Strengthen Your Core in 5 Minutes
MH trials: Speedflex
Lab rat profile
Name:Jamie Millar, 29
Job:Associate Editor, fitness hipster
Challenge:Push my body harder and maintain motivation
Claim:A single session incinerates 700kcal with no soreness
I can pinpoint the precise moment when my initial scepticism about Speedflex evaporated: about half way through the first session, on the verge of puking, with what felt like an alien trying to burst through my chest. I politely excused myself and had a sit-down.
The press release had promised 45 minutes of circuit training, with no post-workout soreness. It’s to do with US-developed ‘isokinetic’ (hydraulic) machines that only move when you push or pull them, unlike traditional weights. By removing stress on your muscles, you cut out DOMS. It sounded a bit too ‘results with no effort’ to be true.
But it’s not effort-free. The machines apply resistance proportionally. So even if you’re a rugby player for the Newcastle Falcons (who first started using it), you’re going to find it as challenging as a retired footballer like, say, Alan Shearer (he’s invested his own cash in the project).
It’s not like any high-street gym you’ve trained in before. The isokinetic machines introduce you to a range of new moves. So when you do a bent-over row, for example, you can bring the handles into your chest but also press them away, combining a push and a pull. And on the wall is a big screen displaying the heart rate of everyone in the studio – the single biggest factor pushing you harder than the next man or woman in the room (two thirds were girls). There aren’t many workout classes that will tell you so transparently whether you’re money's worth.
Empirically speaking, the class works. I'm napalming calories, and after eight sessions in three weeks, my blood pressure and heart rate are down (the latter by 15bpm) and my VO2 max is up. My body fat is too, slightly, but I was lean to begin with. It's never going to build substantial muscle either, but that’s not an issue if you’ just want to get fit or lose weight.
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