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"Elevator broken. Please take the Stairs"

Written By ady setiawan on Selasa, 02 Maret 2010 | 02.37

If there's one person I know who NEVER takes the elevator when he stays in a hotel, it's my friend Virgil.

Like I keep telling you, taking the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator to arrive can help you burn extra calories during the day, but this guy takes 'stair climbing' to a whole new level!

Usually the 20th floor and back!

Virgil is into 'stair-training' - Using plain old flights of stairs to stay super fit and lean. Virgil is a former WNBA Coach, so we're not just talking walking up and down to feel our hearts beating a little faster, although that might be the answer to start with. No, we're talking sprints, jumps and hops, with the occasional break in-between for some push ups or ab work.

It's hard work, but the results you can achieve are well worth it. It's cheap, the idea is simple, and by god it works for fat loss and super boosted fitness!

So, I asked Virgil to tell us a bit more about what he does on the stairs...

Hi Virgil, how do you prepare for a stairs workout?

The simple answer is there really is no prep work, except finding stairs and getting busy. I usually have access to 20 flights so I start with a walk to the 20th floor as a warm-up! Once I hit the top I'll stretch my lower body and then take the elevator down and start round 2. Round 2 might be going up every other step. Round 3 can be hops and then round 4 I'll run. It changes depending on what I want to accomplish.

And do you ever workout with other people on the stairs?

Yes, you just have to make sure you stay organized! I've done stair workouts with groups as big as 25! We just use simple rules like going up on the right side and coming down on the left. We also make sure people have enough space by waiting for the person in front of them to reach the top of the flight before it's the next person's turn to go.

Do you need a certain number of steps to get a good workout?

I train in a 20 storey building with 14 steps per flight and at Grand Street Campus HS with 10 steps per flight. So I would say you don't need a specific number of flights, but I would also say the more the better, because there is more of a rhythm to your workout.

The 20 storey building is my favorite because you have so many stairs, but I also make do with 8 flights of stairs, like we have at Grand Street Campus, where I train groups of 10-25 people! :-)


In all your years using stairs, have you ever had any near misses with other people on the stairs while you workout?

In 12 years I've only had 1 person (a football player) trip while using the stairs and it was nothing serious. I think people are just a little more careful when they use stairs because they know they can bust their 'you know what' if they fall. I've also never had anyone bump into each other because I keep things very organized (It's the PE/Drill Sergeant in me!). :-)

Have you got any funny stories you can share with us?

I do have one funny story of when I was the strength coach for the New York Liberty. I was asked by coach Jeff House to amp up the road workouts. My immediate suggestion was stairs because they rock and because we didn't have to worry about getting to a gym.

One player named Bernadette from South Africa really hated stairs. Since she was a bench player she had to do extra stairs. But the funny thing is she made me do them with her and curse me out while we did them. What was even funnier is that she would curse me out in her native language. LOL! I remember actually being afraid of her because she was 6'2, 210 pounds and her translator said I didn't want to know what she was saying!


So, for someone really unfit, what advice would you give them for starting a stairs workout?

I would suggest that they just walk up stairs as this will be more than enough for someone who is unfit. One example is a women I trained who was 54 years old, 50 pounds overweight, smoked and had not done any exercise in 10 years.

After 1 flight of stairs she felt winded. So what did we do? We kept it easy and only did 5 flights in total for her stairs workout. I simply had her rest 1-2 minutes in between each flight. Always err on the side of caution and take your time. Your fitness will improve but you have to progress little by little.


And finally, do you ever use any fun games or challenges in your stair workouts?

Yes! Races are super fun when it comes to stairs! We use both sides and the first person to the top wins. It could be running, hopping, buddy carries, 1 flight then push-ups. You name it, people love a race!

Buddy carries are also favorite of my athletes and fitness campers. You simply carry who weighs less than you (20-30 pounds less) up the stairs. If there is one exercise that covers everything it's the buddy carry. I call it the greatest stair exercise of all time!


Now, while I don't suggest you carry your work colleagues up the stairs with you instead of using the lift, using the stairs to add another challenge to your fitness routine is definitely something I would recommend.

As Virgil says, you can start with walking, then next time, step every other step or jog a flight then walk a flight.
The fitter you are, the more you can do, and the more variety you can add to your workout.

Virgil's 'Ultimate Stair Exercises' program is the perfect companion to the 'Fit Business Trip' System, allowing you to stay fit and in shape on the road, without a gym or any equipment.

Look out for my review of Virgil's great product in my next post.


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