WALKING IS THE NEW STANDING.
Winston Churchill used a standing desk. He was also a phenomenally prolific writer. Coincidence? Not for Ron Wiener, a former Portlander who now heads iMovR (imovr.com), a Seattle manufacturer of adjustable-height and treadmill desks. In November, the company surpassed a $15,000 goal on Kickstarter to build a new treadmill—the ThermoTread—that Wiener says should be available in the next six months.
"You're walking 1 to 2 miles per hour," Wiener says. "If you're sweating, you're doing it wrong. It's not about exercise, it's about increasing your metabolism, blood flow to the brain, happiness and focus." (A competitive online chess player, Wiener found that he won far more matches while standing than while sitting.)
Previously, iMovR paired its desks with treadmills manufactured elsewhere. What will distinguish this new workstation? Among other features, a highly adjustable yet rigid keyboard tray and, with certain models, an Internet connection that enables comprehensive data tracking. Wiener says the treadmill will cost about $1,500—and that's without the adjustable-height desk, which will probably set you back at least another $1,000.
APPS ARE THE NEW GYM MEMBERSHIP CARDS.
Fitmob (fitmob.com) caters to athletic omnivores. The San Francisco startup expanded to Portland in December, with a $99 monthly membership that gets you access to about 20 gyms and a cleanly designed mobile app. That's more than you'll pay at, say, 24 Hour Fitness, but at least your body won't get bored: You can take classes at places that specialize in spinning, yoga, crossfit, kettlebell, jiu jitsu or Pilates. In other cities, Fitmob-exclusive classes have popped up, too—flash mob-style workouts ranging from circuit training on the San Francisco Embarcadero to yoga in an Austin art gallery.
FAILURE IS THE NEW SUCCESS.
The bare-bones studio at Firebrand Sports is filled with contraptions that look like Pilates machines on steroids: intimidating spring-loaded devices with sliding panels, bungees and straps. These are Megaformers, designed by Portland State alum and Hollywood trainer Sebastien Lagree, and Firebrand claims spending 50 minutes on the machine during a Pyrolates class will transform your body. (At least if you come back three to four times a week, anyway.)
The workout is high-octane but low-impact. Some of this plays out as yoga in constant, controlled motion—repeatedly piking into downward-facing dog from plank pose, sliding in and out of lunges—and it takes your core muscles for a ferocious ride. Basic squats require serious balance when your back foot is on a runaway train. A man near me starts to shake spastically. "That's what muscle failure looks like!" says Firebrand owner Sara Stimac encouragingly, batting her long lashes. "That shaking is what we're going for!"
I wake up the next day with very sore abs. And a slimmer wallet—the first class is $15, but the regular drop-in rate is $30. Firebrand Sports, 500 NW 14th Ave., 715-5573. See firebrandsports.com for a full schedule.
FITNESS BANDS ARE THE NEW PERSONAL TRAINERS.
Forget the Nike FuelBand. Go for the fitness tracker that's actually locally made: the Ssmart Dynamo from Oregon Scientific, a comparatively weensy company based not in Beaverton but in (ooh!) Tualatin. It's a lightweight, basic band: You can set goals, log exercise and track sleep, and then synchronize that data to an app on your smartphone. It's water-resistant up to 10 meters (something many fitness trackers aren't) and boasts interchangeable color bands—meaning that if you're not feeling particularly #healthgoth today, you can rock it in turquoise or orange. $79.99, available at oregonscientific.com.
VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES ARE THE NEW FITNESS BUDDIES.
A social-media network for those who race, AthletePath (athletepath.com) allows you to register for events and track your results. The local startup, founded in September 2011, will even send out notifications to friends when you cross the finish line—which is particularly delicious when they're hung over and in line for brunch and you just logged a half-marathon. Maybe they'll give you a virtual high five anyway.
Strava (strava.com), meanwhile, isn't based in Portland—the ride- and run-tracking app has its headquarters in San Francisco—but the Oregon Department of Transportation has purchased its cycling data in order to build better bike lanes. Last spring, ODOT spent $20,000 on a one-year license of Strava's data set, and it's harnessing this information in valuable ways: figuring out where to install rumble strips on highways, for example, and improving risky intersections.
BATTLE ROPES ARE THE NEW KETTLEBELLS.
Way fiercer than jump ropes, heavy battle ropes build both endurance and strength. At Peak Condition in Northeast Portland, athletes swing the 20-foot-long ropes in undulating motions, sometimes while lunging, squatting or hopping. It's like live-action sine waves. "We generally use it for cardiovascular development," says Peak Condition owner Paul Collins. "Endurance athletes beat up their legs when lifting, so this is an easy way to get them to do cardio that's not leg-dominant." That said, people tire pretty quickly: The explosive intervals rarely last longer than 30 seconds. Ropes are popular among mixed martial arts fighters practicing grappling, but Collins notes that "the vast majority of people use them for weight loss." Peak Condition, 2214 NE Oregon St., 971-258-1010, peakconditionpdx.com.
SWINGERS NIGHTS ARE THE NEW TINDER.
Climbing gym Planet Granite recently opened in Northwest Portland—it's the chain's first outpost outside the Bay Area—and it's Silicon Valley-level swank, especially for those accustomed to the chalky haze and ragged route tape at the Circuit. And every second Thursday of the month, the gym offers Singles & Swingers Night, which they claim is for finding new climbing buddies, but c'mon: This is basically speed dating for people who like snug harnesses, long ropes and rock-hard...rocks. Planet Granite, 1405 NW 14th Ave., 477-5666, planetgranite.com. 6:30 pm every second Thursday. $18 for a day pass.
The Health Goth Issue: