Resistance bands were not my thing
I was first introduced to resistance bands early in my teaching career in the 1990s. This long piece of elastic was recommended as a portable and effective form of resistance training. Having only used weights for resistance training, this concept intrigued me, only to be quickly disappointed.
Although the workshop presenter was very engaging and informative, I was frustrated about how to anchor the bands and perform the exercise. In addition, to add resistance, I had to wrap the elastic band around my hand either (thus reducing circulation to my fingers) or grab and hold it firmly further down the band. This process was annoyingly repeated every time I performed an exercise – anchor, perhaps try another anchor, set up exercise, maybe anchor again, add resistance, lose circulation and then move…
Often the positions were complicated and awkward, leaving me frustrated and losing interest quickly.
It only got worse
When tubing with handles came onto the market, I discovered the new version that was even worse than the original!
In my opinion, the handles reduced the exercise options even further. As a result, I avoided anything to do with resistance bands after that. Instead, I chose to stick with what worked well for me: weights and bodyweight training, and subsequently, my clients.
Sometime later, a flyer came across my desk (when I was group fitness coordinator) advertising tubing attached to a stick! I thought, ‘Oh my God! Just when I believed it couldn’t get any worse… it morphed even further and turned into a comedy! What a ridiculously ineffective tool. NO, THANK YOU!
The flyer went straight into the bin.
Avoiding an opportunity
Later that year, at a National Fitness Conference, I saw a demonstration using the tool from that flyer on the main stage at the expo. The instructors were sweating and appeared to be working hard. I thought someone must have sprayed them with water to make the workout appear intense, and this thought was reaffirmed when the distributor offered me one of these sticks to join in. It weighed nothing, and this was going to give me a workout?? What a joke!
So I walked away with my pride intact, and head held high, not having been suckered into an absurd exercise fad purchase. No way was I being fooled!
My lightbulb moment
In 2006 the YMCA had a conference that included education for group fitness instructors. I was invited to work on an expo stand for a music company. Whenever the education sessions were in progress, I would walk around and check out the other stands; low and behold, there was that stick with the two rubber bands. I tried to avoid eye contact and quickly hurried away, but the woman at the stand knew me and called me over. Trying to prevent appearing impolite, I walked over (mentally working out how to get away). She asked me if I had used one of these tools before, and I ungraciously said no. I knew what was coming next… “Why don’t you try it out?” My strategy was simple, get this over and then be done with it!
She placed the stick in my hands and asked me to put the tubing loops around my feet. Having done so, I stood up and waited reluctantly for further instruction. Now I was to step forward into a split stance and perform a split squat whilst holding the stick on my shoulders.
As I stepped forward, something unexpected happened.
Experiencing the Gymstick for the first time
Immediately I felt my body respond to the bands pulling in different directions. My abdominals responded in a way I had never felt with this exercise before. My body wanted to stay upright, and my mind immediately thought of how this would be a corrective teaching tool. As I performed several repetitions, I realised that more muscles were being used than I had experienced before with weights for this particular exercise.
As I stepped out of the exercise and removed the stick from my shoulders, I asked how I could change the resistance – ‘Oh, by simply turning the stick so that the bands could wrap around the end of the stick’. It was the best OMG moment! So I didn’t have to lose circulation in my hands! I could tighten it a little or a lot. And it was so simple. I didn’t have to worry about anchoring the bands as they were looped around my feet.
‘What else can I do with this thing’? I asked excitedly, despite my initial reservations, and the instructor proceeded to demonstrate a range of standing, kneeling and abdominal exercises.
Click here to check out my Youtube Channel playlist of Gymstick tips
I WAS SOLD!
This was so versatile, and the options appeared endless. For example, I could do all the traditional weighted exercises and then add resistance to other movements that were often difficult to intensify in a group exercise class.
I was blown away – firstly, by the versatility and effectiveness of the tool and secondly, by how the resistance bands could provide a challenging workout—realising how silly I had been to jump to conclusions about this tool from my limited experience with resistance bands. I had always thought weights were the answer for muscle overload and was now experiencing an epiphany about how resistance tubing could be effective, especially when attached to a stick.
My first Gymstick order
Walking away from that YMCA convention with an order for 20 Gymsticks, I introduced it to my instructor team. That was many years ago, and it is still my favourite class format and go-to workout when I am exercising on my own. Having a very low boredom tolerance, the Gymstick provides endless exercises that challenge my total body strength, endurance, balance, and coordination. I can add or reduce resistance to suit my needs, and I teach five regular weekly classes. I love the constantly surprised look that people have when they use the Gymstick for the first time. Many participants have bought their Gymstick to exercise at home or take on holiday. Knowing that they are continuing with exercise outside the gym makes me feel fulfilled as an instructor.
My favourite exercise tool
So glad that I was trapped in a situation where I had to use the Gymstick. I am mindful of my arrogance around what I think I know and now give new things a go before forming an opinion. I love the Gymstick, and I hope you will check it out.
Interested in learning more about the Gymstick? Join me for the FREE Effective Resistance Training Seminar on April 2nd at 10 am (AEDT)
You’re a talented writer Marietta- a natural! Loved reading this