The Alter G treadmill is much like a normal treadmill with one exception: It lifts your body off the ground to simulate less weight/gravity. (Get it – Alter G? Alternate Gravity?) So, when I am plodding along, I weigh 150 pounds. However, if I was in the Alter G, I could change my weight to 50% - making me only weigh 75 pounds. Bring on the cheeseburgers! This lower weight doesn’t put pressure on my legs but still works my lungs and heart. So, I could use it if I had a stress fracture / tendonitis / torn muscle (maybe) and still get a workout!
Somewhere, the running gods smiled upon me because I was contacted by Outside PR to test one out.
When I arrived at the training facility, I was walked through the concept behind the Alter G treadmill. Before the trainer could mention the words “spandex shorts” I screamed out “I WANT ONE HOW MUCH DOES IT COST!??!!”. Unfortunately, his response was not what I wanted to hear: Either $20,000 or $75,000 depending on the model. Soooooo, not something that you can buy for your own house, but certainly something that a rehabilitation clinic could (and should) be able to afford.
So, between looking up where I could find one, I slipped on some snug shorts and zipped myself into the treadmill:
Be honest ladies, you want some of this spandex
After some quick calibration, I was off and running – and floating. While it took a few strides to get used to, running at 60% weight was VERY easy. A little TOO easy. It didn’t affect my stride at all. Normally my “conversational” pace is 7:45/mile. At 60% weight? 5:20/mile. Amazing.
Walking on the moon? Running with a
Moose Knuckle wedgie?
Either way, cranking out a 5 min miles
While running, I chatted up the trainer about when he would use the Alter G. He said that their clients (95% professional sports athletes) use it to maintain cardio fitness while being injured. He would have them run 30 min or so at 50% weight. Additionally, he said that he’d strap people in and just have them do body weight exercises (squats, lunges, etc) at less than their normal body weight. And I quote “Yeah, we’ll strap a 350 pound [football] lineman into this thing and get some of their load off of their legs.”
The business end of the Alter G
Of course, I wanted to see what the unit could do, so I cranked it up to 40% body weight and 4:00min miles. It felt like I was FLYING! The tips of my feet were just barely hitting the ground – like a duck on a pond. That said, when I was at about a 5:00 pace, I slowly turned the body weight from 50% to 100% (nothing). It felt like I had an elephant on my back! So, while I think that the Alter G would be good for rehab, I am not sure that I’d want to use it for regular training. You just don’t get the pounding that you need to effectively run on the roads.
Check the speed graph – 15 mph? Sure!!!
- You can brag to your friends about how you cranked out some 4:30 miles
- You don’t look NEARLY as dorky in the Alter G as you do water jogging
- Utilizing the Alter G system will enable you to maintain cardiovascular fitness while rehabilitating a lower body injury – ensuring that when you get back to the road (and back to 100% gravity) you’re as fast as you can be
- No, seriously - $75,000!!!!!
- It made my man bits a little warm – and I’ve heard that heat can cause my little swimmers harm. Nobody wants that.
Overall, I really think that the Alter G is a VERY valuable tool. While I am not going to buy one, if I am ever injured again, I’m certainly going to look for one of these to train on until I am 100%. So, with that, the Alter G gets me seal of approval!