People who know me well have perhaps noticed that I'm a bit sensitive. I don't like loud noise, prefer to avoid crowds, injure easily. Sometimes, even a strong hug will leave me sore. I dread the hair wash bowls in beauty salons. I've yet to find one that doesn't leave a bruise on the back of my neck. And if you've been reading this blog, you already know that most shoes find a way to irritate my feet.
I've been compared by my loving family to the princess in the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, "The Princess and the Pea." In that story, the princess' sensitivity to a single pea placed under twenty mattresses and twenty featherbeds is taken as proof of her royal birth. In my case, my sensitivity is regarded not so much as a sign of regal delicacy, but rather as an annoying personality quirk. That sensitivity was put to the test yesterday afternoon, when I visited Koko FitClub to try out their machine-based workout system.
I was greeted at the Needham club by owner Paul Romeo, who took me through a demonstration of the workout. The club is one of a number of franchises located across the country. It has a fresh, modern look and convenient parking. A row of Smartrainers, the machines used for strength training, line the wall on one side, while treadmills and elliptical trainers take up the other side.
I found Paul to be pleasant, low-key, and knowledgeable about his product. The Smartrainer looked imposing, to say the least, but Paul introduced me to its intricacies, which involve a personalized computer program, and I quickly got the hang of it. The Nautilus equipment I used at the Y had some of the same features, but the Smartrainer is more advanced, incorporating different exercises every session to adequately exercise all the muscle groups and provide variety in a thirty-minute workout. To learn the machine's capabilities and use it successfully, I would clearly need some guidance. Paul made it clear that he would be available for as much time as it took, at no extra charge.
I would have liked everything about the Koko FitClub concept if it weren't for my "Princess and the Pea" syndrome. For some exercises, the lowest weight on the Smartrainer, 15 pounds, was too much for my currently-weak upper body. And the machine, while surprisingly versatile, does have limitations. With free weights, I've learned how to do biceps curls that spare my easily-injured elbows. Although there were several options for biceps curls using the Smartrainer, all would have put my elbows at risk.
So, regretfully, I have to conclude that the Smartrainer is not for me, though I like the idea of it. If you're a more normal person of whatever age, this could be a good option for you. As for me, I intend to go at my own slow pace, using free weights and therabands, and always checking under my mattress for stray peas.