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Manic Monday ~ Elliptical Extras

It was over 20 years ago when I stepped in the front doors of a Chicago land fitness center to fulfill a summer internship as the final requirement of my Bachelors degree. This is when I realized what the term "state of the art" meant. As a new intern, I was required to learn about each and EVERY piece of fitness equipment the club had. It was my first introduction to the elliptical, a fairly new concept cardio machine. I was in awe of the upright, "cycle-as-you-stand," apparatus. In fact, it was obvious I had never been on one. I mean, come on.... it's Chicago. Our university apparently was "old school" as there was not an elliptical anywhere in sight of our campus. We just had treadmills, stationary bikes, Nordic Tracks, and a small hydraulic stepper. But this new innovative elliptical caught my attention more than any other machine. Perhaps it was because all 10 of them were always occupied as most of the treadmills were empty. So when it came the hour to be given the instructions to master the elliptical, I was eager to jump right on!! It had been several days of observing patrons on these machines that led me to believe this was going to be "easy." Boy, that was a misperception! It was my turn to hop on. I started the motion and it was 3 minutes into the small session that tested my endurance. I was off in 5 minutes. That is, I was done...finished! It was such a different motion of exercise and I was not use to it. I remember thinking at first that it was fun, kind of like riding a bike but standing up. But then it seemed like riding a bike standing up was actually tough! No wonder bikes have seats! Needless to say I was intrigued. Every day I made the elliptical part of my exercise session and I added on 3-5 more minutes until I finally was able to complete 30 minutes non stop. Now, it's one of my favorite exercises!

But wait, there's more!

After mastering the elliptical, I realized that my knees felt better. The elliptical is an excellent machine for individuals who need to avoid heavy impact and who want to strengthen their knees while keeping the risk of injury low. The elliptical motion takes away the foot impact you may experience if you were to walk or run. Also, rotating the elliptical motion backwards actually benefits many parts of the knee. Another great benefit of the elliptical is that it can be a great calorie burner! This exercise is actually weight bearing because the exerciser is in an upright standing position. You have to work harder than if you were seated, riding a stationary bike. And most ellipticals have handle bars that move also. This allows for more range of motion with the upper body. And I can't leave out the fact that you can even add a strengthening aspect to the motion by holding a squat and perform the elliptical motion!! This is just one variance of the exercise. One can do interval training with resistance levels and with speed levels!

Give the elliptical a chance! 3 minutes can turn into 30 minutes in a matter of weeks!

Have a GREAT week!

~Rachel Zimmerman

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