Tried and tested: Ankorr harness workouts

Resistance is not futile

Tried and tested: Ankorr harness workouts
Rich Herrera puts himself through a gruelling workout designed for soldiers and elite athletes

Ankorr is the world's first animate load harness that allows the user to move back and forth while remaining under constant load. If you're a fitness buff, you'd have heard of Ankorr by now — a relatively new anaerobic exercise regime in Singapore that made its waves in the UK late last year.

Initially designed as a training tool for elite-level athletes and soldiers, the harness gives them the option to undergo resistance training while simulating their movements in game- and field-specific situations. Workouts facilitated via the Ankorr system are designed to increase one's strength, endurance, mobility, and anaerobic threshold. Its creator Nathan Helberg emphasises that the Ankorr harness helps to increase the body's strength endurance through a greater range of motion, allowing you to become more explosive with your movements and less susceptible to injuries. I put this to the test. 

At the newly minted Ankorr class at Virgin Active, I found myself tied to a post with a bungee cord leash. Every move I executed was made much more difficult as I fought to yank myself forward while preventing my body from being flung back into the wall. 

Jeff Huang, our consistently supportive instructor made us perform three sets of three primal exercises comprising bear crawls, short sprints, and step-throughs. We performed the three exercises for one minute each before settling down for a minute of rest between each set. The goal of the bear crawls and short sprints was to explode forward to the maximum stretch of our bungee cord and return under total body control. The muscles on my back and legs held up well, but my arms and shoulders started to show their first signs of weakness. The constant work they received from a seemingly simple bear crawl exposed my lack of shoulder strength endurance very early into the second set.

The sprints and backpedals seemed like a cakewalk after the bear crawls — but Jeff had other plans for us. He urged us to push on for more reps, setting the bar at 20 per minute. Good form was certainly the first thing to wane halfway into the second set.

The third exercise in the set was the dreaded step-through. When executed in strict textbook form, what seems like an elementary gymnastic move will give you a newfound respect for the core strength possessed by breakdancers. Jeff was quite the stickler when it came to keeping both hands on the ground at all times while stepping all the way past the opposing grounding leg.

At the end of the day, we only performed three sets of three exercise — but they were more than enough to leave our dedicated class of eight gasping for air while our arms and legs twitched violently with fatigue. The one-minute rest periods between each set flew by incredibly fast. Jeff shared that the eventual goal for the class was to hit seven sets consecutively. This might seem daunting for a first-timer like me but it's not altogether unachievable.

Needless to say, I will be going back. There's much more suffering to be paid.

Keen to put yourself through a total-body blitz? Ankorr classes are offered three times a week at Virgin Active.

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