Sport&Health recently decided to spice up its core training, boot camp and strength training classes by incorporating ActivMotion Bars.
While working as a personal trainer for Life Time Fitness, Derek Mikulski had a group of older clients who enjoyed functional training, but many of them were hesitant to stand on balance platforms or balls for fear of falling.
This inspired Mikulski to create the ActivMotion Bar, which brings the instability challenge to clients’ hands, instead of working on balance from the ground up.
The ActivMotion bar resembles a body bar, but is hollow and filled with steel ball bearings that shift gently back and forth when moved in any direction. “It not only has the weight of a body bar, but it has the balance challenge and unpredictability of a BOSU ball or something unstable,” said Teri Bothwell, the director of group fitness at Sport&Health. “You can’t see what the balls are doing, so you just feel them shift and react to keep yourself centered and stable.”
While Mikulski was inspired to create the bar through working with older adults, Bothwell explained the ActivMotion Bar attracts a wide variety of people. “It seems to appeal to a variety of fitness levels and ages,” she said. “You can put an older adult with a lighter bar — they start at 6 pounds and go up to 15 pounds — so everyone can find a bar that they can work with.”
Bothwell believes the ActivMotion Bar will be a future staple in group fitness studios and on the fitness floor because of its versatility. “You can do so many different things with it, which makes it a good investment, in my opinion,” she explained. “The speed of the cylinders as they shift is faster in the lighter bars and slower in the heavier bars, so the workout feels very different depending on the weight of the bar you are working with.”
Members seem to be enjoying the new equipment within Sport&Health’s classes. “At first they were a little unsure because it looks just like a body bar, but then we had them do some simple exercises like taking the bar overhead and tipping their body side to side,” said Bothwell. “When they do that and feel the balls shift they realize how cool and fun it is.”
Mikulski teamed up with Robert Sherman, an internationally recognized presenter and fitness trainer, to provide instructor training. Instructors are taught the benefits of using the ActivMotion Bar as well as best practices for using the bar in class.
Sport&Health has incorporated the ActivMotion Bar in 11 of its 22 locations, and plans to introduce the equipment in all clubs throughout 2015. “As we continue to evolve the formatting, we will have classes where the ActivMotion Bar is the only tool that we use,” explained Bothwell. “There are so many exercises you can do with the bar that it would be easy to fill up 45 minutes just using the bar.”
By Emily Harbourne