The X-Force effect

GHFC's exercise machines shed pounds, make you 'stronger faster'


Lydia Maree, left, the study coordinator for the five X-Force exercise machine programs at Gainesville Health & Fitness spots Sarah Peebles while she works out on the leg press X-Force machine in Gainesville on Friday.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, December 28, 2012 at 5:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 28, 2012 at 5:22 p.m.

Gainesville Health and Fitness instructor Lydia Maree opens up a file that reads like a Rolodex of before and after weight-loss photos. There's Angel, who has lost 88 pounds of fat and 18 inches off his waist; Bob, who dropped 94 pounds of fat and 10 inches off his thighs; Theresa, who lost 18 pounds of fat and built 8 pounds of muscle.

These success stories, which were achieved in the span of 6 months or less, have one thing in common: a set of exercise machines collectively called X-Force that delivers what its name promises — an intense resistance workout that has you working against the force of gravity.

As a result, you not only burn off fat and increase your metabolism, but build longer, leaner muscle that has been stretched out and strengthened by what physicists call “negative force.”

The concept of “doing negatives” is not new in weight training. Simply put, negatives take less time to achieve muscle failure and also involve using more muscle fibers. Doing negative repetitions has often involved spotters to help you lift up heavy weight.

But the X-Force machine, which was invented by a Swedish exercise physiology and engineering expert named Mats Thulin, tilts at a 45-degree angle every time you lift up, automatically adding 40 percent more weight on the way down.

The motion is smooth and safe and doesn't normally call for spotters, said Maree, who is the X-Force Program coordinator at Gainesville Health and Fitness. The gym is only one of two places in the country that has the machines, Maree said.

“I'm very passionate about these machines,” she said. “You get stronger faster, and people actually lose the fat. It's totally different than people losing weight. If you're losing muscle, you won't maintain your metabolism.”

Chuck Miller, 56, said he has lost and kept off 45 pounds and awakened muscles he didn't know he had using the X-Force machines. Each of the fourteen machines at the gym focus on a different muscle group, but each machine also works various muscles: For example, the machine resembling a leg press will work your quadriceps and lower back, then your hamstrings and glutes, and finally your calves.

“It's not for the weak of heart,” said Miller, who was in the Army for 28 years. When he got out of the service, he developed a condition that caused him to lose his eyesight.

“I started getting down in the dumps and gaining weight,” Miller said. That led to other health problems like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Miller has been off his medications for nine months now. He also eats better.

Breakfast is a cup of Kashi cereal with fat-free milk, and one cup of coffee; lunch is a ham sandwich and baby carrots; dinner is 4 ounces of meat, brown rice and veggies. He has two snacks — a cup of prunes or almonds — in the late morning and late afternoon. After dinner, he goes for a walk, and at night, he snacks on popcorn or eats an apple.

He also drinks a gallon of ice water each day. The water must be cold to increase metabolism.

The guiding principles of Miller's diet — 50 percent complex carbohydrates (think broccoli and brown rice instead of pasta and potatoes), 25 percent protein and 25 percent fats, plus a gallon of cold water each day — follow the advice of Dr. Ellington Darden, a renowned coach and nutrition expert based in Windermere, who designed exercise and nutrition programs around the X-Force machines.

Among the programs are those for fat-burning, muscle-building, and various sports-specific ones. Sessions last six weeks and can be repeated.

“We've had 142 people go through the program in the last 11 months. Most people reached their goals in 12 weeks,” Ellington said, adding that people shouldn't do other types of exercise if they are using the machines since they stimulate growth hormones and pull calories from fat cells in a way that resembles growth spurts in children.

“You're better off using the extra time to rest, allowing your body to build muscles,” Darden added.

“It's very intense — you feel the workout right away and are sore for 4-5 days after,” said Sarah Peebles, who did the muscle-building program to strengthen her upper body after having a few ribs removed when she was being treated for cancer.

“I've regained muscle and have less pain in my chest wall,” Peebles explained, adding that she is also in better shape overall.

“Before X-Force, I never realized you could stay in shape with just one workout a week.”

Even athletes have taken to the machines. Val Brown, a former football player for the Gators, said the machines work his muscles more efficiently than his old-school workouts. “Before I would have spent two-and-a-half hours in the weight room. Now I'm maximizing my muscle fatigue.”

“I haven't felt like this since I was playing,” Brown said.

Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or kristine.crane@gvillesun.com.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top