When you look around your typical gym it’s interesting to see how people tend to congregate in little groups. You’ve got your muscle bound bodybuilders and powerlifters at the free weights, the lithe young girls and new Mums on the CV machines, and you’ve got a few yoga and martial arts fanatics flexing and stretching on the mats.
But then there are the darker and emptier corners of the gym, the parts with unusual looking torture devices that are hard to make heads or tails of, and where no one ever seems to go… These are the shadow lands of the gym, the regions too strange and alien for the majority of us to venture near, but if you dare you’ll find that they hold wondrous secrets…
So what on Earth am I talking about? Well I’m referring to the more experimental and unusual training equipment that some gyms order in to try and get ahead of the curve. These are the items they hope will catch on, or that will attract a slightly different clientele, but in many cases they just get ignored seeing as they aren’t what people are used to.
This is a waste though because actually, those unusual devices and implements can provide you with some of the best workouts out there and if nothing else trying different things in the gym is a great way to shatter your plateaus and to shock your body into action. Here we will look at some of best and most unusual training equipment in the gym so that you stop letting those hidden gems go to waste.
The suspension straps are the ropes with handles that hang from frames in the corner of some gyms. They have mats underneath them and can be adjusted to different heights, and the idea is that you use them for a range of bodyweight and core stability exercises.
For instance, rather than doing press ups on the floor, you can do them suspended with your hands in the straps and this will allow you to dip lower down while challenging you to keep your body straight using your core muscles. Likewise you can use them to do pull ups at an angle, or put your feet in them for a range of sit-up type movements.
If you chat to any of the trainers in your gym about kettle bells, then chances are that you’ll find they’re rather enthusiastic. This is because they know just how effective and versatile they are – essentially providing you with the benefits of dumbbells but with a different kind of handle.
This allows you to swing them around yourself to train your core, to string moves together (such as squats, curls and press ups) and even to target different supporting muscles in your forearms when you do basic curls.
If you ever had to climb the rope in gym class as a kid then the experience may have left you mentally scarred. Regardless of the teasing and the fear of heights though, climbing a rope is fantastic training for your forearms and your lats and a brilliant way to build endurance. These rope machines then take advantage of that without any of the danger, by challenging you to drag a rope against resistance while sitting down and bracing yourself against knee pads. The rope is round so you can climb indefinitely, but after five minutes you’ll be begging for mercy.
More and more gyms now have punching bags set up for you to use and this is a fantastic way to build muscle and to burn a lot of fat. You’ll be surprised just what an intense workout hitting a punch bag is, and there are few things that can get your heart pumping so quickly. More to the point it’s also rather satisfying meaning you’ll actually look forward to having a go…
If you have a box of equipment near the exercise mats in your gym, then ab rollers are likely to be in there. These are small devices with wheels attached to a handle, and the idea is that you then hold on to them while rolling your arms out in front of you and back in. You can do it while resting on your knees for an easier version, or from standing if you really want to punish your stomach, but either way it’s going to provide an intense workout and give you quite a burn in your gut.
Steven Rooney is a certified fitness trainer. He believes in eating healthy and drinking lots of water is a good way to purify your system and prevent an kind of illness. He is an integral part of a flourishing family wellness center in Fargo.