Getting down to the core of Halo training
-Bryce Taylor MS, PT
Let's start with a story. I grew up like most boys, aspiring to be on the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine. I always read the magazine from cover to cover. I learned how to raise a dumbbell and push a leg press and probably not too much more than that. To much disappointment, my body would probably never look like those greasy,vein-popping, muscle-heads. And I'm OK with that...now.
As I entered undergraduate studies, I was inspired by fitness and rehabilitation, so I pursued human biology and continued to learn about fitness trends. I spent several months of my sophomore year in college and some time in graduate school practicing the "super slow" method that was advocated by Ken Hutchins long before and inspired by Arthur Jones (inventor of Nautilus resistance equipment). This high intensity, low volume, single set to failure kind of training was...well...intense. The idea behind it was efficiency and the elimination of momentum for strength training. I must admit that although it was not fun, it produced results. As I moved into my career as a physical therapist and post-rehab trainer, I took pride in creating modifications of well-known exercises for my patients and clients.
Fast forward 10 years, I found the next inspiring piece of equipment--the Wii balance board. I found that by altering calibration settings, one could work on core stabilization exercises with the feedback of weight distribution. Basically, this means that I could finally afford a force plate. One of my early innovations was using balance boards, BOSU, and stability balls on the surface of the Wii balance board to resist the unstable nature of these devices with the addition of feedback. I had a great time creating rehab protocols for low back pain, ankle injuries, anterior knee pain, shoulder pain, etc. with the combination of body positions, variable heights, stability props, and calibration settings. After some time I discovered that although this bodyweight training was effective and enjoyable for the client, the stability ball was awkward and even dangerous for many folks. Enter the Halo Trainer, the first ergonomic handlebar apparatus that would work atop a stability ball. I also found that when the Halo Trainer was placed in a down position it acted like a wall corner, offering enough stability to be used in new ways. The Halo Trainer has become the most frequently used equipment in my physical therapy practice and one of the few pieces of equipment that I use to train fitness clients.
The concept of the Halo Trainer is to maximize bodyweight training with as little equipment as possible. By using the force of gravity on our own body mass in various inclines, frames of support, positions, lever lengths, planes of motion, I have found the combination of the Halo with the stability ball to be the most versatile for creating differing levels of stability. As I have always told my patients that you are only as strong as your weakest link and that you can't build a palace on a mudslide, so it is crucial to create stability from the core muscles.
Time for another story. Going back to the late 1990's, I recall as a personal trainer, I saw this movement called Pilates growing very rapidly. One of the group exercise instructors and one of the personal trainers completed their entry level certification and began instructing individual, small group reformer, and large group mat Pilates. They would try to convince me that Pilates training was somehow superior to some of the rehabilitation techniques for back pain. It took over a decade but I was finally convinced that core training should be very deliberate and controlled. I have since pursued Pilates instructor training and can report that it has helped many of my patients and clients. Halo training can be best described as Pilates-inspired progressive series of exercises that can be mixed to create recipes for weight loss, strength, cardio, flexibility, etc. always with "core" as the main ingredient. In other words, Halo training is core-centric training to be individually designed for maximum effectiveness. The Halo programming has been an absolute pleasure to design and I want to thank the interns that have helped create these innovative exercises over the past two years.
Please, grab a Halo Trainer and join in to "get a grip on your core."