STAMINA & STRENGTH: The New Gym Machines You Need In Your Life


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Saturday, December 3, 2016

The New Gym Machines You Need In Your Life


Coach tries out the latest stars of the gym floor at Fitness First

Nick Harris-Fry
1 Dec 2016
New gym machines are always viewed with a healthy amount of suspicion, often either ignored entirely or used tentatively when no one else is around to watch. Keen to get to grips with Fitness First’s new trio of machines – the Assault Bike, Sparc and SkiErg – Coach gave them a try under the careful eye of personal trainer Andy McTaggart.

Assault Bike

the Devil bikeIt’s an exercise bike with handles to push at the same time as you pedal, but don’t be fooled by its modest appearance: it’s the most horrific device ever created. “This has a nickname,” warns Andy, “the Devil bike. It humbles you. The harder you work, the harder it pushes back.”
Coach did two 30-second all-out efforts, with a massive five-minute break in between. It’s tricky to convey how hard it is, but by the end of each sprint, Coach’s arms were useless noodles. When it comes to working out, there probably isn’t a more effective minute than one spent on this bike.


As acronyms go, it’s not the snappiest: Strength, Power, Accelerated, Resistance, Cardio. The Sparc is a little like a cross trainer, except you only move the legs, using your arms to stabilise yourself as you drive against the uphill resistance.
Perfect for HIIT, it’s a low-impact yet hard way for runners to break up treadmill training. The three settings allow for different steepness, and you can use it either by itself or as part of a circuit. Coach did sets of 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of kettlebell swings. It doesn’t take long for the Sparc to render your thighs a quivering mess.


The SkiErg looks like an upside-down rowing machine, but the movement involved is actually inspired by Nordic skiing, as you pull down on the ropes in a manner similar to thrusting through the snow. “It’s very easy on the joints,” says Andy, “there’s no impact on your knees. It’s great for the whole body. You use your lats, back, legs, triceps. It activates everything.” You can go for HIIT bursts on the SkiErg, or settle in for an endurance session. Coach shared a 500m “row” with Andy on the SkiErg, aiming for max effort. It’s tough, but rewarding and undoubtedly novel.

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