I don’t know what it is about being sick or injured that makes me want to workout more than ever before. I know I can’t be the only person that’s ever felt like this. I sit here and dwell on the fact I’m not running, biking, swimming, and, of course, at Timed Exercise. My favorite of all those activities is definitely running.
Thankfully someone in town is trying to help you with your recovery! Alter-G came to Jacksonville about 5 months ago in November which was perfect timing for my Achilles Tendinitis that I ended up with during the Subaru Half Marathon on Thanksgiving.
I chatted with Paul, the owner of Personal Running Solutions, after a session at Timed Exercise to get his opinion of my Achilles Tendinitis, which he basically confirmed my fears. Only way to heal it is to do nothing. Althooooough, I was welcome to swing by and take a spin on his Alter-G treadmills to see if I like it. Definitely!
By now you’re probably wondering what an Alter-G Treadmill actually is (unless you already knew, that is). The theory behind Alter-G Treadmills is that it’s a treadmill with a chamber you fasten around your waist, the chamber fills with air, raising you up, putting less of your body weight onto the actual treadmill. This lowers the strain on your body making it possible for one to actually run during recovery. Lowering the strain on the body is ALSO beneficial for a runner that is NOT injured. The Alter-G would enable a runner to run more frequently (daily instead of every other day), longer (10 miles instead of 3 miles), and even faster without as much wear and tear on the legs, back, and overall body.
So mid December, Adam and I met up at Alter-G Jax which is located in the back of the Southside Baptist Church in San Marco. That’s the white church near San Marco.
(Source: Google Maps Screenshot)
First thing I noticed was a collection of DVD’s to the left when you walk in. That’s pretty nice they provide you with some entertainment. I’m sure you could bring your own DVDs or Netflix rentals too.
I was then handed a pair of shorts to put on over my shorts. I had been told beforehand to wear something similar to bike shorts. I now understood why as these were pretty similar to bike shorts themselves. If I’d worn regular shorts or something bulky, it would have bunched up and been less comfortable.
There were several pairs of shorts hanging to dry pretty much anywhere there was a spot one could hang something. It looks like they frequently clean/wash the shorts, and then hang them up to dry to keep them clean and germ-free. They probably had around 8-10 pairs of shorts hanging up.
One great thing I noticed is they have a decent locker room there. It’s not state-of-the-art, but it’s definitely big enough with several showers for a quick lunch-time run and shower before dashing back to work.
Once you pull them on, they’re actually fairly comfortable.
To get started, you walk up to the end of the treadmill so it’s just like the picture above. You step onto the light grey plastic and step into the hole.
You then grab onto the sides, and slowly raise it up to your desired height. When you go for your first visit, they’ll assist you with determining the correct height and help you get all setup.
Next, you zip yourself in! Yup, you literally are zipping your pants to the machine! Totally bizarre feeling.
“Look, ma! No hands!”
The screen in front of you has several options. First thing you do before you start the treadmill moving is inflate it. The initial inflation fills the entire bag tightly which is called calibrating. This usually takes about 45-60 secs as the bag fills up around you. Once the bag is done calibrating, you can change how much air is in the bag. The % indicates the amount of air in the treadmill. Usually you start out at 65%. You can increase or decrease it from there. At 20% you would have a lot of help from the treadmill and only have part of your weight on it. At 80% inflation, you would have very little if any assistance from the treadmill, and be running normally.
Once you’re inflated correctly, you can start walking on the treadmill. Once you’re comfortable, you can increase the speed and start running.
Each treadmill comes equipped with it’s own TV screen. You can watch DVDs while you run or another feature is you can watch yourself run! There are cameras installed to the side, back, and front of the machine.
Camera on the left.
Camera to the back.
This enables you to watch your stride and learn how to self correct while running. This to me is a really valuable tool. When I get tired, I tend to cross my right foot over in front of my left foot – but I don’t actually feel myself doing it. With this screen I can check my stride from the back and see if I’m doing it. I am pretty sure this is because I have a torn PCL in my left knee combined with the fact I’m not as strong as I should be.
Overall, the treadmill is surprisingly comfortable. I got used to being “zipped in” and didn’t even really notice it after a while. I enjoyed running on it and could actually see myself using it in the future even if I wasn’t recovering from an injury.
I tried several different inflation levels and speeds to test the treadmill out. I seemed to be the most comfortable with 65-75% inflation. This enabled slight assistance from the Treadmill while still feeling like I was running normally. If I inflated the treadmill more, it gave more of a feeling of walking on the moon. One advantage I did notice of inflating the treadmill slightly more than 75% is that I could really run at a higher speed. I could see this being a benefit to train my legs to go faster.
One negative personally is that it is in San Marco. If I still worked downtown, this would be perfect for lunchtime. I would zip on over the Main Street bridge, run for 30 minutes, do a quick shower and be on back to work probably in an hour and fifteen minutes. Not bad. Since this is indoors, I could keep a very consistent schedule since I wouldn’t be hindered by weather. Plus you won’t waste anytime driving in circles looking for a parking spot since the church has a private lot. Another bonus is that you actually reserve your treadmill online in advance. This is a great way of ensuring you’re never stuck waiting on a treadmill to free up (like at one of the typical gyms).
Another very minor negative is I did have some lower back pain. When running on the machine, it really keeps you in form and fairly straight. I personally think the back pain is just me and solely due to the fact I’m not in great shape. If I did a few good weeks of consistent weight lifting, I doubt I’d have any back pain at all.
So if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how much this all costs. They currently have the following packages available.
10x45mins sessions for $100.00
10x60mins sessions for $140.00
They are also running a special right now for the summer with unlimited sessions for May, June, and July, for $250.00. This same offer is available to high school students for $150.00.
It would also be silly for me to not mention Personal Running Solutions as well. Paul, the owner, is the brains and brawn behind Personal Running Solutions which is Jacksonville’s biggest and best running group. They offer 9 group runs per week and every runner gets an individualized schedule produced for them online. They also get great discounts of 15% off at both 1st Place Sports and Jacksonville Running Company. Members also get a network of proven professionals who have experience with runners and athletes. These doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapist give PRS members great discounts they wouldn’t otherwise have.
As you can see, he knows his stuff when it comes to running. (He also just came in third place in the Corporate Run 5k last week!)
Here are some links for more information on the Alter-G treadmills and Personal Running Solutions
Since these treadmills aren’t just just for people with injuries, Alter-G would like to give one of my readers the opportunity to try out these spacelike treadmills themselves! Fill out the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Comment on this post with what you would watch on the TV if you were to run on the Alter-G (this is required to enter the contest). You can also get a bonus entry for liking the Alter-G Facebook page, Personal Running Solutions Facebook page, my Facebook page, as well as following Personal Running Solutions on Twitter and for following me on twitter! One winner will “run away” with a punch card good for ten 45 minute sessions at Alter-G Jacksonville.
Comment below with what you would watch on the TV if you were to run on the Alter-G!
a Rafflecopter giveaway