SCHERERVILLE | I'm sore today. From a 3-minute workout.
And, according to the experts at Northwest Indiana Chiropractic, it's all the strength training I'll need for the next week. Good thing, because I'm not sure my body could handle any more.
On Wednesday, I tried out the "adaptive resistance exercise" equipment, or ARX, at the new chiropractic office in Schererville. The machine is the only one of its kind in the state. What makes the ARX unique is it both adapts to your strength and resists as you're contracting each exercise.
When I talked to chiropractor Bob Newhalfen on the phone earlier in the week, he told me I could show up in my work clothes since I probably wouldn't even sweat. He didn't account for the fact that his trainer, John Vode, was going to give me the full treatment.
I sat down on the machine, which looks like a flying car with no shell (for some reason, it has exhaust pipes on the bottom), and Vode strapped me in. I started with the leg press. He told me to do the first rep at about 50 percent. After that ...
"Give it everything you got!" he yelled (at that point, I realized he and the doctor hadn't communicated beforehand about taking it easy on me.) "Speed it, speed it up. Stop the machine. OK, ready, set, drive! Speed it up. How fast can you get this thing going? It's going to squash you. Drive, drive, drive, drive, drive. Now, resist."
Even more fun was the row exercise, which Vode managed to equate with a makeout session with a beautiful actress.
"Jessica Alba's in your arms right now, bring her closer and don't let her get away," he said, as I pulled the bars and they pulled back. "Don't let her go. 'Come here, Jessica. You belong to me.' Bring her back, bring her close. Very good, very good. Oh, yeah, hold her close. She's powerful. She's skinny, but she's sleek. You're coming off the seat. She's good! Pull her back. Ten seconds left. Don't let her go. Hold on to her. 'Come back here, woman, you're mine!'"
While most people can resist more weight (that's called eccentric strength) than they can lift (concentric strength), Vode said, they don't use that ability because traditional training doesn't typically allow for it. I discovered I'm three times stronger eccentrically than I am concentrically.
Newhalfen explained why this is important for athletes. Most sports injuries happen either on the way down or during a plant or cut motion — think about how Bulls star Derrick Rose hurt his knee — so increasing that eccentric strength will hopefully prevent them. In the same way, it can help elderly people either avoid or decrease the physical damage from falls.
He also said the ARX limits workout injuries because it adapts to each user's strength.
"It's a self-limiting machine," he said. "So whether it's the 18-year-old football player or 77-year-old Aunt Betty, she's only going to push as hard as her body allows, so safety is inherent and built in."
I did the leg press, bench press and row for a minute each. Vode said it would take my body seven to nine days to recover. (Great.) He noted that the machine, like strength training in general, isn't just for athletes. It improves quality of life, reducing the chances you'll need a joint replacement later on or won't be able to run around with your grandkids the way you do with your kids now. "Stronger is always better," he said.
Vode wasn't done with me after I got off the ARX machine. He gave me the "functional movement screen" he and the chiropractor do for clients, testing things like my shoulder mobility and stability while rotating. I learned I can't do a proper pushup and I may have a previously undetected wrist injury. I scored an 8 — only five points from LeBron James! — with the goal being 14. I have some work to do.