Running on the beach, while good for your joints, probably isn’t recommended in Chicago past November.
But the creation of a new cardio machine designed to recreate the low impact surface of sand offers residents of the frozen north a way to keep running if knee injuries have sidelined you in the past.
The Sproing, which looks like a treadmill but doesn’t move under your feet, is a new cardio machine developed by Paul Toback, former CEO of Bally Total Fitness, with his business partner, fitness engineer Steve Lenz. The surface you run on is air inflated and soft, so it feels like sand under your feet.
The Sproing itself is in a number of local gyms and rehab facilities, and Sproing Sport at 1652 N. Wells St. is a boutique gym where you can take classes using the machine.
A belt around your waist connects you by a cord to the back of the machine, creating the tension that you run against – so you aren’t actually covering any ground when you run on the mat. It’s easier to watch:
Running on the machine has ¾ less impact than the ground, said Greg Maurer, Sproing’s director of education.
The High Intensity Interval Classes have you on the machine for 45 minutes: 10 minutes of warmup where you get familiar with the moves, 30 minutes of tabata-style intervals (20 seconds on, 10 seconds of rest) and a cool down.
A typical tabata on the Sproing is 20 seconds of forward sprinting, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of lunges, 10 seconds of rest. Repeat. The total class has 60 intervals.
Body strength exercises, dumbbells and “pods”, or resistance bands, can come into play. Once you get better at using the machine, which class instructors say can take a couple classes, you can make the mat softer and up the ante. The classes are meant to be different every time you come in.
During the workout, you’re expected to wear a heart rate monitor – they’ll provide you with one if you don’t bring your own – and your heart rate is projected onto a screen so you can keep your effort above 85 percent. The monitor also tracks your exact calorie burn.
There’s definitely a learning curve with the machine, but your first week at Sproing Sport is free – so you can get used to the Sproing style of running.
Check out these Sproing exercises:
Where: Sproing Sport, 1652 N. Wells St.
Cost: Individual classes are $25, discounted class packs and an unlimited class membership are available. A week of unlimited classes is free for new members.
Gilt City is also offering a deal on Sproing classes:Two classes for $25, 8 for $89 or a month-long weight loss challenge for $159.