Lara Ray thought her training and racing days were over.
The 43-year-old marathoner, triathlete and soccer player injured her knee from playing soccer and her hip from running a half-marathon.
She is back in the saddle, so to speak, thank to a revolutionary anti-gravity treadmill known as Alter G.
“It’s non-weight bearing so it doesn’t aggravate my injuries,” said Ray, who is a California Highway Patrol officer based out of the Moorpark station.
Ray was “strapped into” the treadmill with an inflated air chamber around her lower body. The air pressure was lifting her off the treadmill as she put in over six miles that day.
Jeff Vargo, owner of in Moorpark, recently acquired the NASA-engineered treadmill to help his patients recover from injuries or surgery quickly and reduce the frequency of injuries.
“We’re the only one in Ventura County who has this treadmill,” said Vargo, a licensed physical therapist for the past 20 years. “It’s like running on air and being about 50 pounds lighter.”
Vargo, who owns nine physical therapy and rehabilitation clinics across Southern California, says he’s “always been on the lookout for the latest and greatest technology” in his field.
This latest gizmo did not come cheap. “It's about $40,000 but it's okay because we’re changing protocols in the industry,” he said.
Easy-to-use controls come with the built-in NASA technology. Vargo said, “The data is measurable – for example, we can specify the amount of effort we want a patient to put in, say 25 percent.”
By taking the guesswork out of the equation, patients reap the benefits. According to Vargo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady rehabilitated his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury on the Alter G.
NFL, NBA and Olympic athletes use it too to recover from sports injuries or just to take a break from intense cross-training.
To get the word out about the Alter G and its myriad benefits, Vargo works with orthopedic surgeons, pediatricians and other medical practitioners in the area.
The Alter G can be a stand-alone treatment option or not, said Vargo. “We do have other state-of-the-art equipment here that will work in conjunction with it,” he said. “It all depends on what the patient needs or what he or she is recovering from, if any.”
He also plans to get involved with local running clubs and high schools to alert them to the Alter G’s availability.
“I do plan on acquiring another one,” he said. “We always test and introduce the latest equipment here in Moorpark. It’s our unofficial pilot clinic because it’s right across from the high school and there’s a large number of fitness-conscious people here who could benefit from cutting edge technology.”