Friday, December 16, 2011

My Best & Worst Training Purchases of 2011

I am approaching my first full year as a small business owner and I have learned quite alot. Frankly, I am still learning. For instance, I am still trying to figure out an easier way to accept payments for services. I have considered many programs, systems, and what not, but don't feel comfortable with them. I am still figuring out a way to insulate the warehouse (where my facility is located) to keep most of the heat in. The seal around the garage door is not as efficient as you may think and I am researching ways to save on heating costs. However, I have learned that I can call the heating company to have the heat (natural gas) shut off during the hot summer months so I don't have to pay a "delivery charge". Thats a stupid charge that they suck out of you even when you are not using heat. I consider myself sucked:

One of the biggest things to consider in a first year business is investing. Some guys like to take out a big loan from a bank and go all out and purchase everything they need prior to opening. That's well and good if the business-owner(s) are comfortable with the initial investment. Some business-owners will have partners or silent partners. That is cool too. But when you are a small business owner like me, I count every penny I put into the business--as well as every penny that comes out of it.

2011 saw many purchases from me that I thought would be beneficial to my clients. Typically, I inundate myself with research when contemplating a purchase for the facility. Once I find a product I want to purchase, I will Google the reviews for it from past customers; watch YouTube video reviews, make comparisons, and ask colleagues for their opinions. Albeit, some products you simply have to try out to really understand how their use can be implemented in your style of training.

I wrote a bunch of blogs over the course of the year regarding some "hit" and "miss" purchases for my training facility. You can check them out here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. With today's post, I wanted to give you a summary of my best purchase of 2011 and my worst purchase of 2011.

Best Purchase of 2011 

Without a doubt, my sled has been the best purchase. Although purchased in late 2010, it is the most widely used piece of equipment I have. Unlike the popular Prowler Sled, my sled is unique. Made by a bunch of motorcycle guys out in Arizona (think American Choppers), my sled is smaller and not as expensive. I paid roughly $150 (including shipping) and it has gotten the most exposure in my group training class and one-on-one sessions. Nothing against the Prowler, my sled is less-intimidating but looks are a bit deceiving. It delivers a punch to any training session, considering my clients are mostly categorized as the "general population"; they are not accustomed to pushing a 70-200 pound sled roughly 35 feet. 

The majority of my clients sit all day in this position:

After a period of time and meeting some of my training benchmarks, I implement the sled into their workout.

And I get them into this position:

Nice? Total opposite of what their body is accustomed to. Not only does sled training position their bodies in full extension and get the entire hip complex involved (as opposed to being stationary for 8 hours), the client also gets to increase blood flow, oxygen consumption, and yes...a little lactic acid build up.

Worst Purchase of 2011

In a quest to find something to help my ladies learn how to pull their bodyweight, I looked for an apparatus that was versatile and portable. I didn't want a chin-up apparatus (because I have 2 already) and I didn't want to be restricted to only using the barbell fixed on the power-rack hooks for recline pulls (or inverted rows...whatever you want to call them). I liked the TRX for bodyweight rowing, but I wanted something with a more vertical challenge. The TRX was great for positioning the body at different angles to off-set the load (bodyweight), but it still challenging for clients that were not accustomed to the instability of the suspension trainer. I wanted something more stable, portable, and cost-effective. Enter the Lebert Equalizers.

Purchased for about $100 off of, I was excited at first to receive my Leberts and get them implemented into training. I soon discovered that there is probably only 2-3 good exercises that can be used with these portable "dip bars". I liked the Lebert Equalizers because, while on the floor, my clients can pull their bodies upwards with a neutral grip. I like the parallel position in this aspect, to save my clients' shoulders. Inverted rows on the barbell offer me only a palms up or down grip...nothing neutral--so that was a plus for the Leberts. But, after weeks of using them I began to realize that they move if tilted off-balance during use. 

They are pretty steady, but positioning them correctly for each unique body type is key. Using them for dips is ...okay...I particularly don't like dips in my training programs, but now and then I add them into a group training class. And although, they are proclaimed to be a great "hurdle" and "ladder trainer" by the creator, I despise them for such. I prefer a speed/agility ladder for "ladder training" and banana steps for hurdles. I do like them for neutral grip push-ups. Instead of spending $10 on push-up bars, I use the Leberts for neutral grip push-ups.

Percentage-wise, the Lebert Rows are probably used 15-20% of the time; as opposed to the sled, which gets about 70-80% of use time. The beauty of the Internet, now things can be sold on eBay, Amazon, craigslist and so many other outlets. I don't look at it as a bad investment, but usage numbers have to be pretty high for the next tool purchased.


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