By FABIO COMANA
There is no shortage of training devices on the market, but not all are worth your hard-earned money. ACE exercise physiologist Fabio Comana, M.A., M.S., recently evaluated two popular new training tools—Core-Tex and ViPR—to determine if these new products are costly gimmicks or could be valuable additions to your training repertoire.
The Core-Tex™ is a reactive training device capable of training balance, stability, mobility and other important skills needed for sport, occupation and life. The 30" diameter platform is cradled within a base unit that contains ball transfers to allow the platform to move in all three planes of motion (tri-planar) while simultaneously moving the position of the body over the base (translation). The optional handrail with three height adjustments provides needed support for novice, rehabilitating or senior users
- Core-Tex™ Complete with Handrail ($595.00) plus DVD with safety instructions and multiple exercise options
- Core-Tex™ Standard ($519.00) plus DVD with safety instructions and multiple exercise options
Based on first impressions, the Core-Tex™ may be considered a balance-training device, but after trying it, one realizes it goes beyond balance, stability or even core training. While most balance-training devices strive for improved static stabilization on an unstable surface, the Core-Tex is designed for whole-body dynamic stabilization over its unique platform. This trains additional skills that include reactivity, power and coordination. It is this unique characteristic of the Core-Tex that generates simultaneous tri-planar movement and translation that differentiates it from other balance-training devices that either work in all three planes (e.g., wobble boards) or offer translation in one plane (e.g., Indo Board™), but do not combine the two. However, this key feature may also prove to be very challenging, which is why the optional handrail should be utilized for first-time and novice users. Additionally, there are two interchangeable options for the bumpers that hold the platform within the base—the larger bumper creates less motion for new users, while the smaller bumper creates more motion.
The accompanying DVD offers multiple exercise options that range from simple to advanced, either with the handrail to assist with single-leg and more advanced movements, or without it by simply lifting the platform off the handrail (without any need for tools or disassembly).
With the handrail, the user has full 360° access to the platform for various positions, including standing, sitting, kneeling, quadruped (plus hands-on-floor option), supine, hands-on/feet-on-floor, feet-on/hands-on-floor or a unilateral position with one foot on and one foot off the floor.
The Core-Tex weighs 33 pounds, plus an additional 9 pounds for the handrail, making it portable for most. The base and platform are both constructed from durable ABS plastic and features a non-slip rubber surface and bumpers for safety and security. The steel handrail is powder-coated for durability and has a foam-rubber handrail grip for added comfort. The Core-Tex contains three stainless steel ball transfers that can be easily re-positioned within the base to adjust the degree of platform reactivity.
What we liked:
- Offers a unique experience that is both fun and challenging
- DVD provides a good variety of examples for beginners
- Accommodates a variety of different exercises in multiple positions—has multiple applications from physical therapy to sports performance
- Facilitates training multiple parameters of health and fitness (e.g., balance, power, reactivity, coordination, anaerobic endurance)
- Features a sturdy, stable base and is well-constructed
- Does not require power output and needs little to no maintenance
What we didn’t like:
- Exercises could be intimidating to new exercisers; requires proper use and instruction
- Standing exercises may be initially too challenging for some individuals
ViPR™ is a new functional training tool that resembles a hollow tube, either 40” or 48” in length, with three handles to accommodate a variety of grip patterns. Constructed from a durable molded rubber, it is virtually indestructible and can be carried, tilted, dragged, thrown, flipped, stepped on and rolled, both indoors and out. The shape and various grip handles enable multiple movements and exercises that include lifting (pull), pushing (press), shifting and twisting, all patterns we perform in our daily activities. Sold exclusively to the fitness industry and fitness professionals through Fitpro™, the ViPR is available in seven different weights: 4 kg (8.8 lb), 6 kg (13.2 lb), 8 kg (17.6 lb), 10 kg (22 lb), 12 kg (26.4 lb), 16 kg (35.2 lb) and 20 kg (44 lb). Several packages are currently available to facilities and professionals (check with Fitpro, North America for complete pricing):
- ViPR 14-pack: 2 x 4 kg, 6 kg, 8 kg, 10 kg, 12 kg, 16 kg and 20 kg ($2,700 plus shipping and handling)
- ViPR PT Basic: 1 x 4 kg, 6 kg, 8 kg, and 10 kg ($600 plus shipping and handling)
In an era where the concept of “functional training” has garnered tremendous attention and popularity, the most effective training tools are those that combine purposeful motion and resistance with functional movement and training. A review of our activities of daily living and the movements performed repeatedly (e.g., putting away groceries, playing with children, working in the yard) makes it clear that those same movement need to be trained under load. Unfortunately, traditional gym equipment and exercises are devoid of this functionality, focusing more upon muscle isolation rather than whole-body integration (or emphasizing one over the other). While muscle-isolation training is sometimes desired or needed within an exercise program, the attainment of true movement efficiency and optimizing health–fitness–performance goals depends largely upon incorporating integrated (whole-body) movement in all three planes of motion (directions). ViPR offers the versatility of accommodating muscle-isolation exercises while offering the freedom to move three-dimensionally during almost any movement pattern (i.e., lift, press, shift or twist) anytime or anywhere. This versatility and the range of available tube weights can meet the needs and training goals of most clients—from the post-rehabilitation client to the performance athlete and the multiple goals of those in between (e.g., toning, weight loss or improved fitness). However, the user must fully understand the scope of its application and design exercise progressions appropriately. It is important to avoid making the mistake of progressing prematurely to heavier tubes before progressing the complexity and efficiency of the movement patterns.
What we liked:
- Provides a unique exercise experience that is both fun and challenging
- Offers the versatility of performing both isolated and integrated exercises
- Excellent functional training tool for training three-dimensional movement patterns
- Extremely durable construction
- Can be used to train multiple parameters of health and fitness, including balance, core, strength, power and anaerobic endurance.
- Includes live educational training
What we didn’t like:
- Product availability is still somewhat limited given its recent introduction to the market
- Exercise menu and accompanying DVD currently not available (availability – TBD)
- Price may prove to be an obstacle for some (priced at $12–$14/pound vs. $2–3/pound for kettlebells and $3–4/pound for commercial dumbbells
Fabio Comana, M.A., M.S., is an exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, and an adjunct professor at San Diego State University (SDSU) and the University of California San Diego (UCSD), teaching courses in exercise science and nutrition. He holds two master’s degrees, one in exercise physiology and one in nutrition, as well as certifications through ACE, ACSM, NSCA and ISSN.