The doors to water workouts are rushing open because of the Zero Gravity Buoyancy Suit, which is quickly gaining popularity at Linfield and even catching the attention of the pros, such as 2007 first-round draft pick Greg Oden of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Designed by Gary Killgore, head coach of both the cross country and track and field teams, the ZGS has taken water exercise to another level.
The ZGS is a body suit made out of neoprene, a material similar to a regular wetsuit. The entire torso area, both front and back, is covered with closed-cell polyvinyl chloride, a spongy material made for floating. With the buoyancy distributed in such a large area, a person is not forced to float in an unnatural position that makes breathing difficult, which occurs with previous buoyant exercise devices such as the Aqua Jogger, a belt that only encircles the waist.
“The belts, 25 years ago when (they) first came out on the market, were great,” Killgore said. “That was a good first step, but it hasn’t been improved since then.”
Freshman Bri Reichelt, a guard for the women’s basketball team, has used both the ZGS and the Aqua Jogger belts. She said she preferred the suit. Head coach Robyn Stewart made them a requirement for the team’s water training.
“You could still get a lot of movement with the belt on, but it was harder to do certain things without drowning,” Reichelt joked.
During many sessions in the pool, Reichelt said the team had to do sit-ups in the water, a feat impossible to achieve while wearing the aqua belts.
The ZGS also allows a person to learn the correct techniques for running and a number of other land exercises as well, Killgore said. As a biomechanist and coach, technique is a high priority.
“If you do the technique correctly, one, you decrease the likelihood of injury, and then two, you also enhance the effect once you get back out to land again,” he said.
Exercising in water provides constant resistance and assistance, depending on what the wearer wants, Killgore said.
The ZGS is perfect for athletes to get back in shape after an injury because the suit keeps them suspended in the water, taking the weight off their joints and spinal columns. Even those with arthritis, obesity or osteoporosis can use the ZGS with ease.
“It gives people an opportunity to stay active, or in an athlete’s perspective to gain speed, to gain explosiveness, flexibility and so on,” he said.
The Blazers discovered the ZGS when they came to Linfield two years ago for training camp. Former Blazer Darnell Valentine tested the suit out after mentioning his knee injuries from previous years. The ZGS was a success for Valentine, and he informed his team after the camp.
When Oden underwent microfracture surgery in September, the Blazers’ trainer contacted Killgore and requested a suit, a pair of Killgore’s aquatic training shoes and a rehabilitation plan, all specially designed for the injured athlete to recuperate.
“Other sports are starting to understand and appreciate that this might be a medium that helps people get back from injuries faster, but then also—which is more important to me—they can decrease the chances of getting the injury to begin with,” Killgore said.
The ZGS is currently on the market and can be found at the AQX Sports Web site, www.aqxsports.com. It is available to the general public for $179.95, but all Linfield students get the discount price of $130.
To get the discount,
contact Killgore at