Once again, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine in Minneapolis gave me a remarkable experience last month. On a cool November morning, I got up at 5:00 am to drive downtown and meet with Adam, an EXOS trainer, and his weekday morning EXOS Rally training group. I didn’t know what to expect going into the session, so I was relieved with a pleasant check-in and was walked into the women’s locker area to drop off my bag. I was then escorted to meet Adam in their on site training facility.
It was a little intimating stepping out onto the green indoor turf not knowing what the next hour would entail. After being introduced to Adam, he wasted no time instructing me to warm up on the bike like I’ve been coming in every morning for the last year. I hopped on the bike and warmed up as I got a good look at the place. It is large but not overwhelming. There is plenty of different kinds of equipment, but not so much I would get lost. There were 4 others training that morning and they were all focused on their workouts and friendly to me.
The EXOS Rally trainees do a tailored program to achieve specific goals Monday thru Friday. There is variation everyday to keep it interesting and work different muscle groups. Adam mentioned with the impending holidays, the group was focusing more on body composition. In addition to a rotating strength training circuit, the group also challenges their anaerobic thresholds with different cardio machines like, the vertical climber, the curve treadmill, and the spin bike.
I took a lot of notes after my session detailing what Adam worked through with me as a recreational marathoner, including different exercises to improve and strengthen areas that can be problematic for runners. To highlight some of my experience for you I can break it down to: the warm up and the runner’s problem areas. Following those focuses we worked on arms, legs, and core strength. Lastly, I did cardio sprints. Again, as an anaerobic high-intensity workout.
I hope my readers want to visit Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine to train and learn, and not learn it from me. Post-marathon recovery is different for every individual and I am confident my strict training plan kept me injury free and able to continue to run post-race, starting only a few days after the rigorous event. Continuing the EXOS rally sessions would improve my running form and strengthen me as a female recreational athlete.
After warm-up, Adam described some typical runner problem areas including: the gluteal muscle, hips, and hamstrings. For example, we began some of my workout with a deep quad stretch, some squats, and inchworm. Adam also had me walk with a mini band around my knees to create some resistance training.
Video Credit: EXOS Website
For body work, I performed kettlebell dead lifts, across body rope pull, overhead press, and reverse lunges. I also had to use these little devil slides on the turf to work my core. I assumed forearm plank position and put my toes onto the polished slides. I then hiked my hips an inch or two and released. I just started laughing it was so hard. Like, seriously Adam, just a plank alone is challenge enough. I had fun trying though, and that’s what it’s all about!
Video Credit: EXOS Website
A new experience for me was using the TRX suspension trainers. Adam had me work pull-ups, plank to pike, and leg curls by positioning straps to suspend my body for the ultimate strength training experience. These exercises were challenge and refreshing because I’ve never done any training like it before.
Video Credit: EXOS Website
Something I have learned about myself over the last few years of my fitness journey is: I thrive under routine, accountability, and results. Having a trainer, like Adam, to keep me focused and accountable, would no doubt make me a better runner. Many runners are coming into the end of the year holidays and are in the “off-season”. Especially while we are off a training plan, using the EXOS rally group would be a great way to stay in absolute shape! Also to mention, the program continues to evolve and challenge you, and would increase your fitness in areas that are weak from concentrating solely on running.
Nearing the end of our one-hour session, Adam guided me through some cardio work to get my heart rate up and my body sweating! First, I did the vertical climber (see an example of this machine: here). I have never used this machine before and I tell you, it is a beast! I worked the vertical climber for 45 seconds and rested for 45 seconds. Seriously, by the second set I was ready to be done. It shot my heart rate up like no sprint I have ever done.
Next, was the Curve treadmill. Adam warned me the Rally group liked to stay away from the machine. The Curve treadmill has a display but it isn’t propelled by an automated moving belt, but by the runner. Once I started running, the Curve treadmill ran with me. The self-powered treadmill allowed me to run at 9 MPH (6:40 min/mile) in a matter of seconds. You just can’t do that right from the start on a regular treadmill.
It is important to mention the EXOS rally experience is not just for the runner. Adam mentioned he works with the recreational marathoner like myself, as well as, elite athletes, students, and athletes recovering from injury or orthopedic surgery. EXOS helps you achieve your goals. Maybe you want to lose weight, get stronger, or run a race. For me, I want to become a stronger woman to support some goals for 2017: a faster marathon, a potential triathlon, to remain a healthy weight, to keep a positive body image, and to remain injury free.
Meeting with Adam for the EXOS rally session was truly an awesome experience. I learned so much more than I could tell you today. Also to mention, I had a lot of fun and I was very impressed with the facilities and all Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Minneapolis has to offer for all athletes and athletic abilities.