Running on the beach is one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately, I live in the Midwest, so my chances to run on a beach are limited to vacations and work trips to the coast. But a new piece of fitness equipment on the market is hoping to bring that beach-running feel to people in all areas, even those in land-locked parts of the country. Recently launched at the IDEA World Fitness Convention in L.A., the Sproing cardio machine uses bungee resistance and a soft platform to create a running experience that is low-impact.
Unlike a treadmill that has a moving platform, the Sproing has no moving pieces. Instead, you wear a chest strap that it attached to a tethered bungee with resistance and run forward, pulling away from the tethered platform as far as you can. Below your feet is a stationary soft platform. Users have two types of surface options to run on. One is filled with air for an easier workout, and one is filled with special high-density foam for a more intense workout that feels like running on the beach. Although there’s no treadmill belt, the Sproing can measure your movement and steps. With custom built-in sensors, it measures your footsteps and tells you how far you’ve run.
The company claims that running on a Sproing cuts knee impact by 50 percent and has 41 percent less impact on your back, when compared to running on a traditional treadmill. Part of this is because of the soft surface, the other is because of the way you have to run when on the Sproing. When tethered, your body naturally leans forward and you run high up on the balls of your feet, rather than your heels. Another bonus of this piece of cardio equipment is that you can’t really fall off of it (unlike a treadmill).
While I’ve never actually been on a Sproing, this piece of cardio equipment is pretty darn intriguing. Most running injuries are impact-related or are caused by improper form. The fact that this both reduces impact and helps you to run in a more biomechanically efficient way (kind of like Chi Running), is interesting. Because the soft surface of the Sproing is even, it also takes away one of the biggest risks of running on soft surfaces. Additionally, the calorie burn of running on a softer surface is increased versus running on a harder surfaces like asphalt or concrete, so for those looking to really burn calories, this type of a workout can help.
With all of that being said, I do think that this type of workout could get old. Unlike beach running where you have beautiful scenery to look at and people to watch, this is just another piece of indoor cardio equipment. Additionally, unlike a treadmill, there is no way to change the incline and there is no automatic way to change the speed (you would just have to speed up your legs). Also, on a treadmill, it’s nice to have the option to run or walk. On the Sproing, it seems as though running is the only option.
Despite these things, I can still see this being a nice break from hard surfaces outside or the dreaded indoor treadmill, particularly for those prone to injury or needing a high-intensity workout with less impact on the joints.
August 30th, 2011