Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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St. Petersburg fitness fanatic gives strange-looking exercise machines a workout

ST. PETERSBURG

Rob Snyder gets bored easily. The 44-year-old fitness fanatic will do just about anything to get his heart pumping.

"I used to be a wrestler in high school," explained the St. Petersburg native. "We were always looking for different ways to work out, make weight."

Run stairs, climb trees, pushups on park benches … you name it, Snyder's tried it.

"Rollerblades, bikes and ripsticks (a kind of modified skateboard) have all been part of my routine," he explained.

In recent years, the chiseled father of two teenagers has been a regular fixture on St. Petersburg's iconic waterfront. If you jog, walk or ride along North Shore Park you may recognize Snyder as that "crazy guy" who whizzes by almost daily on any one of several strange-looking exercise machines.

"Crazy equals fun," said Snyder, a professional DJ and entertainer who also moonlights as a professional trainer. "What really matters is the workout."

Snyder's rock-hard abdominal muscles are living proof that unconventional activity can be just as rewarding as those standards from high school gym class.

Here are a few of Snyder's favorites:

Jump stilts

These may look like fun, but remember, before you can run on these funky risers, you've got to learn to walk on them.

While YouTube may have videos of people running 25 mph and doing flips over parked cars, leave the stunts for the professionals. Jump stilts will pay off in the long run, but it takes time and commitment to master this exercise device.

"It took me a couple weeks before I could run, but I love a good challenge," Snyder said. "These things weigh 9 pounds each, so they really do work the core and legs."

While mastering jump stilts will also improve your balance, coordination and overall endurance, Snyder does not recommend them for somebody who is just starting out on an exercise program.

"But if you are already pretty fit and are looking for something different, then this might be just for you," Snyder said.

This model sells for $479. For more information, go to Air-Trekkers.com.

ElliptiGO S8

Go to most gyms or fitness centers and you will see a row of elliptical machines lined up in front of the TVs. But have you ever thought of taking an elliptical machine outside?

"This particular device takes a mindless activity and gives it a big shot of adrenaline," Snyder said. "It's like nothing you've ever rode before."

The ElliptiGO has been described as "running on air." Once you get the hang of it, you can cruise at 18 to 20 mph, which is more like "springing" on air. The aluminum frame and road bike components, combined with adjustable ride height and stride length, show that this machine was made for runners by runners.

"It's not a bike," Snyder said. "It is an elliptical, pedal-driven scooter."

The ElliptiGO is a great way for runners to cross-train, since you can get that "runner's high," without the bone-jarring impact. Unlike running, the ElliptiGO not only works the legs, butt and core, but also the arms, shoulders and chest.

"I like it because it's fast," Snyder said. "But it also gives me a great full-body workout."

Prices range from $1,799 to $3,499. Go to elliptigo.com for more information.

Trikke T8

Every kid does it: stop pedaling for a moment, then coast, but just before gravity drags the bike down, wiggle the handlebars back and forth to make it go for a few more feet.

Combine that motion with the leg movement of an inline skater and you have the science behind the Trikke T8.

This tricycle on steroids is the ultimate carving machine. Made of lightweight alloy, it is simple and easy to use, making it another low-impact training option for multisport athletes.

"There's a slight learning curve but most people get the hang of it within minutes," Snyder said. "Once you learn it, you can cruise at around 14 mph. The top speed on flat ground, no wind, is slightly more than 21 mph."

The Trikke folds flat and weighs just 21 pounds, which makes it ideal for travel. "It is truly a gym on wheels," Snyder said. "I use the Trikke in the folded position like a dumbell, and in the open position I use it as a pushup platform or like an ab roller, executing jackknives, planks and pushups."

Prices range from $249 trikke.com for more information.

Rowbike

The rowbike is the most challenging of all the apparatus that Snyder uses in his training regimen. "Once mastered, there is nothing like it," he said. "If you're looking to burn fat, build muscle and increase your endurance, this is the machine for you."

Invented by one of the pioneers of inline skating, the rowbike is basically a rowing machine on wheels. The single-speed model pictured here is one of the first built. Newer models are still made of aluminum but have a shorter wheel base and a more efficient design.

The new rowbikes also have seven gears, which make climbing the overpasses on the Pinellas Trail easier. With a starting price of $1,347 the rowbike is comparable in cost to a high-end rowing machine you might find at the gym. But with the rowbike, you get to sweat outside. Go to rowbike.com.

     
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