Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Time Machine

Yesterday was a nice healthy day of grain nuts cereal, then a full salad with plenty of legumes, and then, Oh, yeah, I stepped into a time machine!

I went to a new training center with Chris from Movement First (
where I took a Physical Mobility Test to determine what areas we must work on to get my body, especially my knees, back into fully functioning movement and to more effectively lose the weight. He filmed the movements and at times it was a humbling and embarrassing process and I will be posting video soon of my progress.

The Time Machine

But at this particular studio where he shares space with other trainers there was a time machine! No, not something out of H.G. Wells, this was an Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill. At $75,000 don't look for this machine at your local gym...the U.S. Olympic Training Center, or professional sports team -- yes.

You first put on these rubber shorts with a hoop waist that simulates a clown costume. Then you zip in to the contraption on the treadmill which serves as a plastic bubble that fills with air. At first you feel like an infant in one of those walkers.

The treadmill functions like any other, but it automatically takes your weight, and then you can push a button to simulate 80%, or 65%, or 52% of your body weight! The giant bag fills with air and as you walk or run on the treadmill you become lighter! It is designed to take gravity pressure off injured knees, ankles, hips, spine, whatever. The machine is amazing -- of course it was designed by NASA.

So after getting used to the feel I upped the speed on the treadmill to 6.0, which is a quick jog, to 7.0, 8.0, 10.0 and now I was in a dead sprint and I felt like a Gazelle! My toes were bouncing off the treadmill with ease and I felt like a dog on a 4 hour car ride who is let loose in a large park. I was like Forrest Gump, I just could not stop running!

I was sprinting at 10.0 on the speed, and I was running at 65% of my body weight. I was now a freshman in High School running around with zero knee pain! It was exhilarating! I have not run that fast in literally decades and it felt so good (and exhausting!). After a while of running at full capacity I decreased the weight percentage back to 100% of my body weight. I was supposed to do this gradually, but the instructor was not around at the time.

To go from a simulation of 160-165 lbs to 240-245 lbs in a matter of seconds was like the last 20 years of my life crashing down around me. I felt like a kid with 2% body fat and hollow bones to an obese man made of lead in less than five seconds. It was the weirdest and most depressing feeling! Literally all that excess weight I gained in the last 15 years strangled me like a chain and anchor in a matter of strides.

Because my weight loss over the months was rather gradual (avg. 10 lbs per month), I know I feel better but it was not drastic. To reverse the trend and go from a 14 year old running to a 42 year old running with some excess weight was startling. I guess we learn to live with excess weight as we get heavier and heavier and forget what life was really like when we were very fit.

It was actually better than looking at pictures of my former fat self -- this was a feeling that was immediate and depressing, but in the end, motivating!


Vegan Epicurean said...

That machine sounds amazing. I remember the first time I used an aquasizer (water filled treadmill) and had a similar sensation.

I can imagine going from 65% to 100% of your body weight would be quite a jolt. That must have been eye opening. Thanks for sharing the insight.


Terrence said...

Sure thing, thanks for the comments Ali

Annie Grokjer said...

Dear Terrence,
I wonder if this machine accommodates the ones who need it the most, the morbidly obese? It could help overcome the chronic pain that afflicts us and prevents us from taking those excruciating first steps toward fitness. Congratulations on losing 10 pounds a month and continuing to blaze a path to wellness.
PS if they are looking for a volunteer... ! ; )

Terrence said...

Thanks for writing Annie. Obviously these machines were made for astronauts and athletes with injury, but what an incredible idea.

Obviously, people who are over-weight have terrific pain in their joints, so there is often a disincentive to want to go for a long walk.

Sadly, at $75,000 I don't expect them making these machines for the general public. However, walking on a treadmill on a slight incline at your local YMCA is actually a lot less painful on the knees and ankles than walking outside!

Vegan Epicurean said...

Great suggestion regarding the treadmill being easier on the joints than walking outside.

I used to work at a rehab hospital and the physical therapists also recommended water aerobics for those with injuries or joint problems.


Anonymous said...

any comment on Alter-G's lack of scientific studies? 6 years in business and they keep talking about what they're gonna do and only have case studies from PT's. This scares me.