Each week, the Huffington Post Canada's Living team will try out something that has sparked our curiosity, and as long as we live to tell the tale, we'll let you know all about it.
Test Drive Subject: Ageless Body Bootcamp
Price: Approximately $140 for eight classes (though prices go down when you buy a package)
What It Is: Classes that use suspension training as a way to gain muscle and strength, as well as promote weight loss. And what's suspension training, you're wondering? It's a type of workout that uses your own body weight, along with a suspension tool (Ageless Body's "Fit Kit," mountain climbing-grade cords and handles is theirs) to do exercises you already know and love -- just now with a bit more of a challenge.
Trying It Out: The Ageless Body Bootcamp, which is currently running in one west-end Toronto neighbourhood, consists of a one-hour class, complete with five-minute warm-up, 12 exercises repeated twice, a few cardio stints tossed in, and core work toward the end. It sounds so simple laid out that way, but trust me, it wasn't.
The Fit Kit is tied around a giant concrete pillar in a gazebo (though it can also easily be looped over a door for home workouts). Owner Ivan Dragos reassures me this seemingly innocuous gear can hold up to 1500 pounds -- but even so, I give it some tugs before I put my full weight into it. Even if you're used to heavier weight training, suspension fitness will be a challenge, particularly because it forces you to use your own body as the weight -- and if you're not in the exact right body position, look forward to some serious twinges the next day.
SEE: Exercises from Ageless Body Bootcamp. Story continues below:
Suspended Push Up
When performing the 'Fit-Kit' push-up, the exercise becomes much more functional, as it not only targets the chest and upper body, but also demands full core stability for the movement to be properly executed.
Suspended Push Up
The movement is quite similar to a push-up performed on the ground, with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and elbows tucked in.
Skater Lunge or Leg Crossover
This is arguably the most effective leg exercise. This exercise movement works all major leg muscle groups and at the same time works your glutes, hips and core. This exercise is great for balancing and strengthening the lower back and improving hip and knee stability.
Skater Lunge or Leg Crossover
Instead of doing a simple squat, the skater lunge offers a more challenging move. To do it, put your back leg behind you at an angle and leap to the side with the forward foot. Then do so in the opposite direction. It'll feel a little awkward at first, but you'll feel like an Olympic speed skater after three or four tries. Keep your knees bent and your body as low as possible.
The plank is a very simple but effective core exercise and can be executed in two ways: elbow plank or push-up plank position. The elbow plank position is shown here.
The effectiveness of a suspended plank is greater and more functional compared to a non-suspended plank as all core and stabilizer muscles have to work together keep the body in a steady, straight line.
Reverse or Back Plank
An easy and less challenging plank which goes a long way in improving low back strength.
Reverse or Back Plank
When done in combination with hamstring curls (as shown here), it will strengthen the hamstrings, which almost always tend to be weaker than the quadriceps.
Our Thoughts: With so many workout classes opting for "new" and "improved" techniques these days, it was nice to go to a class that was purely about strength conditioning -- albeit with the suspension gimmick for a bit of interest. As someone who does strength training occasionally -- say, once a week -- the exercises were a challenge throughout. And better yet, there were plenty of options to make it more difficult once you'd mastered the original pose, merely by moving your feet around a bit.
Rather than a one-off kind of class that you can go to and say, "yeah, I tried that," the bootcamp is definitely geared toward those who intend to stick it with it for the long term. Dragos also notes it can get results quicker than other exercises, thanks to its focus on both the muscles and the core strength required to utilize the suspension kit -- attending two classes per week for a month, longtime participants I spoke of five to ten-pound weight loss.
Our Tips: To conquer suspension training, you must be prepared to feel a bit awkward, especially during the core workout. Lying down with your feet in the handles automatically feels silly, reminiscent of getting your foot stuck in something you can't quite work your way out of. But you know what? Silly kind of makes the exercises more fun, so giggle away.
And most of all, don't fear the term "suspended." This isn't about flying through the air, twisting and turning in the wind. Your feet are firmly planted on the ground throughout (except for those hilarious plank positions), and the only way you'll have lift off is if you decide to get extra ambitious and go for a pike.
Have a suggestion for a Test Drive? Tried something you loved or hated? Let us know on Twitter at @HuffPostCaLiv, or in the comments below.
Check out these other products we've put to the test:
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Kobo Aura HD
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Microsoft's Surface Windows 8
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Divine Heritage Artistry's Bollywood & Bhangra class
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Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo Review
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Extension Room Ballet Class
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Lumosity.com's Brain Games
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Imagine Organic Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
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Kinect's Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012
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Snacks Of The Week
PRICE: $3<br>AVAILABLE AT: Most grocery stores across Canada. What's In It: 25 per cent of your daily iron. <br>Putting It To Use: Cooked along green vegetables and mushrooms, this tofu makes the perfect protein option for vegetarians. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/23/food-products-test-drive-_n_1294300.html?ref=test-drive#s715178&title=Presidents_Choice_Berry" target="_hplink">Read more here. </a>
Be Kool Kids Fever Patches
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Starbucks Cake Pop Kit
Our Thoughts: In the end, I had some pretty good-looking cake pops to give my family, though we could each only eat one because of the sweetness. Were they the same as the ones you buy at Starbucks? Not exactly -- baristas apparently have a better handle on covering the ball in icing, and seem to tone down the sugar so as to keep customers from going into a diabetic shock. On the plus side, the homemade pops were much more moist than the ones in store. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/11/24/starbucks-cake-pop-kit_n_1110167.html" target="_hplink">Read more here. </a>
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