I’ve noticed that the Skillmill is that one piece of equipment that tends to sit unused in most gyms. Gym users seem to gravitate towards the traditional cardio equipment without stepping foot on the strange-looking curved machine in the corner. I’ve certainly been curious but always a little intimidated to attempt a run on a self-powered treadmill.
When I was invited to try a class with Run Junkie, it sounded like the perfect opportunity to familiarise myself with the Skillmill. Described as a running club where no one gets left behind, Run Junkie aim to take the simplicity and effectiveness of running outside and make it into a fun, invigorating and inspiring indoor workout.
So what is the Skillmill?
The Skillmill is a non-motorised treadmill which is controlled entirely by your own force. To increase the speed, shift your weight to your forefoot and move to the front end of the treadmill. To slow down, shift your weight back into your heels and move to the back. The resistance is simply controlled by a lever which goes from 0 to 10.
It’s incredibly simple to control and much more responsive than a regular treadmill. You can quickly transition between a walk, a run and a sprint without waiting for the belt to catch up. The Skillmill can be used for a range of different exercises and drills, including sled-pushes where you lean your weight forward into the handlebars and drive the band backwards.
The class lead by Rory Knight saw us work through a variety of running drills interspersed with squats and walking recoveries. We began by walking and jogging to get a feel for the motion of the machine, before launching into the main workout which was based on speed, power and endurance.
Data tracking is always an important feature to me, so I was pleased to see the console monitoring my speed, wattage, distance and time. I believe it’s also possible to sync this data to a smartphone app. It was fun to see exactly how fast I could go, watching the numbers increase as Rory encouraged us through 20, 30 and 40 second sprints.
Running on the Skillmill forced me to focus on my form, ensuring that I lifted my knees and landed on my forefoot in time to the beat of the music. The strategically placed mirrors also reminded me to keep my body upright and engage my core.
The sled-pushes at maximum resistance were a real challenge- taking long strides which immediately activated the glutes, hamstrings and calves. I was surprised at how simple, but effective the Run Junkie class was- in just 25 minutes, we had a very thorough and intense workout.
I’ll definitely be incorporating the Skillmill into my gym routine now that I have a better understanding of it’s uses. Short, intense speed sessions are my favourite kind of workout so Run Junkie classes are right up my street.
I attended the Run Junkie class as a guest of Health Bloggers Community, but all opinions are my own.
Have you ever tried the Skillmill?