// The simple, effective tool for every client

By using one piece of apparatus which targets numerous fitness objectives, you can create training programs for every client, from rehabilitation to sports performance, say Marietta Mehanni and Sophie Russell.

In addition to more traditional goals of strength, cardiovascular and flexibility gains, more exercisers are now looking to increase muscle endurance, core stabilisation, balance and coordination.

The Gymstick is a fitness tool designed to simply and effectively combine these objectives. Its unique design provides an overall body workout and can be used for almost any training program, from rehabilitation to sports performance.

Because it is small, light, safe and simple to use, the Gymstick can be adapted to different fitness levels and modalities. It is easy to grip because it is not necessary to wrap or hold the bands in your hands as they are attached to the stick. To increase the resistance, the stick is simply rolled in the hands so that the bands wrap around the ends.

Simple effectiveness

Gymstick’s versatility is not only limited to the range of exercises available; its portability enables it to be used for several applications, including one-on-one personal training, group sessions and personal workouts. Its effectiveness also comes from the many areas of fitness it can target.

Muscle endurance

When using the Gymstick, the whole body is actively involved even though the focus may be on a specific muscle group. The Gymstick Trios concept is based on three exercises that are repeated twice. The Primary exercise is the foundation movement, to which two progressions are added, providing other levels of challenge. As the Primary exercise muscle groups are repeated in each section of the Trios, endurance is developed through repetition.

The Chest Fly Trio demonstrates how a Trio can incorporate bilateral and unilateral movements. Photos 1 and 2 demonstrate the Primary exercise for this Trio, which is a bilateral movement. Photos 3 and 4 demonstrate Progression 1, whereby the exercise progresses to an alternate unilateral Chest Fly. Finally for Progression 2, (photos 5 and 6) the resistance is increased by moving to the left side of the stick to further challenge the endurance of the right pectoral and other upper body muscles. This Trio is then repeated with Progression 2 performed on the left.

Muscle strength

To develop muscle strength each Gymstick Trio exercise is performed for a maximum of 15 repetitions. This can be achieved by ensuring that the resistance level is sufficient to fatigue the muscles within the repetition range.

Postural alignment

One of the benefits of using the Gymstick is that it provides instant neurological feedback regarding the positioning of the shoulders and hips. This is particularly noticeable with overhead exercises that traditionally have been difficult to perform with good technique, as the line of pull from the bands requires scapula retraction and shoulder stabilisation.

Proprioception of pelvic alignment is also assisted, particularly when the stick is in the hands and the bands are on the feet. In this case, the line of pull of the bands creates heightened awareness of the lower limbs as any resistance changes are immediately felt in the upper body.

Core muscle activation

The Gymstick assists with core activation as the body is constantly challenged by the pulling of bands in various directions.

Rotational exercises that replicate functional movement can also be easily performed. An example of this is a bicep curl with an oblique twist. The Gymstick provides the resistance to effectively work the biceps and the obliques as well as encourage core activation.

Range of motion

In some weighted exercises, such as the Bench Press, the resistance is greatest at the point where the joint is most compromised. In this, the initial inertia can be difficult to overcome because the shoulder is in a compromised position.

The Gymstick is able to effectively work the same muscle group without this challenge because at the point where the shoulder is most vulnerable, the resistance is least. As the bands are stretched away from the body (photo 7), the resistance is increased. This means that range of motion can progress comfortably without any compromise of technique or potential injury.

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Within each Trio there are compound movements that require several joint actions. Multi-planar movement, direction and balance will effectively encourage greater synergy of muscle action. The advantage of training with a Gymstick is that you can combine coordination with resistance training. This is ultimately the most functional method of training. Everyday movements and sporting actions can be replicated with the advantage of having a variable resistance to safely challenge the body.

TheAbdominal Trio highlights how coordination is challenged:

  • Primary exercise (photos 8 and 9) is a reverse abdominal curl with a shoulder extension
  • Progression 1 (photos 10 and 11) is very similar to the Pilates ‘Hundreds’ exercise – while maintaining spinal flexion, the arms press the Gymstick to the floor on each exhalation
  • Progression 2 (photos 12 and 13) adds a further element of coordination challenge by including a leg adduction whilst continuing to perform an abdominal curl and a shoulder extension.


The medical site www.MedicineNet.comdefines muscle balance thus;

Balance is a biological system that enables us to know where our bodies are in the environment and to maintain a desired position. Normal balance depends on information from the inner ear, other senses, (such as sight and touch) and muscle movement.

Inherently, the Gymstick provides challenges that help improve the body’s balance system. For example, its design creates a line of pull that is away from the centre of gravity. This generates forces that challenge the body’s ability to stay in alignment and as the user adjusts to these challenges, their balance improves.

An example of this is a Lunge with a Tricep Extension. The stick is positioned across one shoulder and a band around each foot (photo 14). The immediate feedback to the upper body is to rotate the torso towards the back foot. Balance is challenged in several ways in this exercise; initially to maintain the alignment of the body, and secondly to balance on the front foot while performing the Tricep Extension (photo 18). This exercise recruits several muscle groups which play an essential role in keeping the body still i.e. gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings, erector spinae, core muscles and the muscles of the feet.

  • Primary exercise (photos 14 & 15)
  • Progression 1 (photos 16 & 17)
  • Progression 2 (photos 18 & 19).


Want more Gymstick exercise ideas?
For more exercise inspiration using this training tool, check out these articles;
A gym on a stick!
The Gymstick Swiss ball sensation

Why is the Trios concept simply effective?

The Trios concept gives the group fitness instructor or personal trainer the opportunity to incorporate different fitness principles into one exercise sequence. Muscle endurance, strength, balance, coordination, core activation and postural awareness and alignment can all be progressively challenged to provide a well-rounded program that uses resistance effectively in several planes of movement. The versatility of this equipment is limited only by the imagination.

Marietta Mehanni
Marietta is an award winning Australian presenter (Author of the Year 2007, Aqua Exercise Leader of the Year 2003) and Australian Fitness Network Ambassador with over 20 years of teaching experience in both land and water-based group exercise. Certified with AFAA, ACE, AEA, SCW and Certificate IV in training and assessment, Marietta presents conventions worldwide. She is the World Master Trainer for Gymstick International with an expertise in Gymstick Aqua and Original Indoor

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 fitness classes, she is also a Master Trainer for Gymstick Australia. For more information on the Gymstick, visit www.gymstick.com.au


Marietta is turning her wealth of fitness experience to Aquatic skills and program management at FILEX 2011. Choose from:

• Deep to the core (A3W)
Pool your assets (B40) (with Mary Gies)
• Aquacise your pelvic floor (C1U) (with Dianne Edmonds)

For program information click the links above or check out the Aqua Fitness and the Professional Development strands in your FILEX brochure. Visit www.filex.com.au to view the entire brochure and register online.