By Karen Asp, MA

Get Tough With Tubing


ith so much new equipment emerging all the time, it’s easy to forget about those tried-and-true elastic tubes and bands. But guess what? They are making a strong comeback in group fitness classes. And for a good reason: Used well, they really work! If you review a few principles and get a creative jumpstart, you can rediscover elastic resistance and help your class participants derive maximum benefit from it. Once you understand how to use this type of resistance safely and effectively, then designing and leading exercises will be a snap.

ferent tubing tensions (coded by color), exercises can be tailored to individual needs within a group.
Tubes Facilitate Proper Technique.

For participants who aren’t in tune with body positioning, elastic resistance provides an easy-to-follow path of motion. That is, exercisers can see the pathway the band is describing in space as it moves from start to end position (i.e., from anchor point to final contraction point). This visual cue helps reinforce participants’ awareness of the working muscles and joints.

should resist the temptation to move their limbs closer on the elastic to increase tension. A close-in grip may compromise good biomechanical position, increase the resistance factor too much or inappropriately reduce range of motion.
Have Participants First Practice Each Move Without Resistance.

Using Tubes Correctly
When working with elastic resistance, you can optimize your participants’ experience by offering the following assistance:
Help Participants Choose Proper Resistance. Keep in mind the properties of elastic; newer tubes are tighter, thus harder to stretch, than older ones. Thicker tubes are also usually tougher than thinner ones. And as we stretch a tube, its elasticity (resistance factor) can change significantly as it gets longer and narrower. Participants who attempt to work with too much resistance risk injury; they should select a thinner tube with less tension. On the other hand, those who work with too little resistance–indicated by slack in the elastic–should be encouraged to progress to the next color or use two thin tubes at once. If slack tubing is a problem, participants

Santa Barbara, California, fitness presenter Dody Benko-Livingston, the 1997 recipient of the Christine MacIntyre Memorial Award, says, “Tell them how the exercise should feel, not just [how it should] look. Then, if they need to make an adjustment, they can do so before adding tubing.”
Cue the Anchor Position for Each

Why Use Elastic Resistance?
The benefits of bands and tubes (referred to simply as “tubes” or “tubing” from here on) are numerous:
Tubes Fatigue Muscles TimeEfficiently. This is because elastic resistance offers participants resistance during both the lifting and the lowering phases. “Tubes provide an appropriate way to achieve overload in group fitness classes,” says Ottawa resident Marla Ericksen, international fitness presenter, Reebok master trainer and owner of Empower M.E. International. Tubes Are Versatile. They can be used in numerous exercises and can work many muscle groups. With dif-

A participant can appear to be moving successfully, yet have the tubing wrapped incorrectly or insecurely. When instructing participants to anchor resistance under their feet, “make sure the elastic is under the instep with the weight evenly distributed across the four corners of the feet,” Ericksen says. The feet are just one anchor point; elastic resistance can also be anchored under a step, in the hands of a partner, on a ballet bar or on specially fastened hooks. Practice each exercise yourself to test anchor points.
Exercise. Monitor Participants’ Grip and Alignment Throughout Class.

Participants who cannot maintain joint or postural alignment may be using too much resistance. In particular, watch