A Brief History of AlterG’s NASA Technology – The Early Years


First there was space…

This is how to run in space.

This is how you run in space.

In the 1960s, NASA started sending astronauts into space. At first, people spent only a short period of time outside the earth’s gravitational pull.

However, after the International Space Station was introduced, astronauts started extending their stay. The zero gravity environment began causing weight loss, muscle atrophy, and decreased bone density.   NASA was learning that exercising is hard when you can’t keep your feet on the ground!

To solve this problem, Dr. Robert Whalen, a NASA engineer, was tasked with developing a way for astronauts to exercise in space. He came up with a few options for NASA to consider, including a concept with a pressurized bubble that held astronauts down on a treadmill using air-pressure.

Just flip the pump!

All great ideas start in a garage!

While NASA decided to pursue one of Robert’s other ideas, his son Sean took a liking to his father’s concept of an air-pressure controlled treadmill. However, instead of adding gravity to run in space, he wanted to defy gravity to run on earth. By simply flipping the air pump, Sean created the concept for the Anti-Gravity Treadmill. While his father’s treadmill pulled the user onto the treadmill with a pressure-vacuum, Sean’s idea used air pressure to gently life the user off of the treadmill!

Sean and his father decided to make this idea a reality and went to work in their family’s garage in Palo Alto to develop the technology for what would become the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill. After many months of trial and error, Sean created the first working prototype in 2005.

Time to bring in the professionals

Alberto Salazar was the first to adopt AlterG technology with his Olympic athletes

Alberto Salazar was the first to adopt AlterG technology with his Olympic athletes

Before the first prototype was even finished, Alberto Salazar (an Olympic runner and coach of the best runners in the world) heard about the technology and wanted to help develop it for his athletes to use. He saw the ability to unweight a runner and reduce the impact of training as an invaluable tool for any competitive long distance runner.

Alberto Salazar began using the prototype with his athletes, including 10,000m Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp (see picture). After Salazar and his athletes got on board, local Bay Area teams like the Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors started using the prototype in their training rooms.

AlterG becomes AlterG

In 2007, AlterG sold its first commercial unit to the Washington Wizards. Soon after, other NBA, NFL, and universities started defying gravity, too.

While today’s Anti-Gravity Treadmills look different than the prototype, the concept behind the magic remains the same. By creating a pressurized lifting force around the lower half of the body, the “differential air pressure” can be controlled to produced a variable lifting force for someone to walk, run, and exercise with reduced and adjustable impact.

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AlterG Defending Title at the 2015 Penn Relays Corporate Distance Medley Relay


Under the Lights of Historic Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania

Members of the 2014 championship team celebrate their victory with the Penn Relays Wheel

Members of the 2014 championship team celebrate their victory with the Penn Relays Wheel

This Friday night, at the University of Pennsylvania, four AlterG employees will take the track to defend our title as the two-time Corporate Distance Medley Relay Champions.  The Penn Relays, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, is the largest and oldest track & field competition in the US.  Professional, collegiate, and high-school runners compete in a variety of relay races over four days, and attendance can top 50,000 people!

Companies across the US also get to display their athletic prowess by competing in the Corporate Distance Medley Relay.  The event consists of four legs: 1200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m, and all corporate teams must have one woman and one person over the age of 40.

Going for a three-peat!

Up against corporate giants like General Electric and Lockheed Martin, AlterG first made a splash in this event in 2013 by taking down the defending champion.  In 2014, with some new members on the team, AlterG improved their time and repeated their victory with a time of 11:00.50.

On Friday April 23, four AlterG employees, Jesus Romo, Bea Tran, Barry Heyden, and Michael Coe, will attempt to win for the third year in a row.

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Testimonial from Marc Boff | Director of Sports Medicine | NBC’s The Biggest Loser

Marc Boff, Director of Sports Medicine for NBC's The Biggest Loser, instructions contestant during calibration.

Marc Boff, Director of Sports Medicine for NBC’s The Biggest Loser, instructs contestant during calibration.

Marc Boff, Director of Sports Medicine for NBC’s The Biggest Loser, uses the AlterG Anti-­Gravity Treadmill to help contestants train through injuries and achieve their weight loss goals.

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“We are extremely fortunate to have the AlterG Anti-­Gravity Treadmill in our Sports Medicine department on set at The Biggest Loser. With its precise ability to control and manipulate weight-­bearing forces, it has become one of the most utilized modalities for not only its therapeutic benefits but also for its continued weight loss results. Read More »

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Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears: Surgery or Not To Surgery, That Is The Question


A new study published late last month in the New England Journal of Medicine discussed whether or not surgery was the best option for an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear. Most of the articles that I have read on this new study have made the recent results a bigger issue than it really is. For physical therapists and physicians, the option to avoid surgery has always been available to patients, depending on the individual’s goals and the physician’s recommendations. Read More »

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Using the AlterG to Conquer the NYC Marathon

This is a wonderful and inspiring story that we received from Amber Fatone, an avid runner who uses the AlterG at Finish Line PT in New York. Read More »

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Hip Injuries and Your Rehabilitation Options

Hip injuries are among the most common causes of reduced mobility and disability in adults older than 60. Rehabilitation after hip injury can greatly reduce the chances of becoming disabled. Treatment that includes extensive physical therapy has been shown to enhance recovery results after hip injury, improving mobility, strength, range of motion, balance and endurance — all critical factors in the ability to resume an active lifestyle. Read More »

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Road to the Olympics: Interview with Shannon Rowbury

With the 2012 London Olympics right around the corner, AlterG is buzzing with excitement. Which AlterG athletes will make the team? Who will take home the gold? Who is using the AlterG to train?

One Olympic hopeful, Shannon Rowbury, has been using the AlterG for years. In between her extensive training regimen we were able to speak with Shannon and dig deeper about her use of the AlterG. Read More »

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Overweight? Let AlterG help you to your new body.

You’ve been thinking about a weight loss program for a long time now, and maybe you’ve even tried a number of things.  New diets, exercise regimens, possibly hypnosis, and maybe you’ve even considered surgery.  Those things are all fine, but have you considered using the AlterG to help you achieve your weight loss goals?

By using Differential Air Pressure Technology, the AlterG allows overweight individuals to feel what it would be like to be at their desired weight, providing motivation to stay disciplined and achieve their weight loss goals. Reducing body weight and pressure on their joints, also allows patients to exercise safely and effectively without hip, knee, ankle, or foot pain. Read More »

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The New Anterior Approach Hip Replacement Procedure

My mother-in-law recently underwent the new “minimally invasive anterior approach” hip replacement surgery. That’s a mouthful, but it is turning out to be the least painful and quickest recovery when it comes to hip replacement surgery! I was amazed at her speedy recovery and how good she felt after her hip replacement. Knowing others that have gone with the traditional posterior approach, I watched the agonizing and slow rehabilitation process that is so commonplace and the associated healing time in the 6 month range. With the anterior approach, we are talking about possibly walking and going back to your pre-surgery workout routine in 6 weeks. Amazing! Read More »

Posted in Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation | 2 Comments

Ideas for Keeping the Weight Off During the Holidays

Before beginning any exercise or dietary program, please talk to your health care professional.

The holiday season is upon us and soon the pounds will be too. Holiday dinners and treats change the way we eat. The added tasks needed to get through this festive time of year, change our daily habits as well. Instead of visiting the gym or taking a walk, we spend our precious extra time doing the holiday hustle and bustle. Read More »

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