What it is: A form of osteogenic loading, which is designed to improve bone density, strength, balance and posture without impact.
The concept: Weight-bearing (aka, load-bearing) exercise is essential for healthy bones, especially for older adults. When we do high-impact activities (run, jump, lift weights), we compress our bones, which can trigger development of new bone growth (osteogenesis). The load we put on our bones can be measured in multiples of body weight. According to the American Bone Health organization, the load required to stimulate bone building is 4.2 times the body weight.
I’m not going to reveal the numbers on my scale, but suffice it to say I can’t lift multiples of my body weight. And, despite the fact that I work out at least four times a week, I’m aging out of high-impact aerobics.
That’s where OsteoStrong comes in. It uses special machines to provide a short but intense workout designed to benefit your bones.
The workout: It sounds exhausting, but it isn’t. OsteoStrong requires only a single, 7- to 10-minute session once a week. You don’t need to do any prep or wear special clothes. During your session (the company prefers that word to “workout”), you’re always accompanied by a session coach.
Getting started: Each session begins and ends by standing on a vibration board for 2 minutes to warm up. I found it jarring until center manager Ryan Dayton suggested I bend my knees a bit. That made it better.
Then he invited me to do some simple movements. He led me in an easy series of shoulder rolls, hip circles, a few squats and balance exercises (standing on one leg a time).
While I didn’t have an instant affinity for the vibration board, warming up on it wasn’t difficult or strenuous.
A trial run: If you’ve lifted weights, the four machines that make up the OsteoStrong Spectrum System will seem familiar: There’s the upper growth trigger, which looks like a chest press; the lower growth trigger, which looks like a leg press; the core growth trigger, which looks like a crunch machine, and the postural growth trigger, which is somewhere between a dead lift and picking up a wheelbarrow.
But Dayton didn’t lead me through a set of traditional presses. Instead, he guided me into the correct position on each machine, then asked me to take a single slow, easy practice press, to get the feel of it. Then I took a full press as hard as I could and held it for several seconds.
What it’s like: The elbows up-and-out position on the chest press seemed odd. But that’s because it, like the positions for the other machines, is designed to mimic how your body reacts to a fall. Once I got correctly aligned, it was challenging to push as hard as I could and hold, but it wasn’t painful. I concentrated on pressing, breathing and watching the digital readout of the pressure I was exerting, which is measured in pounds and multiples of body weight. It was a rush when I met — or exceeded — the goal for each machine.
Long-term gain: If you’re looking to improve balance or build muscle strength, you might see improvement in a month or so. To increase bone density, it is likely to take six months to a year. (To measure improvement, you might want to have a bone density scan before you begin. Contact your doctor.)
Who it’s for: While OsteoStrong is for “anybody with a skeleton,” according to Dayton, it tends to attract people with bone-density issues (such as osteoporosis and osteopenia) or balance issues, as well as active people and athletes looking for an edge, dealing with joint pain or recovering from injuries.
Who it’s not for: Pregnant women and those with muscular dystrophy.
Cost: The monthly $139 fee includes one session a week with a coach. There also are packages that include other services. The one-time enrollment fee is $99.
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday.
Location: 8345 Crystal View Road, Suite 100, Eden Prairie. osteostrong.me, 651-583-5001. The Texas-based company has franchises across the country. The Eden Prairie location is currently the only one in Minnesota.