Keep fit with a cross trainer on wheels

Local woman is logging kilometres on an elliptical trainer

Pauline Johnson has been logging lots of low-impact kilometres on her newly-acquired Street Strider

Pauline Johnson has been logging lots of low-impact kilometres on her newly-acquired Street Strider

If you’ve seen a woman riding around Hope on an elliptical trainer, you may have done what I did last Thursday: stop and ask questions… and take a few photos.

“I’m getting lots of stares, absolutely,” said Pauline Johnson. “It’s that ‘What is that?’ kind of look.

“It certainly draws a crowd and then people want to try it out.”

Johnson has only had the unusual three-wheeled contraption, known as a Street Strider, for a couple of weeks — but her attraction to the device began a few years ago.

Johnson is one of the leaders of Hope’s “Team Fit” learn-to-run group and she was introduced to the Street Strider by Lynn Kanuka, a provincial learn-to-run coach who works for Sport Med BC.

“Lynn is a Street Strider dealer and she brought one to Hope when she came to one of our training sessions. I tried it out for a short time and I knew I definitely wanted one,” said Johnson.

“They’re about $2,000 new and $1,400 refurbished — but Lynn was moving and needed to downsize, so she put a notice on her Facebook page that she was looking to sell her demo models for $500.

“I got in touch with her almost immediately and I put my dibs in for the 8-speed model,” said Johnson. “All the others were 3-speeds.”

Even at $2,000, there’s a lot of engineering involved in this device. The wheels up front have cable-activated drums brakes and a complex steering mechanism, while the back wheel has a standard rim brake like on a bicycle. There’s also an 8-speed transmission tucked into the rear hub, with power from the pedals coming through a chain drive. Aluminum parts keep it relatively light, at about 45 pounds or 20 kilograms.

Johnson advises first-time users to apply the brakes before stepping onto the pedals.

Then the fun begins.

Until you get a feel for it, every stroke of the hand-levers causes the trike to turn in the direction you’re pushing. This can throw you off-balance, though the shifting of body weight is the secret to keeping a straight line or making a turn.

“It’s your core, keeping you stable,” said Johnson. “Your core is fully engaged as you ride.

“Within five minutes, I had the feel for it,” said Johnson. “I’ve been out on it every day except one, since I got it. I’ve been out to Kawkawa Lake and over Richmond Hill to Silver Creek.

“I made it up Richmond Hill in third gear. I gear it to get a good workout,” she said.

“If I stand near the back of the pedals, I feel it more in the legs. Standing further up front, I feel it more in the arms.

“I’m using it for cross-training for my first marathon in Victoria on the Thanksgiving weekend,” added Johnson. “The Street Rider takes away the impact of running — and I haven’t experienced soreness in my legs. There was some soreness down my spine, probably from using muscles I don’t normally use.

“I like the standing position, compared to sitting on a bike, which gives me a sore neck from looking up,” said Johnson. “It’s definitely not as fast as a bike — but I can get up to a good speed.

“I haven’t been in eighth gear yet!”