Caitlin Reid is an exercise physiologist who enjoys incorporating creative exercise into every day.
With so much new exercise equipment on the market, is any of it worth the money? Exercise physiologist Caitlin Reid and our keen tester find out.
What are they? Compression tights are leg and buttock-moulded clothing manufactured from different grades of Lycra and microfibres, which ‘provide support and muscle alignment’. They are often worn after exercise, allegedly to speed recovery, improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
Cost 2XU range between $120–185; Skins range between $115–300; Body Science $140.
Fitness/health benefits Research has shown that compression tights can reduce perceived muscle soreness in the 24 hours after exercise. They have also been found to improve oxygen supply to muscles, which facilitates greater muscle efficiency. However, research is yet to support any improvement in recovery and performance.
Tester's comments “I love these tights! I put them on after cycling and wore them to bed that night (surprisingly, they were cool and comfy). The next day I had a whole lot less muscle soreness than normal. I’d use these again.”
Verdict While there’s currently no significant evidence that compression tights improve performance or recovery, they may help reduce perceived muscle soreness the day after exercise.
What are they? Kettlebells are cast iron weights that look like a cannonball with a handle. Originally used in Russia as a counter balance when measuring grains, they eventually became a very popular training tool. Kettlebells are now used in swinging movements or in ‘press and pull’ exercises, similar to those exercises that use a dumbbell.
Cost $30–$120 depending on weight; classes $99–$199.
Fitness/health benefits While little research exists on the benefits of Kettlebells, the handle is designed to offset the centre of mass, allowing for more dynamic workouts that are suitable for people of all fitness levels. Andrew Boyle, exercise physiologist and Kettlebell expert from Australian Kettlebell League, says, “when using Kettlebells, we never isolate muscles. Instead, each individual exercise links all the muscle groups, connecting the lower body to the upper body through the core. By doing this, the core is constantly activated.” Using multiple muscle groups simultaneously, also elevates your heart rate, increasing your cardiovascular fitness.
Tester's comments “Because they have a handle these were really easy to hold on to, so I wasn’t afraid of dropping them. It also seemed like there were so many more exercises I could do [with Kettlebells] than with regular dumbbells.”
Verdict If you’re looking to combine cardio and strength workouts, Kettlebells are the perfect tool. However, learning the correct technique is a must, otherwise you could injure yourself.
MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) shoes
What are they? Swiss engineer Karl Muller developed these unique shoes in the early 1990s. With a multi-layered curved sole and no heel, it’s designed to mimic the rocking motion of walking on soft sand. This is thought to encourage the body to use all the major muscle groups, training the whole body to move correctly, which is thought may help with everything from back problems to posture.
Cost About $370.00 a pair.
Fitness/health benefits According to Trent Salkavich, sport podiatrist from Sydney Sports Medicine Centre, MBTs can be used for rehabilitation in a number of lower limb conditions. “An advantage of the MBT shoe over a regular shoe is that it allows the foot to function without overloading specific muscle groups,” says Trent. Research shows that wearing MBTs can reduce pressure under the mid-foot and heel, shifting the pressure towards the toes. Further research is needed to identify to what extent MBTs may reduce pain in certain conditions, such as osteoarthritis.
Tester's comments “These felt so strange when I first put them on! But they were clearly doing something – I had sore muscles within half an hour of wearing them. After two weeks I did get used to them, and I’m definitely standing up straighter.”
Verdict While marketed as an everyday shoe, MBTs offer the most benefit when used in conjunction with other therapies for treatment of overuse muscular injuries. Use your MBT shoes with the guidance of a podiatrist or health care professional.