By Febriliani Tan
After two months without exercise, sports writer Febriliani Tan jumped straight into suspension training with Devrath Vijay, a master fitness trainer from India. The session answered her (fat) burning questions about exercising at the new North Hill Gym.
What is suspension training?
Suspension training allows users to build strength using their body weight and gravity. Utilising a system of ropes and poles as support, users stay suspended by engaging their core muscles. Instead of focusing on specific muscle groups as with weight machine training, suspension training helps users develop their overall core strength. Improving balance and core strength are persistent themes in the goals of suspension training.
Is the training difficult, especially if you have not exercised for a long time?
There were some routines that I could not follow because my core was not strong enough. I had to adjust the height of the pole to reduce body weight and gravity to keep up. As most of the routines in suspension training mimic your usual static exercises — like squats and push-ups — you can also train at home without any equipment. Mr Vijay’s advice is to build strength gradually.
The key is to slowly increase the difficulty of the exercises to build your strength. For example, when I could not execute a chest-to-floor push-up, I was asked to do a push-up against the wall starting at a gentle angle. I was able to do my push-up with a proper posture, with my back, buttocks and legs moving as a straight line. I also learned the importance of having a stable base during a static exercise, such as by positioning my hands shoulder-width apart during push-ups.
It is also important to rest your body weight on your ankle area instead of the base of your feet. This will allow you to maintain your balance and will also protect your feet from overstraining while doing exercise.
Will my muscles get extremely sore post workout?
Mr Vijay’s approach to reduce sore muscles is to warm up with the same movements as the actual workout. He emphasised the importance of warming up the joints to avoid injuries. He recommends starting with a less intensive warm-up such as simple head and arm rotations before gradually increasing the intensity.
My workout was pretty intense but I reaped the benefits of following Mr Vijay’s warm-up regime. The next day, I experienced only mild soreness around my shoulder despite the exhausting workout.
Does suspension training only focus on strength?
The beauty of suspension training is that you can have a good mix of cardiovascular (cardio) and strength exercises. Mr Vijay incorporated speed and movements into the static exercises. I started with my arms stretching to hold on to a high pole, and knees bent in a squat position. Gripping on to the pole for support, I jumped high enough such that my chin was above the pole, and then back to the squat position.
I then repeated this movement to get a good cardio workout. It was much more fun and dynamic compared to simply running on a treadmill.
What’s the key benefit of exercising with suspension training?
The need to maintain your balance not only activates your core but also engages your mind. I loved how my mind did not wander during the exercise because I had to stay focused to keep my balance. This kept me from getting bored during the training, a welcome change from the repetition of exercising with weight machines or running on a treadmill.
How do I get started?
You can walk over to the Queenax station on the left side of the gym and ask the staff to install the Superfunctional suspension training system. Remember to ask for a demonstration before working out. It was pretty easy to pick up even for a beginner like me, as most of the movements are similar to traditional static exercises. The difficult part is maintaining your balance when you are suspended on the pole, which you can improve gradually through consistent training.