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November 29, 2012By L.C. Wise
A new fitness movement is on the loose and it's lurking in your backyard. The just-opened Syphus Training center, located at 20012 Nine Mile in St. Clair Shores, is a sweat shop in the best sense of the word, and the high-intensity training facility is generating word-of-mouth buzz in the Metro Detroit area and beyond.
Syphus Training is the brainchild of east-side native Mike Hackett, trainer and former manager of Pointe Fitness and Training Center in Harper Woods. At PFTC he created this new genre of fitness that combines body-weight exercises with competition, infusing it with a sport-like atmosphere for the fitness enthusiast.
"I don't claim it's the easiest route to getting fit," Hackett said. "But those who do Syphus Training take the most direct approach to getting in shape. There are no shortcuts. It is without doubt the most effective way to train."
The best thing about Syphus Training is that it's a program that works as well for professional athletes as it does for the new mom looking to get back into pre-pregnancy jeans.
Hackett, who spends summers training professional hockey players from the National Hockey League, developed Syphus for the everyday Jane or Joe looking to train in a fashion similar to professional athletes, but at an individual, comfortable pace.
Four characteristics separate Syphus Training from other exercise regimens.
The Field. When you walk into many gyms you find a room filled with dumbbell racks and rows of cardio machines. Not so with Syphus Training. Picture a miniature football field tucked within a store-front. His "field" is, in fact, the former playing surface turf of the Detroit Lions from the Pontiac Silverdome.
The effective area is about 70 feet long, 30 feet wide and is the setting for unique exercises identified as "tasks."
The Tasks. During Syphus Training, Hackett's pupils perform various exercises, but nothing like the traditional squat press and burpee combos.
"I was tired of doing the same thing again and again in the gym so I started to invent my own exercises. I found them to be more effective and engaging than anything I'd done before," Hackett said. "All our tasks are moving exercises — meaning you must move your body from one end of the room to the other to complete a task."
These tasks may be as simple as a side shuffle or carrying a weight from one end of the field to the other, but real challenges await, like the crawling (yes crawling!) exercises.
"We have tasks that require people to get on the ground and crawl forward, backward, side-ways," Hackett said. "It's an amazing sight to see people moving like animals in the name of fitness."
Hackett said Syphus encompasses more than 300 exercises, roughly half of which are movements he originated. "I certainly didn't invent the push up, but when you perform one while dragging a 45-pound plate, you have an entirely different exercise."
The Circuits. As if performing unique tasks weren't enough to pique your interest, the circuits – the program — complete the workout.
The walls that surround the Syphus Training field are sketched with hieroglyphs outlining the weekly routines. Traditionally, circuit training would have the athlete perform a set of exercises in succession; Hackett's creations demand varied patterns and progressions that test the body and the mind alike.
"We are always dreaming up different ways to 'keep your body guessing' what comes next," Hackett explained. "Our first circuit created was called a Mountain — with a simple (exercise) progression. Now we have elaborate sequences where some workouts even have story lines. I find it's a way to keep things interesting while differentiating our workouts."
The Statistics. Possibly the greatest differentiator of Syphus Training from other high-intensity training schemes is its scoring system.
Hackett derived something he calls a Relative Overall Quotient — a ROQ — that's a score from 1 to 1,000; think of it as the equivalent of your fitness credit score.
This ROQ factors time spent to complete a routine, the number of exercises completed, and the routine's overall difficulty.
"My hope in creating the ROQ was to provide tangible feedback to measure their training," Hackett said. "I've found as they focus on improving these numbers they dwell less on the scale. Similarly, this also creates healthy competition among the class members, and that's a great motivator."
Since Syphus Training is such a new concept, many people wrongfully assume it is like CrossFit or Insanity, each of which are also high-intensity workouts. That's not the case.
"What we do is completely original," Hackett said. "It's more than just a workout â€¦ and it is also something that can't fully be grasped without trying it. For that reason, we offer a free introductory class to give people a taste and an understanding of what we're accomplishing. From there, many are converts to this unique and entertaining method of training."