Friday, July 4, 2008
Recently I made a cross-country trek in my camper-van with my trusty assistant. Along the way we had many fitness adventures. We stopped at Mark and Lisa Twight's gym, Gym Jones, in Salt Lake City; swung sledgehammers and kettlebells in the prairie dog towns of the vast western plains; hiked up and down the streets of Deadwood SD, right past the saloon where Bill Hickok met his maker; we used the Lifeline Jungle Gym on the banks of the Missouri river and afterwards, took a dip in the river. I did a yoga workout on a dock over the Mississippi river, then pitted my strength against its mighty currents. Finally, we stopped in Madison WI to spend some time with my friend, Jon Hinds, at his Monkey Bar Gymnasium...
Now, the Monkey Bar Gym is my kind of place and Jon Hinds is my kind of people! The gym has no music or mirrors and shoes are discouraged in favor of bare feet and natural body weight movement, utilizing some specifically designed equipment. The entire body gets trained, primarily the pushing and pulling muscles. Ropes, rings, parallel ladders, Jungle Gyms, peg board, suspended chains-with-handles, and a rope ladder, were just some of the amazing pieces of training equipment. Many of the devices were invented by Jon himself. One of my favorite workout challenges was his pipe-and-ropes course, suspended from the ceiling of one of the gym's training rooms. The challenge is to make it the whole way around the room, hanging from the arms while navigating the various obstacles in a single circuit. There's only one guy who's done it, a young athlete with phenomenal gripping power.
I knew I had little chance of making the circuit, but I heard tell of some other well-known trainers who'd visited before me and I simply wanted to best them! Jon tells me I did, so I'm satisfied.
One of Jon's inventions, the insidious Power Wheel, makes Pavel's evil wheel look like child's play. The Power Wheel straps to your feet, allowing you to perform a plethora of body weight exercises emphasizing core, back, hamstrings, and upper body. Jon immediately challenged me to a 100-yard challenge with the Power Wheel. This consists of locomoting on the hands, with the Power Wheel strapped to the feet, for a length of 100-yards.
He took me to the Wisconsin Badger football stadium in Madison to get the job done. Up first, was Jon's girlfriend, Jessica. She made an incredible 80 yards in the outdoor stadium but the rubber-augmented turf had heated to a scorching level in the sunshine and gave her second-degree burns on the palms. Jon and I took that cue and headed for the indoor training area, to spare our tender paws the same grim fate. Jon went first and broke his prior record of 80 yards by traversing the entire length of the field. I was nervous! Here was the device's inventor, who trains with it on a regular basis, and it really kicked his butt. I was fairly confident I'd do well because my Maxwell Strength & Conditioning system of body weight exercise includes a lot of upper body, locomotion-type movements. I was pleased to meet the 100-yard challenge! But man, was it tough, as you'll see in the video clip below.
What an amazing exercise! Every muscle in the core was lit up--plus lats, chest, shoulders and triceps. Surprisingly, my legs were quite fatigued, from holding the rigid plank position required to keep the wheel tracking properly.
The Power Wheel is one piece of equipment I didn't have in my mobile arsenal, and I like this much better than kettlebell Bear Crawls. John gifted me a Power Wheel and I intend to put it to good use! I'm telling you the next day my abs and core were so sore. Between the rope/pole course and the wheel, a bit of the monkey was knocked out of me! I encourage anyone who desires a superior core-and-hamstring conditioning program to grab a Lifeline Power Wheel. They're brutal fun.