Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Stretched, racked, and pummeled in pursuit of the perfect stature

Cast your mind back to a couple of weeks ago, I was talking about being stretched on a rack, and hung upside down.

Daily Express readers will have realised today when they turned to page 34 and 35 what that was all about.

I am emblazoned across the centre of the paper being pulled into all manner of positions as part of a stretching workout that claimed to make me taller.

Yes, you heard right – taller.

I have to say at this point that I am not unhappy with my height (5’10.5), but I love the chance to try something new, and as I have never been racked before I jumped at the chance.

I was given a private session at Gymbox, in Holborn, and my torturer? A personal trainer called Pierre Pozzuto.

Pleasant chap, but don’t be fooled, on his mission to make me taller, he was prepared to inflict pain.

The details are in the story, so I’ll not repeat everything, but there is more to this stretching lark than just a bit of gentle yoga and Pilates.

These did feature (by the way yoga is more taxing than it sounds), but there was also hanging upside down, intense aerobics, and, yes, the dreaded rack.

Actually, that was the easiest part of the whole thing, a bit of down time to rest up and have my muscles tautened – as the ropes clenched and the wheel creaked, I remember thinking that  I would have stood up quite well in the inquisition.

Being hung upside down though, that was not quite so relaxing. In fact it was the most terrifying part of the whole thing.

The purpose of this was “spinal decompression”, to allow the bones in my spine to be drawn out lengthways. 

It looks fairly simple, but I have never before felt so frightened and disorientated.

I can only describe it as being on a roller coaster when it goes round in a loop, although you know you are strapped in, your instincts tell you to panic.

Pierre secured these hooked harnesses to my ankles.

He  then told me to grab onto the bars overhead, pull myself up, swing my legs up, and hook myself on.

Ha! – you’re having a laugh. It ended up taking two people to hoist my quivering bones up onto that frame, and two more to get me down.

Pierre told me to just relax and “let everything hang”, but I my head started to pound, everything went upside down, and this terrible feeling I was going to fall paralysed me.

But I hung for a bit, grinned for the camera, before I was given the OK to get back down again.

I have  never been so relieved to be unhooked from a metal bar.

In terms of the aerobics I consider myself to be quite fit,  but as I have discovered before, sharp bursts of intense exercise are incredibly exhausting.

They say it is the best way to get fit, and I agree. After one minute of working out I was puffing, panting and hoping Pierre would say – that’s it for now.

Not a chance, heaving myself up on straps was next. Again:  “as quick as you can Nathan”, as I limply dragged myself about half an inch off the ground.

These personal trainer types, they don’t let you off the hook (no pun intended) easily.

More stretching, yoga, pulling, yanking before it was time for the bit I was most looking forward to.

There is definitely some perverse pleasure from being able to say I have been pulled on a 15th century-esque piece of torture equipment. And I didn't crack.

And as I said, of all of it, this was perhaps the nicest bit.

So the verdict - I grew 1.4cm. What a result, it was all worth it.

I checked with a doctor about all this, and although he agreed the workout could potentially do all it claimed, he was skeptical of some of the science – have a look, and make up your own minds.

It was certainly good fun to do, and if nothing else, I felt fitter afterwards.

For details visit www.gymbox.com or call 0845 241 5220.

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