I have too low a lung capacity to be good at running, I can’t do a pull-up, and a few weeks ago, I cried on a mile-and-a-half-long hike because it was hot out and I didn’t realize there would be so much of an incline. But I do have visible abs, and I’m intent on keeping them.
I’m not exactly sure where my abs came from, though my best guess is that I’ve somehow maintained the core strength I developed from doing planks in dance classes when I was a pre-teen. At any given time, I can still hold a true plank (that is, not on my knees) for 90 seconds with pretty good form. For me, the hardest part about planking isn’t the pain or intensity — it’s getting my mind to focus on something other than said pain and intensity long enough to keep the plank. Music and TV help, but it’d be way easier if I could play a video game while I planked.
Welp, say hello to the Stealth core trainer.
The Stealth core trainer is just a triangle-ish shaped board that sits atop a ball axis mount, which allows the board to be moved 360 degrees, tilted at any angle. The idea is that the user places their forearms atop the board and gets into a plank position. In order to stay upright, the user has to put in more effort to maintain balance. That’s only half of it, though: The Stealth trainer also has an app with games meant to be played while planking. But instead of controlling the game with your hands, you control it by moving the board around while planking.
Yes, it’s really fucking hard.
The app comes with two free games, Galaxy Adventure and Speed Gliding. In the former, you’re guiding a laser weapon and blowing up planets with your abs. In the latter, you’re hang gliding. Turns out I’m a natural at space combat, but I need to make sure my last will and testament is in order if I ever decide to go hang gliding. The app has 10 other “premium” games, like mini-golf and a Pac-Man-style game, but the premium package costs an additional $25 per year, which I wasn’t interested in paying considering the board itself is around $100 (plus, I enjoyed the two free games well enough).
The app also tracks your progress, offers challenges against other players and maintains a leaderboard. Apparently, a 61-year-old man named Jim holds the high score for lasting an hour and ten minutes on the Stealth. My personal record is two minutes, and I have completed an average of four minutes of planking a day since using it. Considering that the Stealth is harder than the average plank, I feel pretty good about that.
On the Stealth website, there’s tons of the usual “as seen on TV” style before and after photos of customers who have used the product. They offer various three-minutes-a-day planking workout plans, and claim that the Stealth trainer has been tested as the “#1 most effective ab trainer.”
Maybe all of that is true and useful — I’m usually skeptical of these types of gimmick-y workout devices, and I’d have to actually try it for weeks at a time, as they recommend, to know for sure. But the Stealth trainer does win in one key category: It’s really fun. And because it’s fun, I’ll use it more often and longer than I would a regular plank. A minute of planking on the Stealth trainer goes by much faster than a minute of planking on the floor. Quite honestly, that alone makes it worth it.
The fact that it doesn’t involve running or crying helps, too.