personal training st. john's

personal training st. john's

image credit Airiarunning.com

“Do you want to run faster?”

Who doesn’t? The new Airia One running shoe says it can make you faster.

A few months ago, the Swedish company contacted me because of my running background and my website www.strongerrunner.com to test-drive these new shoes. I said yes, so as a discloser, these shoes were given to me for free.

I was curious to see how these shoes would feel because, as you can tell from the video above, the design is quite different from a traditional running shoe. Their website (http://www.airiarunning.com) says that this shoe is completely designed for running that you can’t even walk in them.

How they are supposed to work:

“Our theory: a biomechanical difference affects each stride. Muscles are utilized in unique capacities, and since our shoes alter the muscular usage patterns with a unique design, you will be able to run faster and/or longer, especially at your maximum efforts.” ~Airia One website

After reading the proclaimed advantages of running in the Airia One, I was a bit skeptical but very interested to see how they would perform. When I first put them on my feet, my immediate reaction was “Whoa, these feel super weird.” The website was right, they are definitely not made for walking.

Here’s a brief history on me before I continue. I’ve been running for about 15 years, 9 of them competitively. I was prescribed orthotics to help with flat feet, a bunion (right foot) and an IT Band problem (right leg). I wore orthotics in my trainers, racing flats, spikes and day-to-day shoes. After I stopped competing (2007), I weaned myself off my orthotics and was conscious of changing my running stride from mostly heel striking to forefoot or mid-foot striking, even on slower paced runs. I also started running in Nike’s first edition of the Nike Free. After some time, I built up my foot strength and am now completely free of my orthotics. I now prefer running in a lower profile shoe. My current favorite running shoe is the Mizuno Hitogami. Read more about it here http://www.mizunocda.com/running/mens/running-shoes/neutral/wave-hitogami.

So, having said that, with my change in running gait and foot strength, I was really interested to see the Airia One in action. Last side note, I’ve tried Newton running shoes (the running shoe with the lugs that also promote a mid-foot strike) at a shoe store only once, so I’m not able to comment on the similarities/dissimilarities between these two brands.

In my first run, it took me about 15-minutes to get used to them. They totally forced me to run on my mid-foot. My left foot felt fine, but my right foot felt a bit off (because of my bunion). I’m conscious enough to keep my leg tracking straight, but noticed in a slow motion video of me running (incline 1, speed 20.0 on a km-mode treadmill) that I over pronate on my right foot in the Airia One (additional expert commentary is welcome!). From the rear view you can see my left ankle also over pronates. This irks me because it could lead to an overuse injury due to poor running mechanics.

I’ve included a video of me running in the Mizuno Hitogami as well for comparison sake. In the Hitogami, you can see (in my opinion) optimal pronation in both feet/ankles.

Mizuno Hitogami vs Airia from Jon-Erik Kawamoto on Vimeo.

Anyway, I tried the shoes on concrete, gravel and grass. I ran a few easy runs (60% max heart rate) and also did an interval workout with them. The faster running did feel a bit smoother compared to the slower paced running. However, in all my runs, my right foot never felt right. I felt that these shoes exacerbated my bunion issues.

Summary

What I liked:
-the promotion of a forefoot running gait (and that’s about it sadly enough)

What I didn’t like:
-right foot felt weird the entire time while the left foot felt “normal” (if my right foot was more like my left (no bunion) I might have enjoyed the ride a bit more)
-right big toe joint felt a unique stress that is absent in the Hitogami (perhaps my lack of big toe joint extension – because of my bunion – was really challenged in the Airia One)
-the shoe felt a bit heavy (US size 9.5)
-the price seems expensive, so I’m curious to see how many runners would actually purchase this shoe (even though my pair was free) vs a pair of Newtons

I heard really good things about it from my sister, and I could see the positive results she was getting.  I needed to do something.  I was overweight, depressed, and recovering from a back injury.  I had reached a point where simply getting up out of a chair was becoming difficult.  I knew that if I didn’t do something about it my senior years would be very burdensome to the people close to me.  I’m so glad I did!  After just a few weeks my day-to-day pain was drastically reduced, and my mobility increased. I had the confidence to try sea kayaking, and I now play ice hockey twice a week!

The key difference is the expertise.  The trainers know the gym equipment and the exercises, but they also have degrees in kinesiology, and can apply what they know to your workout.  As someone who was in poor physical condition starting out, I was worried about hurting myself.  Previously I tried an outdoor weekly bootcamp and injured my knee by pushing too hard.  The trainers at JKC constructed a program that started at the right level for me, evolving it as I grew stronger and more fit.  I feel well looked after.

log overhead press

I had tried JKC based on the recommendation of a parent of one of my students. I originally started by attending Saturday drop in classes. I was hooked. I decided to join full time when I I had taken a year off from teaching and it was the best thing I have done for myself.

First and foremost the trainers at JKC are extremely knowledgeable. I feel like they are as dedicated to my success as I am. The workouts are tailored to me, my skills and my goals. This is important. Jon and Thomas truly want the best for their clients no matter what level of fitness they are starting from. I also like being able to book a session at a time that suits my schedule. This also helps keep me accountable. Once the session is booked I am not likely to cancel!

I joined JKC because I wanted to better care for my physical health, but didn’t really know how, or where, to begin.  Seeking help from a trainer seemed like a wise choice, and I had heard great things about the staff at JKC. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate exercising.  So, I’ve only ever tried sticking with a gym routine twice in my life.  Each experience consisted of me wandering around, not knowing what to do, and settling for an elliptical machine or something else that seemed comfortable and non-threatening.  Each session was the same, and I felt like I was wasting my time.

Each session at JKC, however, is specifically crafted for me.  I don’t have to think about what to do, because I’m told what to do.  I don’t have to worry about how to do things properly, because I’m shown (sometimes multiple times!) how to accomplish each task.  I don’t have to be concerned about slipping into a comfortable routine, because Jon and Thomas won’t let that happen.

I saw an article in Men’s Journal that quoted Jon in about 2018 while traveling and was impressed that someone in St. John’s made that international magazine.  Jon spoke about an exercise called the Farmer’s Walk and I started working that into my routine at the YMCA. I tore that article out of the magazine and kept it, meaning to make contact, but got busy. Then I had lunch with an old friend Bruce Dyke. I hadn’t seen Bruce for a while and I remarked that he looked super healthy and fit. He told me about his, and his son Cas’, experience at JKC and then I remembered the Men’s Journal article! No coincidences!

The experience is unique on many levels – great people, camaraderie, passion, purpose, and dedication. Jon and Thomas are attentive, precise and understanding.  Their teaching has unlocked a new perspective for me with what our bodies are capable of. I still appreciate the YMCA, wonderful place, but I can’t imagine working out without Jon and Thomas now.

JKC is different from other gyms/fitness regimes I have tried in the past because of my level of comfort with the facility and other JKC clients and the amount of knowledge both Jon and Thomas demonstrate through personal attention to form, core development and overall strength is outstanding. JKC is by far the best training hands on attention that I’ve experienced period and I have experienced many over a lifetime of activity and playing various sports. The facility has everything you require plus, as you will learn there are many ways to use every piece of equipment and Jon and Thomas are very creative! There are many age groups and professions who attend this gym from elite athlete’s to the rest of us and the casual but focused atmosphere in the gym makes each visit interesting, friendly and challenging at all levels.

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