"No pain, no gain" has been an exercise mantra going all the way back to the days of the Jane Fonda aerobics video. But new workout systems like the Stealth Core Trainer bring your smartphone into the mix, which could spark a new mantra: Game the pain.
Love it or hate it, the plank is one of the best exercises for strengthening your core. But actually planking -- maintaining what amounts to a stiff, unmoving push-up, where you strive to keep your whole body rigid, like a plank of wood -- can be a little boring. That's where the Stealth Core Trainer comes in.
It looks like a fancy padded board on top, with a sphere on its underside that sits in a base module. The design allows you to swivel from side to side and up and down as you hold the plank position, ideally with your body perfectly parallel to the ground.
The other key element is a little compartment toward the top of the board. It has four sticky pads designed to keep your iOS or Android phone from moving around while you're using the Stealth app. And that's why Stealth calls it "an interactive fitness board."
The app starts with a simple game that uses your phone's accelerometer to move a target sight over dots that appear on the screen. You have to hold the sight on the dot for a few seconds to get the dot to explode. Later in the workout, the game changes a bit, making you follow a set of red dots to get to your main target to maximize the number of points you score.
There are ways to cheat -- you can bring your knees down and give your abs and back a temporary break while still playing the game -- but that would be silly, even if you do want to work your way to the top of the global leaderboard. The point is that your phone, and the game, are there to give you some extra incentive to hold your plank longer. And in my experience, they do.....