Back to health

The Prague Post

Newly opened facility in Prague 1 puts focus on strength training

You sit at the computer all day, hunched over. You’re mildly active — does running to catch the tram count? Your neck is stiff and your lower back aches.

Sound familiar? You may need some strength training.

“Strength training is good for everyone,” says Jana Sikorová, a therapist for Kieser Training, which recently opened its first center in the Czech Republic. “It’s for people who want to take care of their bodies and their health.”

Kieser Training is a unique facility focusing on healing back problems and the prevention of new ones through strength training. Founded in Switzerland in 1981, Kieser Training has more than 140 facilities throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The program was designed by Werner Kieser, a former boxer who turned to strength training in the hope of relieving himself from his joint problems and painful boxing injuries.

The company’s Prague facility has six therapists, all with either physical education or medical backgrounds and who have been specially trained by Kieser.

The large space is quite stark if you are expecting a gym-type atmosphere. Sikorová says that’s how all Kieser facilities are designed.

“There’s no music here. It’s not a social situation,” she says. “The concept is to concentrate on training. That’s why you are here.”

New clients first meet with the onsite doctor, Vlasta Syslová.

“More people are here for preventive training than therapeutic training, but even that can help with minor problems,” Syslová says. “The client visits with me first so if they have a serious problem we can discuss it, and I can advise them on what they can or can’t do.”

Your first three sessions at Kieser are done with a therapist. Sikorová says the different principles of strength training are explained — why the program is designed as it is and how to properly use the machines to not only get the maximum benefit from them, but also to prevent injury. Each client has a specialized card designed for them that dictates which machines they should use and the settings for each machine in order to strengthen the muscle, and increase the range of motion. (In other words, how far your muscle can move.)

“We stress balance in the program. If you work the front of your thighs, you are going to work the backs too,” Sikorová says. “You will also build up strength at the beginning and end of your range of motion.”

For those with back or neck problems, like chronic back pain or problems resulting from an injury or surgery, Kieser has a therapeutic program in place. Sikorová says they have special machines that isolate certain muscles even more than their normal machines and really focus on getting to the deep muscle layer. These machines are connected to a computer that charts and records your progress.

The facility has more than 40 machines, each with a drawing of the muscle to be worked, as well as the starting and ending position of the exercise.

“We have different machines for different people and their needs,” Sikorová explains. “The machines are very focused on specific muscles, not muscle groups. Plus they are specially designed so the resistance of the machine changes as you go through the exercise.”

Syslová, Kieser’s onsite doctor, knows firsthand the results the machines offer.

“If I’m going to recommend it, I have to say to the clients, ‘It’s the best,’ and I know the effect of each machine on my body,” she says, adding that she sees differing results in people depending on their activity level prior to starting the program.

“For people who didn’t exercise regularly, after several treatments they start to feel better,” Syslová says. “For active people, it’s especially important if they do asymmetrical sports like golf or tennis, to get their muscles in balance. This type of training improves your muscles. You’ll have fewer injuries and be better prepared for other sports.”

Sikorová adds that while they recommend aerobic activity as well, the benefits of strength training cannot be overlooked.

“We specialize in back problems, but strength training helps in many health areas,” she says. “Overall, it helps you lose weight, look better, feel better and helps prevent diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases as well as osteoporosis.”