Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Try it Tues: Alter G Treadmill

Being injured is never fun. For me, there is always a nagging voice in the back of my head saying: “Hey gimpy, remember all of those track sessions you grunted and gasped through? All that work is slipping away. Have another donut” I hate the voices inside of my head. Fortunately, there are a number of great companies that offer alternative ways to maintain fitness while allowing your body to rehabilitate itself. One of the best examples? The Alter G treadmill.

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


  • $75,000!?!!
  • 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!


Runners Fuel said...

How is everyone getting to test this thing out?? So jealous!!

Chad said...

Is this seriously a try-it post about a 30k machine? LOL

Nobel4Lit said...

I would LOVE to feel what it would be like to run after cutting half my weight/have severe dietary issues that would cause me to lose 50% of my weight...

ShutUpandRun said...

Dammit. That poor son of your will never have a sibling due to the Alter G.

I'm getting you one for your birthday. Just so you know.

Tricia said...

still havent heard back from them about getting me a freebie. cant figure out why they wont respond to my emails

kilax said...

That is so cool you got to try one of these! I have read about them in Runner's World and think they're really neat. Perfect for injuries, like you said. I would love to try one someday!

Adrienne said...

Aren't you doing a giveaway of one of these? If not I think this post is totally lame :) !!

Her Name Is Rio said...

Somehow I did not get an invite to try this out. Humph!

Becka said...

I ran the half marathon. I struggled a bit too. At least it wasn't warmer? Great job,

Run Jess Run said...

Isn't that what Paula Radcliffe used to train when she was preggers?

Brian said...

Very cool. I'd never heard of this. How does it work -- does it actually lift you off the ground?

If so, that reminds of of this:

Kovas said...

There has to be a spac cadet joke here somewhere, it's just not coming to me, damn. You can get a similar effect by wedging yourself into the baby swings at the park.

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

Was SUAR suggesting she's getting you an Alter-G? Or another kid???

I hope your man-bits recover... and that seal does look awfully approving.

The Green Girl said...

Where can I sign up to try this? So awesome!

Morgan said...

I would steal babies to be able to run on one of these until I am injury free. Just saying.

B.o.B. said...

I want that. (Said like guy on Napolean Dynamite.)

Morgan sent me over here b/c and I quote: "O.M.G. you don’t know Adam?!?!?! Beth he talks about poop and puts up pictures of unicorns pissing rainbows!!!!!! He is so your speed!"

Hi Adam!

Whitney said...

You had me at moose knuckle.


Chris K said...

I tried to start a Runner Mom Bikini Calendar to raise money for SUAR to get one last year.

Maybe you and Kovas can start a Spandex Calendar to raise money for yours.

Amy said...

I enjoyed your line about 'something a rehab clinic could (and should) be able to afford. Clearly your husband doesn't own a rehab clinic!!!!