Here’s How Activ5 Helped Me Exercise Again

Photo by Romina Farías on Unsplash

Running. My knee hurts.

Lifting. My back hurts.

Pulling. My shoulder hurts.

Two years after stopping high intensity exercises and weightlifting, my body aches more than ever. With the pandemic, “going to the gym” has become obsolete and I relied on the equipment that I have at home. My stationary bike, my body and dumbbells. Oh and don’t forget my phone that is equipped with a multitude of workout videos led by superstar instructors that can be turned on by a touch of my finger.

But here’s the thing … the day after I do a 15–20 min HIIT exercise, my neck is stiff, my left knee hurts and suddenly using the mouse feels just a little more awkward by the minute.

All I could do was sit and meditate.

That was the only exercise that didn’t result to a visit to my acupuncturist because I couldn’t turn my head to talk to my wife while cooking. I don’t regret it though (not the cooking or the talking) because meditation is an exercise for the mind, which is a much more powerful muscle in my body, than my glutes.

But I sure would like to regain my mobility. My ability to use my muscles and my joints through the range of motion it was intended to. And most importantly, I’d like to continue to be able to express myself through functional movements. Oh I also was determined to get all that while sitting down. Could there be such a thing as exercise while sitting down?

Meet Activ5 — The fitness device that fits in your pocket pairs with your smartphone, and lets you build strength and flexibility with isometric exercises.

This is the one liner explanation of what it is from the ActivBody website.

Let me expand a little more based on my experience of using it for 3 months:

  • Activ5 is a pocket size tech that helps you contract and relax your muscles (the definition of isometric exercises). Your capacity to contract your muscles will contribute to muscle size (swole) and strength. All you need is the palm size activ5 and your phone. This is where the portability wins.
  • Activ5 can be used while holding static exercise poses, like plank, downward dog, half squats but also daily positions like sitting or standing. This is where the convenience wins.
  • Activ5 is activated when you squeeze it together. So the exercises that you will be doing with the Activ5 will involve you to squeeze it using your hands, knees, feet, elbows, a combination between all or against your seat. This is where the creativity wins.
  • Activ5 syncs with your phone where it graphically shows and tracks your hard work. We are all visual people. One of the reason why growing muscles is difficult for most people is because you can’t see it, you need to feel it. I’d say that Activ5 is the only (affordable) tool that can tell you how much power you are applying by contracting your muscles. All you have to do is squeeze it, and a line on your phone shows how much power you are producing … up or down. This is what differentiates this little tool vs others.

Here’s how Activ5 helped me regain my activity

I sit in front of the computer to earn my living. Yes I could also stand in front of the computer on my standing desk, but that’s neither here nor there. I also like to diversify my life. Meaning, work is important, but so is how I take care of myself, how well I spend time with my family and how long I interact with the natural environment around me. I am also a big believer of integrating my work and life as one mesh that fills my day.

Meaning, I want to be able to exercise while I work.

WFH (Work From Home) have allowed me to do this. Sure, I suppose I could do table pull ups in the offfice, but … well it may not be accepted as much as if I were to do it at home.

How I set myself up to routinely use Activ5:

  1. I started with the Activ5 app“startup” program called Activ5 Challenge, which consists of a 6 week program split into 3 sections: Morning, Day and Evening. Each time of day set has about 12–18 exercises. Each exercise takes about 15–30 seconds each. In total, each Morning / Day / Evening exercise will only take you 5 minutes if done efficiently. You’d be lying if you can’t spare 5 minutes for an exercise. Even if it’s only once a day

The result of this routine for the next 6 weeks was a more activated position during work. Whether I was sitting or standing, I could feel that my shoulders are pulled back (activated) and my core is tight. Which in general just meant that I was sore, but that tightness reminded me to stay in a good position.

Feeling my muscle activated also encouraged me to exercise more. For example, after doing Activ5 exercises in the morning, I feel encouraged to get on the stationary bike. After doing Activ5 exercises in the afternoon, I sense the urge of doing some squats / body weight exercises. I believe it is our responsibility to get ourselves into the flow of exercise. Just will power is not enough, you have to often set yourself up. And Activ5 is a good tool to do that.

But to me, the most important reward I have received from Activ5 is … the routine itself. The Activ5 Challenge that consists of 3x 5 minutes a day was a effective strategy to get me active again. I realized that exercise is a routine and I don’t have to start with 30 minutes a day when starting 5 minutes can lead to something good.

But not one exercise tool is perfect.

Unfortunately this is the truth. There is no one exercise movement, equipment, tool or even an innovative, portable and effective tool like Activ5 is perfect. It is how you use it and what you get out of it is why you paid $160 ish for it.

Activ5 is innovative, portable and it works. But, there are some exercises that are just a little too difficult to perform.

Yeah … I’m in my pajamas

This bicycle diagonal exercise that I was trying to do here was so dificult to hold, I got neck cramps the day after … almost every time. I also think that some yoga poses, like the downward dog while having the Activ5 placed just under one of my palms creates such instability that it was difficult to focus on the pose itself.

I also noticed that after the 3rd week of using Activ5, I got increasingly bored at doing the exercises while sitting down, standing up, or holding poses. From 3x a day it became 2x and eventually only a few days a week. I believe that our body is intended to move. To simply do static exercises limits us from moving from one shape to another. Activ5 is a good strip to take off, but just doing Activ5 would not be sustainable in my opinion.

For future upgrades to Activ5, I would suggest incorporating some actual functional movements into the program. After 6 weeks of doing the Activ5 Challenge, I can feel the rehab results of the isometric exercises and I was ready to move. I was ready to do some squats, if not good mornings, or even some push ups, even on the knees. I would suggest perhaps starting a new program where the app would lead users through some actual exercises / movements that can be done right after the isometric exercises. This way the users also gets to feel the benefits of an activated muscle after the isometric.

Would I recommend Activ5 to you?

Yes I would. This tool works for athletes of any type, or if you are just starting to work out. Everybody can benefit from slowing down their intensity to listen to their own body while staying static.

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Brian Pandji

Brian Pandji

Perfectionism has nothing to do with being perfect.

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