We all remember that feeling - creeping tentatively into the gym for our first time and wondering how the hell we’re supposed to use the equipment. For gym first-timers or fitness beginners, it can be pretty intimidating to figure out the strange gym tools lurking in the corners! So we’re looking at some non-traditional pieces of gym equipment to reveal how they work and what they’ll do for your body!
Gym-intimidation is a thing, and it can apply to how you’re feeling around other gym-goers… or the feeling of sheer confusion when figuring out a new piece of equipment. We can all crack the treadmill, bikes and dumbbells… but what about those odd contraptions we spy?
Ever wondered about that treadmill that isn’t running on electricity? How about those bikes that look like the terrifying love child of a cross-trainer and an exercise bike? And have you ever picked up those long, tube-shaped foam rollers and thought WTF?
You may think you know the gym inside and out, but time to put some equipment in the spotlight - you'll soon see why they'll be great in your workout and #WorthSweatingFor! Let’s dive into our top 5 strange gym tools that are sometimes ignored.
5 Strange gym tools you have to try!
1. The Skillmill
The Skillmill looks similar to a treadmill… but the conveyor belt moves manually. No electricity needed - you provide all the power! You’re in control of the speed and intensity by pushing with your feet and toggling the resistance to suit your needs.
It requires concentration and focus; there’s no emergency stop button so be sure to stay aware of your speed and endurance.
image via TechnoGym
Power, speed, stamina and agility are put to the test on the Skillmill. It gives higher activation in the glutes and hamstrings. Running, power walking, mountain climbers - you can do heaps of different moves on this resistance trainer! Maybe try Tally Rye’s workout? Hover over the vid below and hit the play button to see what she gets up to!
2. Assault Bike
Hmmm it’s got a lovely name, doesn’t it? Doesn’t quite help you if you’re feeling intimidated, but the assault bike gives an intense workout which claims to burn 80 calories a minute…. Obviously depending on how hard you go.
image via powerhouse-fitness
This bike works on air-resistance with a built in fan. The more you pedal and move the handles like a cross-trainer, the faster the fan turns. The faster the fan turns, the more resistance you encounter - cue the sweat!
As you’re in control of the speed and resistance, you can keep at a certain pace or blitz out high-intensity interval sessions to push your limits. You’re working your arms as well as your legs, giving more conditioning than spinning. It makes for a brilliant cardio workout that also increases your strength!
3. Resistance Ring or “Magic Circle”
Normally found in Pilates studios or conditioning classes, this can also be found in the gym. And if you find it, grab it for some great toning and flexibility exercises! A Resistance Ring is a circular sturdy ring that has a certain amount of resistance when squeezed into an oval shape. With inner and outer foam-padded grips on either side, you can grip them between your knees, thighs or arms to incorporate into your workouts.
There are a ton of routines you can do with a Resistance Ring - they’re a versatile tool which you can use in the gym or at home when it’s too cold to leave the house! Thighs, abdominals, upper arms and pelvic floor muscles can all be worked - just be sure to do some research into which exercises you can do with them. See below for some suggestions - hover over the video and hit play!
4. Plyo Box
They may look like nothing special… or even like they’re just storage containers for other gym paraphernalia. But the Plyo Box can be used to increase strength, balance and overall conditioning!
You may have seen videos of people at CrossFit or in the gym performing explosive jumps onto high boxes? When the boxes are stacked high, they certainly can look intimidating, but start low and build your way up as your strength improves.
Jumping from the ground up onto a height in one fluid movement can increase power, reactive and jumping abilities, and can help you decrease chances of injury. As you practise, you’ll build strength which will help your squats and deadlifts - they also make for an effective warm-up before these exercises.
As you master the box jump, you can incorporate different movements or add weights to challenge yourself.
5. Foam Rollers
If you feel intimidated with gym equipment, then take a sigh of relief with this one as it’s the least intimidating equipment in the gym. But if you don’t know how to use them, then they're pretty redundant.
Foam rollers are very popular in post-workout cool downs. Used to massage muscles, you can give yourself a deep-tissue massage to relieve DOMs - the muscle soreness that can occur in the days following your workout. Put your weight on top of the foam roller, and move your chosen body part up and down over it. This massaging can also give you more range of motion as it can loosen tight muscles.
Not only can you use it in a cool down, but you can get inventive with them in workouts too:
- Balance your feet or hands on one as you do a push-up or plank.
- Lie balanced on a roller and do leg lifts or crunches.
- Do a rolling lunge with your back foot on the roller - bend your front knee and push your back leg over the roller, allowing your leg to glide backwards for a deep lunge.
- Glide from an upward dog to a downward dog, engaging your core and rolling your legs over the foam roller - see below! Hover over the video and hit play.
Now we’ve debunked some alternative gym tools and equipment, hopefully you can see whole new world of workouts which you can try at your next session! Don’t forget, if you’re curious about equipment in the gym, just grab a member of staff and ask how it works. Once you know, you’ll soon smash it!