Ashley Graham & Gabrielle Union's Vertical Climber Workout Looks Intense, But It's Still Doable
Whenever one of my favorite celebrities posts a workout on Instagram, I'm first in line to be like, "Wow, I need to try that." So when two of the coolest women I can think of both uploaded videos of themselves doing the same exact exercise, I was instantly sold. Ashley Graham and Gabrielle Union's vertical climber workout is so full of energy that it's sure to inspire you to get moving even on the laziest of days. While there's no evidence to suggest that the two stars did this workout together, they both do appear to be using the machines at Heart & Hustle, a gym in Los Angeles, so it's totally possible that their paths might have crossed in what would be one of the most epic friendships ever, IMO.
Earlier this week, Union and Graham posted separate videos of themselves on their Instagram Stories, using what appeared to be the exact same workout machine. In case you're curious, the machine that the two women were using is called a vertical climbing machine (often in gyms under the brand VersaClimber), says Evan Renfroe, a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist. The machine is typically used for cardio, he explains, and mimics the movements that you might do while — you guessed it — rock climbing. “The VersaClimber is a great piece of cardiovascular equipment that works the upper extremity as well as the lower extremity,” celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, director of strength and endurance training for the Los Angeles Lakers, told Health. “It can be used as a warm-up, a steady state cardio tool, or for HIIT training.”
If your gym doesn't have this piece of equipment, or if you simply prefer to work out at home, don't sweat it — you can target many of the same muscle groups through other kinds of exercises. For a similar lower-body workout without the actual machine, try climbing multiple flights of stairs in your apartment building, or even your office, suggests Vince Sant, co-founder and lead trainer at V Shred, an online training platform. To make the exercise even more challenging, he tells Elite Daily, try climbing two steps at a time and you'll be sure to feel the glute burn almost instantly.
Taking a rock climbing class is also a great way to mimic this machine's movement outside of a traditional gym, says Renfroe. If you really want a challenge, try your hand (literally) at bouldering, aka the kind of rock climbing that doesn't involve ropes, and instead requires you to try and scale the wall using your muscles alone.
For anyone who's looking to replicate Graham and Union's workout without even leaving the apartment, standing mountain climbers could be a good way to go. Ali Wells, V Shred lead trainer, certified nutrition coach, and certified personal trainer, recommends this exercise for any time you want to get your heart pumping and strengthen your whole body, without disturbing your roommate or your neighbors. Plus, the high intensity of this exercise helps you build muscle, so it's a win-win all-around.
In another Instagram Story from earlier this week, Graham posted a clip of herself doing a second exercise that targets the lower-body muscles, and TBH, I'm beginning to think that this woman must have the world's strongest quads. "Graham is using a functional eccentric trainer, a machine that helps improve strength through balance work," Sassy Gregson-Williams, certified personal trainer, ballerina, and founder of Naturally Sassy, an online workout studio/app, tells Elite Daily. "She is standing on a moving platform, and performing a squat while the machine moves in wave-like motions, testing her strength and stability."
"Graham is holding a squat, so she’s doing an isometric muscle contraction," adds Autumn Calabrese, a celebrity fitness trainer and nutritionist. "Isometric training trains the muscle to generate force without changing the length of the muscle. It’s time under tension and can help build strength and endurance," she tells Elite Daily in an email. "Because the machine is moving under Ashley, she’s also working the eccentric muscle contraction." The "eccentric" part of the movement, she says, is what helps you keep control and slow down your body, similar to changing direction during a tennis match.
For a similar effect at home, try standing on an unstable platform like a foam block, or a BOSU half ball, suggests Gregson-Williams. "You could form the squat, straighten the legs, and go back down into the squat, or lift the heels up and down." While she says this won’t replicate the exact same movement that you see Graham doing on Instagram, it'll still help you work on balance, stability, and target similar muscles.