Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Year as a Business Owner: Equipment Hits and Misses Part 2

Here is Part 2 of my post. As I stated in Part 1, it is the one year anniversary of starting my own business. I am looking back at the recent equipment purchases I have made over the year and giving my recommendations and my review on each piece. If you haven't read Part 1, check it out HERE.

PIECE #5: AQUA BAG (Cost $100)
This is probably a relatively unknown training tool--as it usually takes a backseat to the more popular sand bag--however, it has proven to be a good investment. I researched online for some reviews and training videos using the Aqua Bag and was intrigued by its versatility. Filled with water, this bag can weight upwards to 44 pounds. What I like best about it during training, is when pressed overhead or held, it is totally unforgiving on the core. The water splashes around inside and creates a reactive effect that calls upon the body to stabilize the object. Paired with exercises such as lunges, squats, and twists--the Aqua bag is definitely a mainstay during group circuit classes. Verdict: HIT! (Thumbs Up)

I am a big believer in woodchops and chop lifts. For years I used a triceps rope to execute woodchops in my programs. Until, one day I saw a Cook Stick (named primarily after physical therapist, Gray Cook) in some catalogs priced between $35-$85. I didn't want to spend that much on a piece that really can only provide me with two important exercises, so I decided to make one. I found a 3 foot dowel somewhere in my garage and tested it for strength. Then I went down to the local hardware store and purchased a heavy duty eye loop hook. The careful part was drilling the hook directly into the center of the dowel [at the end]. If I was off in my drilling, it can make the dowel prone to breaking during cable loaded exercises. After screwing in the hook, I tested it out with some tubing. Once I assembled my BodySolid cable tower, I tried it with that. I haven't used more than 50 pounds with it, but the stick has held up well. No cracks, no splinters. It has definitely paid me back two-fold. However, like I stated--it's not versatile. I only use it for chop and lift exercises and woodchop movements. So even though it was cheap, it only comes out to play once in a while. Verdict: MISS! (Thumbs Down)

PIECE # 7: GYM MIRRORS (Cost $50-100)
Brand new wall mirrors are expensive. A typical wall mounted mirror found in a gym that measures 8 feet by 5 feet, can run between $400-$900. I wasn't about to spend that much on mirrors. So I put an ad on Craigslist stating that I was looking for large mirrors. A woman contacted me over a weekend and said she had 4 large mirrors she wanted to get rid of. I drove a ways and picked them up and purchased a few other used ones over course of the year. Now, most strength coaches that like to "talk tough" will tell you that mirrors in a training studio do not belong. Most tattooed strength coaches are too busy folding their arms together and flexing their biceps to have mirrors in their facilities. But I am different. I mounted mirrors up for a specific reason. Mirrors enable me to observe my clients in action in a "third person" position. I like to observe my clients as they are in front of me--but also at different angles. I am notorious for keeping an Eagle Eye on my clients as they are training. I don't like exercise form when it deteriorates and if being able to watch from different angles helps me help my clients--than I am all for it. Another reason I like mirrors....I truly believe that when people exercise HARD in front of  a mirror and make every grunt and strain count,  they build a sense of confidence. There has been many times, I see the facial expressions made by clients and you can see the level of confidence and body awareness increase. That is what I like and believe that it is a valuable teaching aid. Verdict: HIT! (Thumbs Up)

PIECE #8: AIREX PAD (Cost $59)
The Airex pad is by far the most used piece during most training sessions. Clients kneel, lunge into, or squat on top of the Airex pad. We perform pistol exercises and use it as extra matting for certain floor exercises--making it a staple in everyday sessions. The pad is known for "balance" exercises, but aside from the pistols--I don't think I use it for that. I use it more for comfort and as a vantage point during lunges and squats. Verdict: HIT! (Thumbs up)

I do have more equipment. If you liked this post and reading my reviews of each piece, drop me some comments below or through Facebook. I can always post more on the other types of equipment I have. if it helps you, I am all for it!


  1. Thanks for the great reviews. I am always interested in the tools that others find useful. With so much junk out there, it's nice to get some honest reviews.

  2. Great post John - I like the honest reviews of the equipment. I'm interested in the Aqua bag - do you know of anyone that sells it in the states?

  3. Thanks Nanci! I purchased mine through Perform Better. I believe it is manufactured in Austraila. Shipping took about 2 weeks for it.

  4. John

    Great blog posts, I have about 1/2 the equipment you recommend, there is a few pieces I need to add for sure.

    Really appreciate the insight and thanks again.


  5. Thanks John
    Good article. Funny we just got a advertisement from Perform Better this morning for the Aqua bag .Looks like a cool tool.
    Jeff Harris

  6. Hi John, thanks for the helpful posts. I'd definitely get the aqua bag and sled.

    I get a lot of use out of my kettlebells, dumb bells, and ropes. I'm thinking of adding a couple of pull up bars for pull ups of course and to use my freestyle trainer with (sort of like a TRX). Do you have those? If so, how often do you use them?

    Anna D.

  7. @Rob: Thank you brotha!

    @ Anna: I do have the TRX, ropes, DBs. The only pullup bars I have are attached to my cable tower and power rack. I don't have any KB...I have one 15lb. that I flirt with once in a while!

  8. John

    When you were considering a cable tower unit, did you think about the 'traditional' style that has the towers far apart and facing each other with a long beam and chinup bar between them? Space is not a problem for me, but I would like maximun versatility. I would appreciate your thoughts.


  9. @ colin: It was strictly a spacing issue for me. If I had a bigger space, I would have gone with a slightly wider based cable tower. I don't prefer the really long ones you see in gyms. I have 2 spots for chins, so that wasn't a concern for me. Thanks


Thanks for checking out the blog and commenting!