The G-Trainer uses air pressure to support your body weight while you run. It is surprisingly non-intrusive. The only additional gear required was special shorts that "zip in" to the air chamber. Once I "zipped in", the G-Trainer took my body weight and tested the pressurization levels, and I was ready to run a few seconds later.
I punched in "80% bodyweight" on the G-Trainer dashboard, and in 10 seconds the pressure in the bubble below my waist increased until I felt 30 lbs lighter. The sensation was amazing - significantly less impact on my joints, and a floating feeling with every stride. The special shorts provided uniform support (no wedgie, that is), so I didn't feel like I had to adjust my normal treadmill stride at all. With every step, the Air Pressure Differential technology was taking 100 measurements per second and keeping the weightlessness consistent.
and the brackets allow for pro athlete sized users)
Once I warmed up, I set the pressure to "60% bodyweight" and cranked up the speed. Before I knew it, I was running at 15 miles/hour...that's a 4 minute mile! It was fascinating that I could experience the turnover and stride length required to go this fast without breaking my body in half. Most sprinters wouldn't spend more than 5 minutes at full race pace in a season - with the G-Trainer, you could go full race pace every week.
I slowed down to a 7 minute mile and cruised for a while. My posture and alignment looked good, with no adjustment required for the G-Trainer. I pictured logging some long runs at 60% support, training my aerobic system, getting my body used to a solid pace, all without having to sacrifice my joints. It couldn't replace the long run, but I could certainly increase my mileage by supplementing it.
After my run, I talked with the Alter-G team - Sean Whalen, Brent Looney, Fritz Moore, and Eric Edelson - about the implications of such a system. Examples included:
- Rehabilitation - with anti-gravity support, you could begin rehab sooner and be back on your feet sooner. In fact, this is why the Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors both have one.
- Speed training - much like I experienced, you can train your body to know the turnover and stride length required to hit your top speed.
- High mileage - If supplemented, one could add considerable weekly mileage. Drop your weight by 10%, you can add 10% more mileage (actually, Alberto Salazar has his runners training at 90-97%, and swears it allows 10-25% more volume, on average - check his video testimonial)
- Obesity aid - can you imagine letting an obese person feel what it is like to be 50 lbs lighter as a start to their conditioning? Incredible pyschological power.
- Training for the elderly - for those losing their ability to support themselves, they can still train aerobically. The G-Trainer can supplement up to 80% of your bodyweight.
Check out Alter-G's web site to see more videos about how it works. There are even testimonials by Alberto Salazar, Robert Gallery (Oakland Raiders), and Chase Lyman (New Orleans Saints). Alter-G is an ambitious young company, and they are planning to have G-Trainers commercially available in 2007. For you investors out there, Alter-G is currently seeking venture investment for expansion. For all you bloggers out there, help Alter-G by linking to this story!
And since we're talking treadmills, I want to point you to this video by the band OK Go. I'll never look at a treadmill the same!
[P.S. - I have no financial interest in Alter-G.]