Anyone hear of Hydraulic Exercise for FM/CFS?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Achy-shaky, Jul 2, 2003.

  1. Achy-shaky

    Achy-shaky New Member

    In case you all don't get the Immune Support newsletter I wanted to post this very interesting article for most of us who find it hard to exercise. Has anyone used this type of equipment?

    Hydraulic Exercise Gets One Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patient Moving in the Right Direction


    By Jessica Mendes
    Jessica Mendes is a freelance journalist and FM/CFS patient based in Toronto, Canada. She is host and producer of CIUT Radio's Innovations, which promotes critical thinking and creative heresy on a wide range of subjects. She can be heard online every Saturday from 2-3 pm (eastern standard time) on

    My body has ached (on both physical and psychic levels) for good exercise for almost 15 years now – the kind that demands focus, vigor and passion. I feel it everywhere, but it’s strongest in my legs, and behind my chest wall: a definite “edge” that is always there, always yearning for life in full throttle. At times it is all consuming, like that gasp for air when you’ve been underwater for too long – gripping my every cell. Waxing and waning with the tides of the moon, this longing has never left me, and though it is terribly lonely, I am grateful for it. It is a desire for purpose, after all – that visceral sense that life matters.

    Fibromyalgia is, for me, an enigma; a form of madness, if you will, in the muscles and tendons. Like electrical circuits on overload, firing out in disarray. Or profound ambivalence, bleeding through flesh and clutching bone. Were I a physicist, I might theorize it to be dissonant vital forces, polarizing by nature, creating a carnal paralysis of will or, a physical locking disorder. In other words, Fibromyalgia. If you’ve ever spent a sleepless night strung out from sheer exhaustion, you’ve scratched the surface of what it’s like to live with it, in my experience. You get used to the pain, and its wide range of sensation. The unrelenting lack of elasticity is another matter. Muscles taut and erratically anxious, a stretch is not just a stretch. Without breath, there’s no give at all; take it too far, and you’ll snap. Its patterns are an utter anomaly, for the most part: it is no doubt a condition that asks you to pay attention to your body’s changing rhythms and needs – a task, I admit, I have often not felt up to. The dictum “get enough rest,” for example, is far too simplistic. I have to be just as careful not to get too much sleep – even an hour’s excess will send my muscles into seizure for the balance of a day. This is particularly telling since, in my case, I also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The two illnesses combined have taught me that the antidote to tiredness isn’t always more rest. This is where my lust for a good work out comes in.

    Here’s my dilemma: since I have FM and CFS, fervent exercise is fraught with hazard. Sprains, tears, spasms; tension that grips with intolerable might – I never know what to expect. It is in this sense that Fibromyalgia has been a growing disability. I was no less than shocked, then, when recently, I stumbled across an opening in my range of choices. It’s called hydraulic resistance training: physical exercise, with equipment, that is non-impacting, and focuses on rehabilitation, toning and metabolism. A system targeted to people of any age and ability, for whom traditional work outs (weight lifting, aerobics) are not an option.

    It’s called “circuit training”: set up in a circle facing in, each piece of equipment works a different muscle group. You spend 30 seconds (yes, that’s seconds) on each machine, with recovery time (cardiovascular work) between sets, until you’ve moved around the wheel. “It’s a whole new concept of working out,” says Lesley Smith, manager of Toronto’s Ladies Fit Express. “The amount of force you exert determines the level of resistance you encounter. It adjusts continuously to the ability and need of the person using it, and won’t leave you feeling sore the day after. There’s no strain on the joints, no fighting of gravity. It’s a very different way of working your muscles.”

    Indeed. Traditional weight training is prone to injury with over-exertion or improper form. Hydraulic resistance training, on the other hand, appears to help heal injury. Think Iyengar yoga with turbo-power. Iyengar is a discipline that relies on the wisdom of our body’s nature, with a focus on balance and recovery: from injury, illness and trauma. My impression of hydraulic resistance training so far is that it works much the same way, allowing the body, rather than the mind, to set the rhythm and force of a work out. You could call it physical training from the feminine. There’s no competition, no measuring weights, and no mental guesswork involved – just the feel of your own body in a highly adaptable system.

    Imagine the sensation of swimming, but on dry land. When I tried the equipment for the first time, I was deeply impressed with a sense of resilience. Like a good pair of shoes with shock absorption: you feel as if you’re barefoot on soil when you’re walking on cement. As I moved with each apparatus, there was no jerking or jolting of my limbs; no stiffening or pinching, no sensation of tearing, trauma or spiking pain. It was like swimming, but without the tightening in my neck or the hassle of chlorine. I was elated. Could this mean I now have a means to strengthen and tone?

    Lesley Smith thinks so, and she has reason to. She’s had good feedback from clients with Fibromyalgia, back problems and other challenges. Pat Matheson, a 69-year-old woman with osteoporosis and arthritis, has been working out at her gym since last October. “I have far more energy than I did then, and I don’t have near as much pain in the morning,” she tells me. “I have more bounce in my walk, more strength in my knees. I feel good all over.” Her goal is to get herself off of Hormone Replacement Therapy.

