THE NEXT STEP:
THE REEBOK EASYTONE STEP
Adding the element of instability to a classic group exercise tool can increase proprioception and improve balance, says Rebecca Small.
Reebok has been a prominent innovator within the fitness industry for over 20 years and continues to lead the field with the latest evolution of fitness equipment, the Reebok EasyTone Step. This piece of equipment combines two of Reebok’s best known innovations: the Reebok Step and EasyTone Moving Air Technology.
Since it created the EasyTone shoe in 2009, Reebok has sold over 17.5 million pairs worldwide. The shoe incorporates EasyTone Moving Air Technology, which results in micro-instability for the wearer. This instability requires the muscles within the legs and buttocks to contract to maintain stability in the body. If it works in a shoe, why not in a legendary group exercise tool?
The EasyTone Step is a platform consisting of a flat surface supported by a balance pod filled with air under each end. The pods are connected by an air flow valve which permits, controls or prevents air flow between the pods. When the air flow valve is switched to the 'on' position, air is able to travel between the pods, thereby creating an unstable surface on which to exercise. This instability adds a new dimension to training with a step.
Physiotherapists and fitness professionals have used a variety of equipment over the years to improve patients’ proprioception skills. Such equipment includes:
- Wobble boards
- Balance boards
- Balance pads
- Swiss balls.
The theory behind stability training is that by performing activities on an unstable surface, the body is required to continuously vary the intensity of contractions within the muscles in order to maintain balance. Generally, the efficiency of the brain telling the muscles how much to contract or relax improves with practise, and in most people the result is a sharpening of the proprioceptive sense within the body, resulting in improved balance.
The EasyTone Step program
The EasyTone Step program combines several of the most effective conditioning methodologies, such as Peripheral Heart Action and interval training, with balance, core and dynamic conditioning training and has been created by experienced program development specialists – fitness fx.
To teach the program instructors must complete the Certificate in Teaching Reebok EasyTone Step Course – a blended learning course that consists of online theory and a practical one-day workshop. After passing the course, there are no further updates to attend: instead, the program is updated with a new episode (a music soundtrack CD, choreography DVD, choreography notes and online access to the choreography videos) three times a year.
Every episode is broken down into 10 separate tracks, each of which has a specific training goal. The overall aim of the workout is to improve:
- cardiovascular fitness
- muscular endurance
- body composition
- additional fitness-related goals.
Although episodes are presented in the style of a group exercise to music workout, they may also be delivered as a one-to-one or small group training session by personal trainers, either with or without the music.
The following exercises highlight the versatility of the EasyTone Step:
Standing Asymmetric Rock (photo 1)
Stand on the platform, placing one foot in one of the front corners, and the other foot in the opposite back corner, so it is on a diagonal to the front foot. Press your weight into the front leg, then reverse the exercise and press your weight into the back leg.
Burpee (photo 2)
From an upright standing position, place your hands in the middle of the pods. Jump the feet back to a static plank position. Jump the feet back just behind the platform before returning to the upright position.
Asymmetric Rock (photo 3)
Place your hands on the platform diagonally at the outer edges (one hand in a top corner and the other in a bottom corner). Be careful not to allow your fingers to go over the edge of the platform as there is a risk of catching them under it as you rock. Set yourself up in the push up/plank position and move the EasyTone Step from side-to-side while maintaining the plank position.
Abdominal Crunch (photo 4)
Lie down with either the flat surface (pods down) or pods (pods up) supporting the spine. Lift the feet and the shoulders up in a static (isometric) contraction as the flat surface or pods create instability. This exercise works the core musculature and can be performed with the airflow on or off.
Pod Walk/Run (photo 5)
Standing on the pods with one foot on each, alternate your weight from one side to the other. This will create a high volume of air flow, resulting in relative instability.
Kneeling Oblique Crunch (photo 6)
Kneel on the EasyTone Step so that you have one knee on each pod. Transfer the air into one pod by shifting your weight to one side, and then transfer the air into the other pod by shifting your weight to the other side.
The original step has stood the test of time as an effective group exercise tool, and with the addition of instability a new element of challenge and a vast repertoire of new workout options have been added.
With 20 years' fitness industry experience, Rebecca has a background in sports science and is a qualified naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist. Having presented in 37 countries, Rebecca has trained an estimated 350,000 fitness professionals worldwide and is in constant demand for her cutting edge fitness concepts. A fitness education specialist, Rebecca often appears in both industry and mainstream publications, providing fitness and dietary advice. Rebecca is a member of the fitness fx program development team, alongside education director Michael Betts.