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FitnessSkillmill to Peloton: The treadmill is trendy again

The fitness world is getting back to basics.
Ann Marie McQueenJune 3, 201859 min
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treadmillDubai personal trainer Kayleigh Dawson on a Technogym Skillmill treadmill. Photo courtesy Kayleigh Dawson.

It’s that one piece of gym equipment that has always whispered “duty.” It’s there in your apartment, villa complex or hotel gym, silent, but never quite inviting. You know what it can do for you. You know how many calories you can burn. You know you can run on it 365 days a year, no matter if it’s a blistering 50 degrees centigrade outside or just a balmy 25Well, it’s time to get excited again about that faithful old piece of equipment, the treadmill, because just about everyone else in the fitness world is these days.

Where to find them

Treadmills feature prominently at Orangetheory Fitness Dubai, which just opened at the Times Square Centre. There, hour-long, high-intensity interval training sessions include tough stints on treadmills and rowing machines.

Technogym has just launched the first treadmill featuring Skillrun, which combines cardio and power training, while the luxury fitness company Peloton has launched a US$4,000 (Dh14,690) treadmill with live-streaming “treadmill classes”. Tracy Anderson – trainer to stars including Gwyneth Paltrow and Lena Dunham – announced earlier this year that she would add a treadmill workout to her live streaming fitness schedule.

And actress Mindy Kaling, who was working off her baby weight while doing press for her new film, A Wrinkle in Time, recently posted a video of herself sprinting, jumping and lifting weights, all on a treadmill.

The trainers

Treadmills are a massive thing,” says Kayleigh Dawson, aka @FitnessBarbie DXB and a Dubai-based personal trainer from the UK. “Especially the Skillmill. I call it the Death Mill.”

This kind of treadmill is based on resistance and powered by human motion. The lowest level is a jog, and goes up to level 10 where the user needs to grab the handlebars, bend over and trudge, a movement akin to pushing a heavily loaded cart.

Dawson recently posted a picture of herself on Instagram running on a Technogym Skillmill treadmill at The Warehouse Gym in Umm Suqeim (Let’s Go Gym in Abu Dhabi is among the facilities that also has them) with the caption: “I seem to have a love/hate relationship with this piece of equipment. Anyone else have this issue?”

The Skillmill is great for short bursts of activity – not for long runs – and are extremely versatile, says Dawson. Some people go middle resistance and do sidesteps, while others plant one foot on the side and power through with one foot.

The love/hate? It’s certainly not easy, says Dawson.

Old faithful

“When I’m on it it takes my breath away and I’m super tired, but once I’m finished, I’m so glad I did it,” she says. “It’s the best way to get your heart rate really high in a short amount of time.”

“For me, the treadmill is something that will never go out of style,” says Nelita Villezon, a trainer at Orangetheory Fitness Dubai. “I know that it is a piece of cardio equipment that is not favored by everyone, but there is no denying the workout it gives you.”

At Orangetheory, the treadmills come with something called Flex Deck, which allows for a softer, more absorbent impact that is easier on the knees and for anyone with orthopedic issues. They are used for interval workouts focused on endurance, strength, power or a mixture of all three. 

If you can’t access a Skillmill or an Orangetheory-level piece of equipment, and all you’ve got is that old standard at the gym, a very good workout can still be had all summer long. No excuses then: hop on and power through the workouts below. 

Try this workout at home:

Kayleigh Dawson suggests three ways to work out on a regular treadmill:

  1. Run for 2 minutes at a steady rate, jump off and do 10 burpees. Repeat 4 times.
  2. Run for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  3. Start at a jog, on incline 1, for one minute. For the second minute, increase to incline 2. Depending on your fitness level, you can go all the way up to 8 and back down.

Nelita Villezon, Orangetheory Fitness Dubai trainer, suggests this regular treadmill workout:

  1. Warm up with a five-minute fast walk.
  2. One-minute jog.
  3. Thirty-second sprint.
  4. One-minute walk.
  5. One-minute jog.
  6. Thirty-second sprint.
  7. One-minute walk.
  8. Repeat twice for a total of three cycles of the routine.
  9. Then, follow up with a one-minute jog at a two percent incline.
  10. Two-minute sprint at three percent incline.
  11. Finish off with a two-minute cool-down walk, no incline.

Ann Marie McQueen

Ann Marie McQueen is the founding editor-in-chief of Livehealthy and host of The Livehealthy Podcast. She is a veteran Canadian digital journalist who has worked in North America and the Middle East. Her past roles include features editor for The National, trends writer and columnist for the Canadian newspaper chain Sun Media, and correspondent for CBC Radio.

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