Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
During the time I have been reporting on fitness, I’ve seen a revolving door of exercise equipment. Each time, the creator always says that it is going to revolutionize how people work out. Very few do.
So when I headed to Pilates on Fifth in Manhattan to try the ActivMotion Bar I was prepared for the big sell (though I didn’t get it). I already knew that research out of the University of Michigan had shown that the ActivMotion Bar stimulated more muscles than the medicine ball and the body bar in an exercise-to-exercise comparison. But would it be enough to shake up a long-time fitness enthusiast’s workout?
First, a word about the ActivMotion Bar: It looks like a Body Bar but it’s longer and filled with steel balls. Those balls roll around inside the bar, which requires you to engage other muscles (usually your core) to keep the bar steady while you curl, lift and swing it. To see the bar, watch this promotional video:
What’s it like? It’s deceptive. When I first picked up the bar I didn’t feel the balls moving, and then as I followed Robert Sherman through the workout I did. My single-leg deadlifts took a turn for the worse. Normally, I have stellar balance when doing this move with a barbell; with the ActivMotion bar I found myself engaging muscles more than normally do and thinking about what I was doing more in an attempt to be stable. And it could be that last nugget of this experience—the thinking—that may transform your workout.
When you’re in the weight room four days a week (give or take) the mind sometimes checks out of your workouts. Our brains are intricately important when it comes to working out. We know that the mind issues commands directly to the muscles but if you’re thinking about your to-do list (or for me it’s usually an article idea or writing one in my head), your body is losing out on the benefits of your mind being involved in your reps.
The ActivMotion Bar snaps your mind to attention so that you can stabilize the bar and your body to get your workout done. The result afterward is rubber band muscles that are slightly sore the day afterward, even when you did exercises that are old hat. And that’s the true sign of an effective workout.
For more info, visit ActiveMotion online.