A Gym on a Stick – Gymstick..!!

Written by Marietta Mehanni and Sophie Russell

Introduction

Gymstick was invented in Finland by a team of fitness and health professionals from the Finnish Institute of Sport. Their aim was to develop a program that can provide a comprehensive strength and conditioning tool for the whole body; they succeeded in doing this. The Gymstick’s versatility, effectiveness and ability to meet the exercise needs of everybody, has seen it grow to now being used in over 30 countries around the world.

Gymstick is used around the world by a wide range of fitness/health professionals, including:

  • Athletes
  • Fitness Professionals
  • Physiotherapists
  • Rehabilitation Patients
  • Seniors
  • Fitness Enthusiasts

The Gymstick is designed to offer total body resistance training, by allowing for hundreds of movements and variations, replicating free weight exercises. However, unlike free weights which introduce load in a downward direction as a result of gravity, Gymstick provides resistance in virtually any desired direction and in any position.
 
Gymstick also has attachment points to either side of the body’s centre of gravity which means the more the bands are stretched, the greater the challenge on the body’s musculature to maintain a stable trunk position. This ensures the body’s core is effectively ‘switched on’ during even the most basic exercises. The instability created by this lever arch also helps to improve joint strength and stability.
 
In order to complete a movement effectively with the Gymstick, more eccentric control is required (than with free weights), which acts to increase the pre loading necessary for an effective concentric muscle action. This assists in maintaining tendon integrity and reduces the risk of injury.
 
Gymstick’s versatility is not only limited to the range of exercises available; its portability makes it possible to be used for several applications:

  • one on one personal training sessions
  • group sessions
  • personal workouts

Choosing a resistance level
 
Gymstick has 5 options for resistance levels, making it possible to be used for almost any age or fitness level.  The resistance levels are colour coded for convenience:
 

Green  Light 1 – 10 kg
Blue 1 – 15 kg
Black Strong 1 – 20 kg
Silver Extra Strong 1 – 25 kg
Gold Super Strong 1 – 30 kg

The benefits of using a Gymstick

  • improved muscle strength and endurance, balance, joint stability, coordination and postural awareness
  • it helps to develop heightened proprioception
  • adds variety to traditional types of exercises by adding resistance that is not reliant on the body’s position in relation to gravity
  • reduced risk of injury because the exercise bands are pulled from below the centre of gravity
  • useful for developing explosive power in a safe and effective way
  • it is compact, light and affordable

Personal training with the Gymstick

As mentioned previously, the Gymstick can be used in one-on-one personal training sessions. The advantage a Gymstick offers is that the trainer is playing a more active role, as they are effectively controlling the level of resistance provided to the client. With each exercise, this can be increased or decreased according to the intensity required. The trainer receives kinaesthetic feedback, which assists in appreciating the level of challenge that the client is undergoing – more so than with free weights.

An example of this is the chest combo series.

To set up the exercise, the client is holding the stick in front of their chest, whilst the trainer stands behind the client holding the bands. It is important to begin with an appropriate level of tension in the bands. To do this, the trainer can move backwards to increase the tension. The client then extends the elbows while dropping down into a lunge (photos 20 & 21).

Another way of adding challenge to the exercise which will focus more on stability, is to ask the client to begin in a lunge position with the stick at the chest and to lift off into a hip extension while extending the elbows. Both proprioception and balance will be challenged by this exercise. (Photo 22)

A progression that will further challenge coordination and balance is to have the client perform a one legged donkey kick as they complete a chest press (photos 23 & 22).

The advantage of using the Gymstick, is that several joints and movements are in use simultaneously – and all whilst completing the humble chest press.
 
The following exercise will highlight the ability of the Gymstick to combine exercises that normally would not be possible with weighted, gravity resisted movements. The exercise is the tricep abdominal curl combo.

To begin this combo, the client is in a supine position with knees bent and feet flat to the floor. The client grips the bands, whilst the trainer is securing the stick to the floor. Appropriate tension is required before beginning the exercise, therefore communication between the client and trainer is paramount.

To initiate this exercise, the client is required to bend the elbows to 90 degrees and position close to the body. Maintaining a neutral wrist, extend the elbows while performing an abdominal curl (photos 25 & 26).

To increase the abdominal intensity, lift the feet and execute an alternating knee and hip extension (photo 27). This sequence adds an upper body workout to the traditional abdominal exercise.

The next series of exercises involves a dynamic component. Building from a simple one arm chest fly to a power lunge forward, it requires the body to be able to decelerate with control.

 
Initiate the first exercise by positioning the feet in a lunge position and hold both bands in one hand. The trainer stabilises the stick with both hands in an upright position.  Care needs to be taken with the tension of the bands because if there is too much tension the client will not be able to control the eccentric phase of the contraction.  The client horizontally adducts the arm to the front, ensuring that the elbow stays slightly flexed. Return back to the starting position (photos 28 & 30).

Progress this exercise by adding a lunge while simultaneously adducting the arm.  As the body returns to the setup position, ensure that the hips remain stable (photos 28 & 29).

The dynamic component is highlighted by the final step which begins with the arm abducted horizontally, balancing on one leg.  Step forward into a dynamic lunge whilst adducting the arm.  Controlling the recoil of the bands, bring the body back into the upright position.  This movement requires a controlled deceleration in order to finish in a balanced position on one leg (photos 31 & 29).
 

Conclusion
Don’t just take our word for it, give it a go… try these exercises with your clients and see for yourself how training with the Gymstick truly is multi-dimensional.  A traditional resistance exercise can be varied, developed and progressed in numerous ways, limited only by the span of your imagination.  The active participation of the trainer in these exercises provides them with the necessary kinaesthetic feedback to be able to make minor adjustments to the tension of the bands, and therefore to the intensity of the exercise as it is being performed.  A highly portable and hugely versatile tool, the Gymstick is a simple way of making resistance exercise for your clients more dynamic and much more interesting.

For more information, visit www.gymstick.com.au