets in.
Grounded to reality
Underestimating the Alter G, especially when you think the anti-gravity feature will make it easier, is a deadly mistake. My legs and back were sore for a day. The only consolation is that I can still walk fine.
But two days later, the positive effects kicked in. My back had a new lease of life, but it was a short reprise. I blame it on my poor sitting habit and refusal to climb flights of stairs. The experience was surreal, to say the least, and the mid-air floating sensation was quite out of this world.
That said, Alter G isn’t meant as a plaything. It’s a therapy machine, assisting patients and serious runners with their training. If you are genuine about improving your well-being, drop a call or email the centre to arrange for a screening and session with the anti-gravity machine.
READ MORE: Thinking out of D-Box in Singapore