VERT fitness
Los Angeles Times

From The Los Angeles Times

VERT's 3 Machines Have You Covered

On a rating of one to four rats, four being best, here is how the Gym Rat rates VERT Private Training Center in Santa Monica:

Parking: Free parking is available on the side of the building. Otherwise, it's metered street parking. rating=FOUR RATS

Locker rooms: Very clean with all the amenities-cotton swabs, free razors and free samples of deodorant and liquid soap. No sauna, no spa. rating=FOUR RATS

Juice bar: None, but you can purchase water and protein drinks. rating=TWO RATS

VERT Private Training Center in Santa Monica is on the cutting edge of fitness technology because you work your entire body on only three pieces of equipment.

The three machines include one to work your legs, one for your chest and back and a third for squats, bent-over rows and the decline press. The leg machine, for example, works the front part of the leg, the quadriceps, as well as the back of the leg, the hamstring.

Each piece of equipment is hooked up to a computer that not only controls a hydraulic system but measures your strength throughout the range of motion. The computer can display your weaker areas graphically, allowing your trainer to reprogram the computer to work those areas.

This biofeedback system can sense how much force you're exerting at any given moment and then adjust the resistance, said Dr. Walter Theis, a former emergency room doctor and now medical advisor and co-owner of VERT, which stands for Velocity Enhanced Resistance Training, The resistance is adjusted as often as 16,000 times a second so your muscles are then required to exert a constant force throughout the range of motion.

The other secret is the speed at which you do the exercises: four sets of 15 repetitions, done as quickly as you can on each machine with only a 20-second break between sets. It's almost like an aerobic workout.
We're breaking a lot of rules, said Sean Harrington, the founder of VERT. Traditionally, muscle building is done slowly. Here, you work really fast. You're able to do much more work in a short period of time.

Harrington opened VERT three years ago and moved his business to its current Santa Monica Boulevard location in November. The club is frequented by an eclectic group of athletes-boxers, fencers, kick boxers, sprinters, football, basketball and hockey players-as well as regular gym rats. Among the athletes who have trained there are Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal and Lisa Leslie of the LA Sparks women's basketball team.

Workouts are by appointment only, and you must work out with a trainer. It isn't cheap: $150 per month under a one-year contract. For that, you get 12 training sessions per month.

You know, we're either the most expensive health club in Los Angeles or the least expensive private training, said Harrington, a former strength and conditioning coach for the Lakers and Los Angeles Kings.

Harrington has a point. In Los Angeles, the going rate for a personal trainer is up to $100 per session. So, 12 training sessions with a personal trainer would cost from $425 to $1,200-much more than VERT's.

By Gym Rat, Gary Metzker. Gary Metzker is a certified group exercise instructor who has been teaching seven years at various clubs.

VERT Fitness