THE POWER OF THE SKILLMILL
There’s a new tool in the gym and it’s waiting to turn you into a better runner. Meet the SKILLMILL. It’s like a treadmill, but not quite. The main difference is that it doesn’t have a motor controlling the belt – it’s all you, baby. Like a hamster controlling its wheel, your running action makes the belt move – faster when you run faster and slower when you slow down. If your gym has a SKILLMILL (at Virgin Active, look for it in the HEAT studio), here are three reasons to hop on... 1 It’s great for the peaches.
That action of propelling yourself forward on the belt recruits more muscles during your run – especially the muscles in your butt and the backs of your thighs, says Ceri Hannan, national product development manager at Virgin Active SA. “You can recruit muscles typically neglected on a traditional treadmill. The posterior chain – that includes your glutes, hamstrings and lower back – gets a major makeover!” And because this is more similar to running outside, it’s better prep for race day.
2 Your form will be better.
According to gait and posture reports, most people tend to run with a heel-to-toe foot strike, but experts believe that the sheer force of striking the ground heel-first can be jarring to your whole skeleton and may ultimately lead to injury. “The SKILLMILL’s curved surface supports a more widely encouraged form of running – short, quick strides where the forefoot hits the ground first to cushion the impact,” says Hannan. “As you pick up the pace, you’ll find it impossible to heelstrike.” The curved surface also engages your core more, forcing you to maintain proper posture in order to keep your balance.
3 You’ll run more mindfully.
“Unlike with a treadmill, the machine can’t hold a manually selected pace – basically there’s no cruise-control option,” says Hannan. The result: you’re much more aware of your speed and balance and what you’re doing to control them. So instead of just switching off your brain until “you’ve reached the maximum time allowed”, you can concentrate on making little adjustments to your run and focus on how they feel in your body.