    It’s worth noting that hydraulic resistance training is not the same as working with air pressure equipment. It took me a while to figure this out initially, since a surprising number of Toronto’s gyms equate one with the other, including one that is exclusively hydraulic. Completely unaware, I conducted a poll to see how many of Toronto’s gyms had them. Some hadn’t even heard of it; one told me they “didn’t believe in it,” and another informed me that I wouldn’t find hydraulics in this city. The most common response, though, was “oh – you mean air pressure? The equipment you adjust with buttons?” A few asked me if I meant Keiser, a well-known manufacturer of air pressure machines.

    It wasn’t until I found Fit Express that I discovered they were two entirely different concepts. “Most people in the industry don’t get how hydraulics work,” says Glen Beckett, their Vice President of Sales based in Mississippi. “They are virtually the same as training in water. You don’t have the impact you encounter in weight training, because the resistance level is equal to the amount of force you are able to exert at every point in the range of motion. The weight is never greater than what you can safely lift. Contrary to pneumatics, which are designed to simulate weight training, but with air resistance.”

    Fit Express is the oldest independent manufacturer of adjustable hydraulic resistance equipment in the world, supplying to gyms in Europe, Asia, Mexico, the Middle East, U.S. and Canada. “Adjustable” is key, here, since you’ll also find non-adjustable hydraulic resistance equipment, namely at Curves. Non-adjustable poses problems, says Glen. “You need to provide periodic variance to shock the muscles and nervous system – otherwise, when you reach your maximum speed you will plateau, as your body has adjusted to a certain setting.” This was confirmed for me by another Toronto gym, Oxygen Fitness. “We get a lot of overflow from Curves,” says manager John McCrindle. “People work out there for a couple of months and then they want more, so they come to us.”

    If you’ve got arthritis, joint problems or back injuries, however, this isn’t an option. Look for adjustable hydraulics resistance equipment. I predict the industry will soon see a significant growth curve – one catered to the needs of a market untapped. And I, for one, want to be part of it.

    Author’s note: To order adjustable hydraulic resistance equipment, or to find a gym in your area that may have it, call toll free 1-800-934-0321.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/02/2003]
    [This Message was Edited on 07/02/2003]
  2. Achy-shaky

    Achy-shaky New Member

    Anyone ever hear of this?
  3. sofy

    sofy New Member

    In another post here I think I remember someone saying Curves exercise equipment is hydraulic and I know you do each one for 5 minutes, and rotate around just like described in the article. I cant help but wonder if she has a financial interest. It sounded like a comercial but many women swear by it.
    Edit: the article is about adjustable hydrolics and curves is NOT adjustable but might be a good place to start before wanting more
    [This Message was Edited on 07/15/2003]
    [This Message was Edited on 07/15/2003]
  4. teach6

    teach6 New Member

    I realize this was a long post and sometimes I find myself skimming, especially toward the end of long posts. However in this article the author clearly says that this is NOT what they have at Curves. What they have is non-adjustable and we need adjustable equipment.

  5. AnnG

    AnnG New Member

    that once you get used to going to Curves you may want to move on to more of a challenge. I just joined Curves and so far am optimistic about being able to do it. The machines themselves are not adjustable BUT you can adjust your body to how you use it (go faster or slower, allow the machine to do some of the work or push & pull it yourself, etc). Each machine is only done for 30 seconds with a 30 second break in between each machine to run in place, do slow stretches or deep breathe as the case may be.
  6. kresna60

    kresna60 New Member

    Curves is a real "queen" when it comes to getting back into the groove of things. I have suffered with FM for nearly 5 years. My rhumo suggested that I start with soft, gentle exercise. I joined Curves 6 weeks ago and not only do I see a difference in my body, but FEEL a difference in how I am sleeping and feeling. Yes, the machines are hydraulic; but that gives each one of us the ability to work out at our own pace. They also have a program (diet) that is based on your body being either calorie sensitive or carb sensitivity. I cannot tell you how much this program has helped me feel better. If you do not want to join, you can purchase the book "Curves" and purchase the resistance bands -- the book goes over the exercises.

    The South Beach Diet is also similar, but I like the idea of going to work out three times a week for 30 minutes. I feel better and I know that I am building muscle and raising my metabolism while following this program.

    I didn't think that I could do it because of all of my health problems, but I have not had any problems with using the machines -- I worked out really s l o w at first, but it's not a race. It's all about getting ourselves moving and feeling better.

    Good Health to All.

  7. zggygirl

    zggygirl New Member

    I've never seen these machines. Does it require you to stand? Or if sitting etc., do you use your feet for resistance or put pressure on your feet?
    I ask because I can't do that right now.
    Just curious at this point.
  8. AnnG

    AnnG New Member

    many different kinds of machines. Lots of the ladies skip certain machines for different reasons (shoulder problems, etc.). There is no pressure for you to do them all. I am skipping the machine that has you pulling your arms over your head because of a neck problem.
  9. dsames

    dsames New Member

    I was just talking to a dau in law of a good friend of mine yesterday, who strongly recommends Curves. She was dx with fibro about 5 years ago, and has just recently started curves upon the recommendation of her rheumy.

    She was very excited about it and believes it has helped here.

    I noticed in our weekly shopping guide that I just received this morning, that Curves is offering a special. I may check it out.

    Have a good day.