On Sunday, Morgan Chaffin, a professional triathlete from Omaha, finished her first full Ironman race, swimming, biking and running a total of 140.6 miles in just over 11 hours.
That's a far jump from where she was three years ago when she had hip surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Chaffin was able to get back into training with the help of a high-tech treadmill.
This summer while she was training for the Ironman race, the hip she had surgery on started to cause her discomfort. So she started rehabilitation at Specialized Physical Therapy in Omaha and was introduced to the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.
Tim Collins is a certified personal trainer based in Omaha. He blogs for livewellnebraska.com. Read more from Tim.
Chaffin, who has been a professional endurance athlete for two years, said the AlterG has been a lifesaver for her. It has allowed her to train at high intensities very quickly after surgery in preparation for events such as Ironman Arizona.
Chaffin wanted me to check out exactly why this piece of equipment was so amazing. Being a fitness professional that appreciates new fitness experiences, I was excited about the opportunity.
Before hopping on this unique piece of cardio equipment, Chaffin explained to me how it works and what it has done for her as an athlete recovering from an injury.
It is used primarily to rehabilitate people with lower extremity injuries, joint pain and movement inefficiencies. What's cool about it is that it allows people to run or walk at percentages ranging from 100 percent to 20 percent of their body weight. As the air pressure is altered, the individual will begin to feel more weightless on the belt, relieving stress on bones and joints.
Though Chaffin's hip is feeling much better, she said she plans to continue using the AlterG as part of her training regimen.
Gordon Wright, a spokesperson for AlterG, said the anti-gravity treadmill was first intended to serve as a rehabilitative tool for the elderly and for those suffering from diseases that limit full weight-bearing mobility such as multiple sclerosis or strokes.
“But the treadmill quickly found favor with endurance athletes -- Olympic runners like Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe,” he said. “And then it really took off in professional team sports.”
Wright said NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James recently posted photos of themselves on social media using the AlterG.
After Chaffin gave me the run down on the AlterG, I jumped on the belt and started running. My body from the waist down was covered by a chamber-like dome full of pressure that I could control at any given time. It was pretty intriguing. The machine literally gave me a feeling that would be similar to running in outer space.
I remember tearing my MCL playing basketball in college. For months, not being able to run or engage in intense aerobic activity drove me nuts. It would have been nice to have one of these treadmills around at that time to help me maintain my cardiovascular fitness. Getting back on the court to compete wasn't easy due to my decreased aerobic capacity.
Individuals who are struggling with losing weight are good candidates for this, too.
It's typical for people who fall into this category to have difficulty moving their bodies well, making the weight loss process slow and frustrating. I can't think of any better way to motivate a 400-pound person to lose weight than by physically showing them what it would feel like to be 100 pounds lighter.
Bottom line: This is not your ordinary treadmill and after just one use, I can see how the AlterG can benefit athletes and anyone looking to improve their fitness.
If you are interested in learning more about the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, there are several local health clinics that use the AlterG such as Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital in Omaha and Flex Physical Therapy in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Don't hesitate to schedule an appointment to try one out!