Do you have over $40K to spend on a treadmill from Mars? You heard it right, between $40-$80,000 will buy you the latest anti-gravity treadmill. The company making this treadmill Tech are named AlterG. This treadmill was developed with an idea NASA had for it astronauts to train on treadmills in Zero G. The concept was then reversed by Alter G. Barry Hayden (BloomBerg) explains the rest below.
If you’ve ever been sidelined with a bum knee, you’re in good company. As each generation takes up running—for sport, to shed a few pounds, or as after-work therapy—knee injuries and procedures to deal with them continue to multiply. In 2013, 719,000 Americans had a knee replaced, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up from half that number a decade before. This presents an opportunity for AlterG, an exercise equipment maker in Fremont, Calif., that licenses technology from NASA.
Its hulking treadmills have been shown to speed recovery from running injuries—shin splints, say, or orthoscopic surgery—and stave off symptoms of diseases such as multiple sclerosis. The devices, at $36,900 to $80,000, lie outside most home-gym budgets, so they’re becoming an amenity at physical-therapy clinics and boutique gyms. “Its greatest use is rehabilitation,” says Gabriel Griego, AlterG’s vice president for marketing. “But we’re hearing from serious athletes, too, who use it to extend their weekly mileage with less wear and tear on the joints.”
NASA developed a way to keep astronauts fit in low-gravity situations such as at the International Space Station. AlterG treadmills flip that concept around: They use air pressure to lift a runner, reducing her “weight” by as much as 80 percent. The NBA’s Washington Wizards bought the first one in 2007; AlterG has since streamlined the design and made it more reliable.
“Once you’re in there, you can’t fall,” says Barry Heyden, former strength coach for the New York Mets, as he zips me into an AlterG F320. Before I climbed in, Heyden had me shimmy into Spandex bike shorts and then pull on a neoprene skirt—like a kayak’s—with a zipper edge. He notes that along with people like me, recovering from knee surgery, the AlterG is especially helpful for heavier runners. He has me start walking, then dials up the “differential air pressure.” I don’t float like Neil Armstrong, but I can land on my knee without agony—a minor miracle. It gets sweaty under there, and one’s dignity isn’t spared: I look like I’m auditioning to be a centaur in Clash of the Titans. But I’m soon jogging for the first time in months.
I probably overdid it: My knee did swell over the next couple of days. But for anyone kept from the trail or track they use to clear their mind, it’s worth the price for a session you can book online at one of 1,200 U.S. locations that have one. (Some PT clinics incorporate the AlterG into their program fee.) It might seem intense for regular sessions—unless, of course, you can’t run with a normal gait. In that case, it’s magic.
Like all things technology wise once something enters the market it does so at an high price. Naturally a concept like this takes a lot of money to go from the research stage into an actualized reality. For now this equipment is in a lot of specialized physiotherapy and injury specialist clinics all over the country. It’s available to rent, albeit once you book in for an injury therapy session
But how long until this technology makes it’s way into the consumer treadmill market? Anything that helps with injury rehabilitation and also can reduce your weight by up to 80% is going to be very welcome in the treadmill industry.
Treadmills are getting smoother and smoother, injuries are now being less rare due to unforgiving hard as nails decks with poor cushioning. Although as it stands at the minute an anti-gravity treadmill is still too big for gyms and certainly homes, I don’t think it will be too long before you see them in elite football clubs and indeed all professional sports clubs around the country. Everyone from the Red Sox to Manchester United will welcome any device that can get their players back up and moving against with the least amount of impact.
After several more prototypes one can certainly see these AlterG treadmills or at least the technology within them reducing in size. Running will certainly become a smoother experience.