A gym on a stick!
by Marietta Mehanni & Sophie Russell
Gymstick was invented by a team of fitness and health professionals from the Finnish Institute of Sport whose objective was to develop a comprehensive strength and conditioning tool for the whole body. The Gymstick’s versatility, effctiveness and ability to meet the exercise needs of every body has seen it grow to now being used in over 30 countries around the world.
Gymstick is used around the world by a wide range of fitness and health professionals, including:
• personal trainers
• rehabilitation patients
• fitness enthusiasts.
The Gymstick is designed to offer total body resistance training, by allowing for hundreds of movements and variations
and replicating free weight exercises. However, unlike free weights which introduce load in a downward direction
as a result of gravity, Gymstick provides resistance in virtually any desired direction and in any position.
Gymstick also has attachment points to either side of the body’s centre of gravity, which means the more the bands are stretched, the greater the challenge on the body’s musculature to maintain a stable trunk position. This ensures the body’s core is effectively ‘switched on’ during even the most basic exercises. The instability created by this lever arch also helps to improve joint strength and stability.
In order to complete a movement effectively with the Gymstick, more eccentric control is required than when using free weights, which acts to increase the pre-loading necessary for an eff ective concentric muscle action. This assists in maintaining tendon integrity and reduces the risk of injury.
Gymstick’s versatility is not only limited to the range of exercises available; its portability makes it perfect for use in one-on-one personal training sessions, group sessions and personal workouts.
CHOOSING A RESISTANCE LEVEL
Gymstick has five options for resistance levels, making it ideal for use by people of almost any age or fi tness level. The
resistance levels are colour coded as below:
Green Light: 1 to 10kg
Blue Medium: 1 to 15kg
Black Strong: 1 to 20kg
Silver Extra strong: 1 to 25kg
Gold Super strong: 1 to 30kg
THE BENEFITS OF USING A GYMSTICK
• Improved muscle strength and endurance, balance, joint stability, coordination and postural awareness.
• Helps to develop heightened proprioception.
• Adds variety to traditional types of exercises by adding resistance that is not reliant on the body’s position in relation to gravity.
• Reduced risk of injury because the exercise bands are pulled from below the centre of gravity.
• Useful for developing explosive power in a safe and effective way.
• Compact, light and affordable.
PERSONAL TRAINING WITH THE GYMSTICK
In one-on-one personal training sessions the Gymstick offers the advantage of giving the trainer an active role, as they are effectively controlling the level of resistance provided to the client. With each exercise, this can be increased or
decreased according to the intensity required. The trainer receives kinaesthetic feedback, which assists in appreciating the level of challenge that the client is undergoing – more so than with free weights.
An example of this is the chest combo series:
• To set up the exercise, the client holds the stick in front of their chest, while the trainer stands behind the client
holding the bands. It is important to begin with an appropriate level of tension in the bands. To do this, the trainer move forwards or backwards to increase or decrease the tension. The client then extends the elbows while dropping down into a lunge (photos 1 & 2).
• Another way of adding challenge to the exercise, which will focus more on stability, is to ask the client to begin in
a lunge position with the stick at the chest and to lift off into a hip extension while extending the elbows. Both
proprioception and balance will be challenged by this exercise (photo 3).
• A progression that will further challenge coordination and balance is to have the client perform a one-legged donkey
kick as they complete a chest press (photos 4 & 5).
The advantage of using the Gymstick is that several joints and movements are in use simultaneously – and all while
completing the humble chest press.
The triceps abdominal curl combo highlights the ability of the Gymstick to combine exercises that normally would not
be possible with weighted, gravity-resisted movements.
• To begin this combo, the client is in a supine position with knees bent and feet fl at to the fl oor. The client grips the
bands, while the trainer is securing the stick to the fl oor. Appropriate tension is required before beginning the
exercise, therefore communication between the client and trainer is paramount.
• To initiate this exercise, the client is required to bend the elbows to 90 degrees and position them close to the body.
Maintaining a neutral wrist, extend the elbows while performing an abdominal curl (photos 6 & 7).
• To increase the abdominal intensity, lift the feet and execute an alternating knee and hip extension (photo 8). This
sequence adds an upper body workout to the traditional abdominal exercise.
The next series of exercises involves a dynamic component. Building from a simple one-arm chest fl y to
a power lunge forward, it requires the body to be able to decelerate with control.
• Initiate the fi rst exercise by positioning the feet in a lunge position and hold both bands in one hand. The trainer
stabilises the stick with both hands in an upright position. Care needs to be taken with the tension of the bands,
because if there is too much tension the client will not be able to control the eccentric phase of the contraction. The
client horizontally adducts the arm to the front, ensuring that the elbow stays slightly fl exed. Return back to the
starting position (photos 9 & 10).
• Progress this exercise by adding a lunge while simultaneously adducting the arm. As the body returns to the set-up position, ensure that the hips remain stable (photos 11 & 12).
• The dynamic component is highlighted by the final step which begins with the arm abducted horizontally, balancing on one leg. Step forward into a dynamic lunge while adducting the arm. Controlling the recoil of the bands, bring the body back into the upright position. This movement requires a controlled deceleration in order to finish in a balanced position on one leg (photos 13 & 14).
Try these exercises with your clients to experience the truly multi-dimensional nature of training with the Gymstick. A traditional resistance exercise can be varied, developed and progressed in numerous ways, limited only by the span of your imagination. The active participation of the trainer in these exercises provides them with the necessary kinaesthetic feedback to be able to make minor adjustments to the tension of the bands, and therefore to the intensity of the exercise as it is being performed. A highly portable and hugely versatile tool, the Gymstick is a simple way of making resistance
exercise for your clients more dynamic and much more interesting.
Recipient of the 2007 Australian Fitness Network Author of the Year award, Marietta is an award-winning instructor and presenter with over 20 years of teaching experience in both land and water-based group exercise. Qualified for international accreditations (AFAA, AEA, SCW and ACE), she presents regularly at national and international conventions. Marietta is also a course coordinator, lecturer and examiner for Certifi cate III in Fitness, Group Exercise and Aqua Leadership.
Sophie Russell, BA
Sophie is an award-winning instructor, personal trainer, presenter and author. Originally hailing from the UK, she has been based in Melbourne for the past 15 years. A lively and popular instructor of a wide variety of fi tness classes, she is also a master trainer for Gymstick Australia. For more information on the Gymstick, visit www.gymstick.com.au
NETWORK MAGAZINE • AUTUMN 2010 • PP27-30