The machines you’re not using (but should be!) at the gym

With all the New Year’s resolutions to get fit and nix holiday flab, January is always one of the busiest times at the gym. That can mean a lot of waiting around to get on the next open treadmill or bike and, instead of working out, you get worked up and frustrated.

Michael Poirier, regional fitness director of Boston Sports Clubs, advises exercisers to seek out the gym’s “quiet corners” where equipment sits unused. Taking the road less traveled not only cuts your wait time, but as Poirier tells us, it can improve your workout.

rowing machine

Get off the treadmill and onto the rowing machine

The erg “works multiple muscle groups and it’s high-cardio to benefit the heart,” Poirier says. “You’re really working your posterior chain — the backside of your body — whereas the treadmill is working all front muscles. The posterior chain doesn’t get much use because of all the sitting at computers or in front of the TV that we do. The stronger your posterior chain, the better your body functions overall.”


Assisted pull-up machine (2)

Take the weight off and use the assisted pull-up machine

“It looks intimidating because you are lifting your body up like a pull-up, so people avoid it. What most people don’t realize is that you take a lot of your weight off your arms by using the machine. Also, the more weight you put on the machine, the easier it is, which is counter-intuitive, but ask a trainer to show you how to do it.”


Get off the bike and onto the StepMill 5

Poirier is a big fan of this machine. “It’s more like interval training and has more of an impact than a stationary bike. You can alter it to lengthen your stride and really work your glutes and hamstrings. In comparison to a treadmill, you can burn up to 50 percent more calories using a StepMill for the same amount of time. So, you’re burning more fat.”


Bosu Ball

Get off the floor and on the ball (the Bosu Ball, that is)

“Anything that challenges the core will give a better workout,” he says. “The Bosu Ball or any unstable surface challenges stability and so you’re using core muscles, and other muscles, to maintain balance. Do planks or squats or use a cable press on the ball. By destabilizing your base, you’re working out much harder.”


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