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An interview with Derek Mikulski, inventor of the ActivMotion Bar

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How did you get in the fitness industry?

I am 28 years old and up until the age of 19, I was always overweight and irresponsible with my health. At 19, I educated myself regarding diet and exercise and, over the next two years, lost 80 pounds. This experience is what motivated me to pursue a career in fitness. Since then I have accomplished the following education-related accolades: B.S. from Central Michigan University in Health and Health Education, Personal Training Certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI), Senior Fitness Specialist (SFS) through NASM, Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) from the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), and I am also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

How did you come up with the idea of the ActivMotion Bar?

I have always been inventive, and have always questioned the status quo out of genuine curiosity. Since losing weight, I have also had the desire to help people achieve their fitness and health-related goals. Because of this, immediately after graduating college, I became a personal trainer. During my time spent as a trainer, I realized there was a gap that existed in the industry - there was no unstable training tool available that people could lift to challenge and improve their mind-muscle coordination, balance, core and total body strength in a safe, functional way. Sure, there are "slosh pipes" - PVC tubes filled with water - but these are far too heavy for most people and can be very dangerous. They are hard to hold onto and the water inside of them is so uncontrollable that the training environment becomes extremely frustrating and non-functional. So, I created the ActivMotion Bar - a familiar, non-intimidating and safe fitness bar that is hollow and filled with round steel weights that glide smoothly and gently within. The ActivMotion Bars produce vibrations that users can feel and hear as the bar is lifted, providing sensory feedback that helps them link up their mind and body to stabilize the bar. When used in more intense multi planar bending and twisting exercises, the weights inside the bar generate momentum that pulls the user further in the direction that the bar is moving, forcing reaction and core engagement.

Have you had any studies done on the effectiveness of the ActivMotion Bar?

No, we have not yet had any formal clinical/scholarly studies completed on the ActivMotion Bar and its effects regarding strength and balance training. But, we do intend on engaging in a study to measure muscle activity while using an ActivMotion Bar versus a standard solid fitness bar with EMG technology in the future. What we are sure to find is that more muscle tissue is activated while using an ActivMotion Bar because of the simple fact that more core and stability muscles have to be engaged to manage the unstable bar which leads to better balance training.

Have you worked with the senior population with regards to those needing to improve their balance?

Yes, we have tested ActivMotion Bars with seniors and, "active adults", however the testing was informal and was not specific to seniors with physiological ailments. I can honestly say to you that although nothing was formally documented, it was confirmed by all the individuals we worked with (and by our personal observation) that the ActivMotion Bars provided an excellent and safe means of core strength and balance training. Many of these people reported that it was great to have their balance challenged without having to stand on a balance platform or Bosu Ball.
We have had personal trainers and physical therapists buy the bars and use them with their older clients, and have even had seniors purchase our ActivMotion Bars for use in their home due to the exceptional core and balance training workouts they provide.

Why do you think this would be a good product for older adults?

First, the unstable nature of the products makes them ideal for training the ever important, "mind-muscle connection" that every senior needs in order to stay balanced, coordinated, mentally sharp and independent. As the unstable bar is lifted, seniors are constantly challenging the connection between their brain and their muscles as they attempt to stabilize the bar, acting and reacting to the internal shifting weights. During this process, they train their neuromuscular system to work better and strengthen the neural connection between their brain and muscles. Second, during this same process, seniors have no choice but to activate additional muscles to assist in the lifting and stabilizing of the bar. The muscles mainly involved here are the core muscles, which help stabilize the trunk and help facilitate all human movement! Strengthening these areas is key for everyone, but especially seniors since a strong core usually means less back pain, stronger hips and better mobility. Lastly, the ActivMotion Bars are very non-intimidating, safe and easy to use.

******

Editor's Note: Derek Mikulski and his ActivMotion Bar team will be exhibiting at the IDEA World Fitness Convention August 13-17, 2014 in Anaheim, California.

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