Super Slow Strength Training in SF

My brother and I once discovered that we were both separately reading the same book at the same time. The book was about endurance marathons – the races where people run literally hundreds of miles at a stretch, pushing themselves to the very limit of human capability. Although we had both thought to read the book at the same time, my brother and I had completely opposite reactions to it. My brother, a natural athlete, was immediately inspired to go out and run until he could run no more, challenged by the inspiration that someone else could do such a thing and live to tell about it and also motivated by his love of the runner’s high. Me? Well, I’m not a natural athlete. The idea of pushing myself until I fall over or projectile vomit or lose toenails in my shoes as described by the marathon runner holds absolutely zero appeal for me. And besides, I hate to run.

In fact, I actually hate most forms of exercise, which goes against an intellectual belief that exercise is an important part of life. I usually do it begrudgingly. Until now. I am living proof that even the most non-athletic, anti-exertion, would-much-rather-be-reading kind of person can eventually find a type of exercise that works for her. I had tried gyms, running routes, hiking (which I liked for awhile but found inconvenient when I moved here), yoga, dance, videos … and pretty much everyone, especially me, thought that I was just doomed to loathe exercise. Then, through a series of fortuitious meetings, I found super slow strength training. (Wow, does this read like a testimonial or what?! And I’m so happy with myself about this one that I am okay with that!!)

Super Slow (also known as No Momentum) Strength Training is a short muscle-building, metabolism-increasing workout program. I think it works for me for a couple of reasons. It has quick results, which suits me “want it done now” attitude about everything. It is also designed to intensively work out all muscle groups, which is what I was seeking, but to do so in short (twenty minute!) workouts only twice each week, which means that I can simultaneously push my body to its limits while still knowing that the workout is practically almost over.

This type of workout is unique. It doesn’t rely on prolonged repetition. It involves focused attention from a personal trainer. It is based on provoking muscle failure in a safe manner in order to build strength. To my knowledge, there is only one place in the city where this type of training is offered (Desisto Strength Training).

What’s worked for me is combining the workout with cardio – walking to and from my trainer over one of San Francisco’s biggest hills. Coming back home after the workout, I consistently feel like I am going to fall over. There was one day when I thought that awful projectile vomiting rumor might come true for me. And yet, the hill was short enough – and the rewards are great enough – that I absolutely didn’t care. When I caught my breath, I called my brother to brag!

5 Comments so far

  1. Courtney P (unregistered) on October 24th, 2006 @ 10:27 am

    huh, interesting. I’d love to hear your progress as time goes on with this.


  2. cd (unregistered) on October 24th, 2006 @ 10:46 am

    Can you describe the motion a bit more? Are these long-held positions – like weight-bearing yoga? Slow-controlled movement (arm upppp, arm dowwnnnn, kinda thing).

    Inquiring minds want to know.


  3. Matt R. (unregistered) on October 25th, 2006 @ 9:22 am

    You can be hiking 10 minutes after crossing the GG Bridge (e.g., Tennessee Valley)–plenty of wonderful trails in the Marin hills and coastline, ranging from easy/moderate to difficult. Or, drive 45-60 minutes south into the Santa Cruz Mountains. Or the East Bay hills. Perhaps, only convenient with a car to get you there.


  4. Kathryn Vercillo (unregistered) on October 25th, 2006 @ 9:36 am

    Re: hiking – it’s true, there is a lot of amazing hiking around this area (although I have to confess that I don’t feel like it compares to the mountains back home), but I don’t have a car here (which is fabulous!) so none of it is really easy to get to as far as I can tell.

    Re: the details of strength training – it IS a super slow motion, ten seconds in and then ten seconds out which means that you’re entirely focused on straining your muscles but only for a relatively short period of time.


  5. anna (unregistered) on October 25th, 2006 @ 11:57 am

    When I finally got a car, I did a bunch of peninsula and north bay hikes. It sucks being a hiker and not having a car- I can sympathize!



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