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“A piece of cake until those tummy muscles start to protest”

“A piece of cake until those tummy muscles start to protest”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts/ Illustratie Janneke Swinkels

Omnia: seven days a week

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: Omnia.

The beginner: Moving two ropes up and down, bending your knees a couple of times with a strangely shaped ball, some push-ups, dragging a heavy bag and balancing while lying down on two inflated pancakes. I mean, how tired can you get exercising in less than twenty minutes including short breaks? Well, really tired when it comes to Omnia, a fitness training session under supervision of an instructor around a group training rack that can fit eight people working simultaneously. And really, really tired when the instructor's name is Wilko Gietel, movement scientist by profession and full-time co-ordinator of the fitness department that includes a total of seventeen instructors. Today it's not 45 seconds for each exercise, but a whole minute and a short warming-up to boot. “We are halfway,” Gietel shouts when the push-and-pull bag is almost unmanageable and the battle ropes (large cables) stare back at the athlete unwieldy. Time for a sip of water and on to the next obstacle: a pole secured to the omnia device that has a ball, which you need to roll across the floor while kneeling and with your hands on the pole - stretching your upper body further and further. A piece of cake until your tummy muscles start to protest. After two times eight stations, when the end signal releases us, Gietel has a “little extra. One more minute, you can choose which exercise you want to do”. The choice falls on the heavy, weirdly shaped ball (resembling Siamese twins) that you press against your chin while carefully bending your knees. Oof. Most of the muscle pain has disappeared after three days. Time for the next training.

The expert: “Omnia is like a kind of playground, a sweet shop where you train your whole body in a short period of time,” says Wilko Gietel. Fitness instructors set the training up the way they prefer. That is why there is such variety in the exercises that “often mimic movements from daily life: pushing, pulling, bending knees”. Chances of injuries are not great because everything is carried out in a controlled manner. “The instructor always asks if there are any injuries and quickly estimates your level. Adaptations to an exercise are easily made.” A favourite of Gietel is the koala: “We hang the push-and-pull bag on the rack. The participants then have to hang on to it with their hands and feet. Very useful in the Netherlands. That way you always have dry feet if the water rises.”

Target group: For everyone who wants to train their whole body for half an hour in a small group with an instructor. You don't need to sign up, you can always participate. Sessions are held regardless of the number of participants. If you come regularly, you will be given a nickname, like the student called Tom, who now goes by the name of Tomnia.

The facts: Omnia is several times a day, seven days a week. During weekends at 11:30, 16:30 and 18:30hrs. On workdays, five to six times a day. Always at 7:30, 12:00, 17:00, 18:30 and 19:30hrs.

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