Last week I had my first ever ViPR workout. I was calling it V-I-P-R until our class instructor informed me that it was just pronounced “Viper”! But what the heck were these strange looking tubes? Well the name is an acronym for Vitality, Performance, and Reconditioning and the device itself is a weighted hollow tube around 48 inches long with grip points that you can use to add resistance to your workouts. It looked like a rather simple piece of equipment but as a fitness tool it’s actually very versatile. The simple shape and grip handles mean that you can perform any number of movements that include pulling, pushing and twisting – patterns we all perform in our daily lives.
ViPR is certainly no easy workout. It focuses on core strength and is a great device for performing functional exercise using all three movement patterns. This ensures that you work muscles that may normally be left dormant when using traditional gym machines or other fitness equipment. It can be dragged, jumped over, carried, thrown, rolled, tilted, stepped on or flipped. I like to fact that I felt my core and legs burning within just a few minutes! We were holding it above our head’s whilst performing jumping jacks, pushing it infront of us during sit ups, doing ski-hops across it from side to side, performing squats, upper cuts, side lunges and even pushing it along the ground. I was amazed how many circuit based exercises could be performed with this device. I thought I was pretty fit but this really pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
Whilst the device looks a bit faddy, in fact I found it to be a great workout and it has certainly proved to be a popular piece of equipment to use amongst both recreational exercisers and sports such as martial arts and cage fighters. Whilst I would probably not want to spend a whole hour using the ViPR, it’s fun and a great addition to any workout routine.
Over the years I have tried many classes from Body Pump to Tai-Bo. One of my favorite activities is without doubt Kickboxing. I’m not talking competitve Muay Thai here just regular Kickbox. Chances are that your local gym will offer these classes just for women and I have done one-to-one kickbox sessions with my personal trainer which has been great fun. So if you’ve never tried kickbixing before, why bother? Well, simply stated, kickboxing gives a workout that delivers both the benefits of cardiovascular exercise plus resistance training in one. You will improve your strength, agility, core, tone and flexibility all in one go.
The first time I did kickboxing I was in the gym and we had hang bags that we had to kick. The skill was to balance firmly on one foot with your whole bodyweight and then generate explosive power in the kicking leg. Easier said than done. Just try repeated kicking for 3 minutes non-stop on one side then switch to the other. Let me tell you, all your muscles will be burning and your heart pumping.
Kickboxing whilst mainly involving kicks also uses combination punches too. You can do kickboxing in classes where you kick or punch the air and you can also do sessions that involve kicking hangbags or even padded strike shields held by your trainer or instructor. The later will give you a much tougher workout. I have to confess that the benefits of fat-burning and fitness play second fiddle to the immense satisfaction I get from inflicting pain on the hangbag or strike shield! What this says about me I don’t know! However, it really releases tension like nothing else I’ve tried – just what you need after a long day.
For women I think the benefits can also extend into the real world with valuable self-defense techniques. You learn how to guage distance, to land punches and kicks and stay on your feet! Don’t just think its for the younger ones either. In the first kickboxing class I attended there were woman there in their 50’s who all seemed to be enjoying themselves. If you have never tried this before then find yourself a local class and give it a try or simply try to work in some kickbox into your regular routine. They say that 30 minutes of intense kickbox can burn as much as 250 calories so there’s few better ways to burn fat, tone your core and feel great.
About 5 years ago I was encouraged to try out the foam roller by my then gym instructor in New York. I had no idea what it was or that it would hurt so much. Since that day I have never gone near a foam roller since. But a few months ago I was reading up about the foam rollers and I thought I would give it a go. I purchased one off of Amazon and began using it at home. With a bit of practice I found that I was able to get to grips with it much better than before but still wanted to make sure I was using it correctly.
Foam rolling for those who have never tried it is simply a way to improve recovery and reduce soreness. It has become one of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment and I think everyone should use one. It can work out kinks and knots in your muscles through self-myofascial release. It loosens muscles whilst promoting mobility. It can replace the BOSU or Swiss Ball trainer for many common exercises and is used very often in Pilates classes too to give a whole body workout.
So today I went to my first ever foam roller class. Never knew such a class existed but when my friend Kate told me about this I had to give it a try. Kate our class instructor asked if anyone had done foam rolling before. I eagerly raised my hand and she then produced a foam roller for me with lots of rubber spikes on it! This she said is a rumble roller and handed it to me with a smile whilst the rest of the class got a regular foam roller.
Kate then spend the next 45 minutes showing us the different movements and positions to hit troubled spots that none of us had reached before. She was able to adjust the exercises for those with small injuries so that we could all join in. I have to say there were groans of pain from most of us – this thing does hurt – but Kate told me well done for sticking with my roller. There is no doubt it can be quite painful but as the saying goes…no pain, no gain.
So many times when I am exploring new routines I focus specifically on cardio and neglect the toning and strengthening exercises. So when I first heard about TRX Suspension Training I was intrigued to hear that I could tone, sculpt and get a great cardio workout at the same time.
Being quite obsessive I read up all about this exercise. Was it a type of training or a piece of equipment? I wasn’t too sure. Well in fact TRX is a form of suspension training developed by the Navy Seals and then has permeated the fitness clubs. It relies upon harnassing the body as a natural form of resistance but by being suspended allows movements that would be impossible otherwise. Emphasis is on toning and strengthening and it is particularly good for the core. I wanted to do it!
So I research on the Internet how I could take part and I found a class offered by Virgin Active GTC (Group Training Class) in Barbican, London. I did plenty of research first about the different exercises – I didn’t want to be caught out on the day! Knowing that it all orginated with the Navy Seals I knew it would be tough but I was up for the challenge.
When I turned up at the class it was full! A good sign. We were introduced to our trainer Paul who told us all about the benefits of TRX training and how it will improve our balance, flexibility, strength and cardio fitness and that we can choose our own difficulty level..that was good to know!
I have done so many routines of squats and lunges and so I knew that I needed to shake up my routine with something new – and I was excited by giving this a go! I know that the body can get stale with any repetitive routine. I can assure you that my body was in for a shock that day! I was asking so many questions to Paul and I am sure he must of thought I was the strangest client he had ever come across. What I loved about TRX was that in every exercise you could just shift your bodyweight to make the exercise harder or easier – we were taught by Paul about progressing and regressing each exercise and he demonstrated this with each new move.
The first move he had us doing was a plank where we had the put our feet through the straps. This was harder than it looked and laughter all round as many fell flat on their faces, but we all soon got the hang of it. We had to move our legs from side to side whilst holding in our stomachs and wow within a few seconds I could start to feel my abs working. We continued into many more routines including lunges and tricep work – is there no muscle this device cannot hit! It seems not.
The acid test for me is always 2 days later and yes, my body was in agony. I know that this was the shock my body needed. I loved TRX and have continued to attend classes since. I have even asked my hubby to buy me my own TRX for Christmas. I am sure I can do it in the home and have seen many folks using it in the park too. I have now progressed to using the TRX rip-trainer which is a great addition to my workouts.