A truly unique opportunity came up for the crew of Gadget King. A great friend of ours, Phil Yeh (Marketing Executive) got us a meeting with the wizards at Alter-G, the cutting edge company making the gravity defying treadmill called the G-Trainer. So we packed our camera and took a trip to bring you the scoop on this amazing device. Alter-G, Inc is located in Menlo Park, California with manufacturing plant in Wisconsin (yep, it’s made in the USA). Upon our arrival, we met up with our friend Phil Yeh and Ed Liou (Engineering Project Manager) as well as Tom Allen (Business Development). Ed Liou and Tom Allen, were kind enough to give us the tour of the place, answer a ton of questions, and even got Phil and our own Gadget King, Russ, on the G-Trainer.
The Alter-G treadmill is a unique state of the art super-gadget, which recently got FDA approval to be called a medical device. The G-Trainer enables individuals to reduce their body weight easily by as much as 80 percent, while offering the benefit of unrestricted mobility. The G-Trainer has a funky space-age look of a treadmill enclosed in the pressure-bag and height harness, with a multifunction touch sensitive LCD control panel. Nearly everything about the G-Trainer is proprietary. The bag is custom hand made with proprietary materials to Alter-G’s specifications. The blower enclosure is specially designed to operate at a high efficiency and low volume with no chance of blowing up or putting undue pressure on the body. The entire apparatus is surprisingly quiet. The base treadmill has the standard speed and incline variables. It is custom made to Alter-G’s specifications by Woodway USA. Alter-G has filed and been granted a number of patents that make the whole system pretty much exclusive to them.
To get on this ride, you have to be “this” tall. The G-Trainer comes in three sizes – short, medium and tall. Alter-G’s customers like Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming, and many others range from basketball superstars to rehabilitation patients to professional runners to “various government agencies”… Everyone can benefit from the G-Trainer as the ultimate workout device or a rehabilitation-recovery device. The price tag for a base unit is $75000 (worthy of listing in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog), with lease options available.
Before Phil and Russ got to run on the G-Trainer they had to put on a special pair of shorts referred to as “the seal”. It’s a custom neoprene compression short mated to a proprietary stretch fabric as well as the sealing flap. It creates a nearly airtight seal while keeping the user as comfortable as possible, eliminating pressure points that can form with harness systems. It is available in 3 lengths and is sized from XS to XXXL. It looks more than a little weird, but in a good humorous conversation-piece sort of way.
Once our “athletes” donned the funky shorts they climbed into the G-Trainer, pulled up the bag around themselves like an oversized pair of pants, and zippered their shorts to the pressure bag. Once properly connected, they proceeded to “log-in” and “weigh in” for calibration. G-Trainer has a sophisticated built in computer, which among all other things tracks personal data and settings for each user. During the calibration stage, the machine is doing a few things. It is taking weight and pressure measurements to determine the user’s specific body type. This is a mix of body density, cross sectional area (at the waist), as well as the height of the seal on the user. This allows the pressure control system to be very precise about the body weight and user defined settings. The pressure system measures and adjusts many hundreds of times per second to keep you within 1% of the desired body weight percentage. Whoa mamah!
To make a short story long, Phil and Russ finally got around to running. Both had a blast, Phil preferred the 80% weight loss and Russ the 50% weight loss. According to Russ, he felt like he was 10 years younger, the G-Trainer removed all feelings of impact on joints, and he was able to run to his fullest. Phil got up to 12 miles per hour (queue in The Six Million Dollar Man sound effects). Both of our testers said they definitely felt the burn, and got a great cardio workout to boot.
While at Alter-G we sneaked a peek at a prototype unit targeted at the youngest rehabilitation patients, the “Pediatric G-Trainer”. The unit looked like a mini version of the G-Trainer. This would have made an awesome cameo shot in the Austin Power movie – imagine Dr.Evil and Mini-me jogging side by side in scaled G-Trainers…
The folks at Alter-G are constantly working to modify and improve upon their creations. We thank them and wish them well!