Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Alter-G Experience

     I was REALLY excited to hear about the Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill. At first I thought it might be out of reach as far as cost goes, but then I found some deals through a local trainer! I have heard amazing things from other runners about how they were able to use this machine to keep up their fitness and their running. When I spoke to the trainer about it, he even said that my speed would probably also increase on this machine and that would translate into results on the road later! It sounded so wonderful! I was so ready to try it out!
     I set up an appointment for a few days after my doctor had said I did not have a stress fracture just a shin splint. I wanted to learn more about the machine and the possibility of me using it to get and keep my body ready for the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 13th. On the day of my appointment, I went straight from work to the rehab center that had one of the Alter-G treadmills. My trainer was not there yet, so I changed into my running clothes and sat down to wait. A few minutes later, one of the physical therapists that works at the rehab center came to get me. He told me that my trainer was running late – he wasn’t really sure he would make it at all. (First alarm goes off in my head.) The therapist then asks some questions and starts to put me thru some different movements, asks me to walk, looks at my legs and feet. I was not expecting any of this at all! I suddenly felt I was there for a physical therapy appointment. I was a little worried that they would be asking for money and insurance and all of that! But I did what the therapist asked and answered the questions. Another therapist joined us as we finally got ready to try out the Alter-G machine. It was a funny looking thing!
     I was given a pair of bike shorts that were more like a wetsuit material with an attached rubber tutu. I know I should have pictures of all this, but I have not gotten very good at asking people in these types of situations  “Hey can you take my picture in this get-up for my blog post?” The rubber tutu had half of a zipper attached to it. When I got on the machine, a bubble of plastic rose up to enclose my lower half and I was zipped in. The machine is then “calibrated” and while it does this, I am lifted to my tippy toes and put down again. It was all quite comical and I could hardly stop laughing! They then set it to a percentage of your body weight and I again rise up off of my feet. The machine is supposed to reduce the amount of impact by lifting you to a point where you can still have your feet touching the treadmill but not all the way. It’s hard to explain! I was set to a point where finally as I ran my feet were touching the treadmill like they should. So far I felt fine…
     ~All the while the two trainers are setting me up I am thinking “Do they know what they are doing?” because they would question each other as they set me up. I also wondered if the trainer I was supposed to be with, who was supposed to really know this machine, would have done things differently. ~
     As soon as they left me to run, which in and of itself was a different feeling but I eventually got into a rhythm of sorts, I switched the time clock to distance. I knew how far I had run before the pain started on Sunday (the last time I had run) so I wanted to see what happened today. It didn’t take too long. At about .4 of a mile, I began to “feel” my shin. By the time I hit .8 of a mile I was hitting stop. I hurt and it was not good. They came and unzipped me and helped me out of the machine. The therapist asked me a few questions about what I was feeling and then I left. I was so upset and frustrated! The whole “ordeal” just seemed to be one big mistake!
     I had so many issues and questions now! Was it too soon?Should I have waited a full week, two weeks, longer to even think about trying this? What the heck happened to my trainer? It has now been almost 24 hours and I have not received a call or an email with any type of apology or explanation.Would things have gone different had he been there? Would I have gotten hurt if he had set me up on the machine? Why didn’t he just reschedule? This was the first time I was meeting with him. Not a good way to leave a first impression for your business!
     I know that the people at the rehab center did their best to take care of me and fill-in for him, but looking back, I wish they had left me alone too! I wasn’t there for physical therapy, I was there to try the machine.Maybe it would have been the exact same experience with the trainer, but somehow I don’t think so.
     I want to try again. I don’t have a lot of options of who to call for this so I will probably use the same trainer. Although the longer he takes to contact me about all this, the angrier I become! I know one thing for sure, I am resting my leg! Even using a bike is too much for me to think about right now. I will continue my Pilates and some yoga. I will try to find a pool to use and begin swimming. I will start with some weights at the gym to strengthen my hips. (The physical therapists said as he was running me thru the different tests that I needed to do this.) But I will avoid any impact or pressure and even prolonged standing for at least two weeks. My goal is Disney. I will participate. I must be healthy! No more crazy antics! Maybe the two weeks before I can try again with the machine.
     If you have any tips for healing, strengthening and keeping up my fitness for the marathon, PLEASE leave them in the comments! I would really love that! Thanks!!!

UPDATE: Did finally hear from the trainer. He was in a car wreck and had no way of contacting me for almost 24 hours. Still not happy with the experience, but I am moving on and trying other NON impact ways of keeping fit!

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