A New Product To Get Hooked On
A few years ago you may (or more likely, may not) recall that I wrote a blog entry about how Active Hands was branching out and had begun selling certain disability products designed by others alongside their own gripping aids. I focussed specifically on the Ungrip, a material loop that fits onto the back of any phone, allowing you to slide a finger into it and ensure it spends more time in your hand and less time on the floor with a giant crack across the screen! Since then, plenty more new and unique items have been added to the website, a detailed list of which can be found here.
However, it's not just the Products by Others section that's been growing, no sir! Far from resting on their laurels, content with the creations they've already concocted, the Active Hands elves have been hard at work crafting some brand new, ingeniously innovative aids designed to help anyone with limited hand or finger function 'get a grip' (three words I hear on a near daily basis)! A couple of years ago they launched the Limb Difference Aid, specifically designed for those with missing fingers and/or hand parts. Fast forward to present day, and the first half of this year alone has seen the release of not one, but two brand new gripping aids; in the form of the Small Item Gripping Aid and the Hook Aids. Having already written an article for the Active Hands website on the former (which can be found here, complete with video montage of yours truly), I decided that I should now focus my attention on the latter.
So without further ado, here is my review of the Active Hands Hook Aids and how you can incorporate them into your workout, whether at the gym or at home:
What Are Hook Aids?
Hook Aids are a new type of Active Hands gripping aid, specifically designed for easy hooking onto and off of various gym apparatus and exercise equipment. They are ideal for use in any activities that involve close-ended bars, and are great for the likes of: pull-ups, rowing machines, lat pull-down machines and certain handbikes.
How Do They Work?
Similarly to the General Purpose gripping aid, once you slip each hand into a Hook Aid, the neoprene material is securely fastened round your wrist using a Velcro strap. You then slip the elastic loop over a finger (usually the middle one), pinning the stainless steel hook to your palm and stopping it from flopping forwards onto your wrist. You then have complete control to hook onto and "grip" whatever exercise equipment you so wish. And once you are done, simply lift your hands/hooks off the equipment, undo the Velcro and remove the aids.
In reality though, anyone can spout some jargon about a product and what its supposed benefits are. But the products sold by Active Hands are specifically designed for people with limited hand and finger function. Therefore the most logical way of reviewing a product of theirs is by sharing my own personal experience of using it as a tetraplegic...
My Hook Aids Experience
I will admit to being both excited and a little sceptical when I first read about the Hook Aids. I had given up my gym membership towards the end of last year due to there not being enough equipment I could easily access to justify the monthly fee, and had instead purchased an ex-gym handbike. This, when coupled with my dumb-bells, gave me just as good a workout as I had been getting at the gym, but I was always on the lookout for more exercises to add. The slight scepticism I felt was all down to my niggling doubts as to whether my C6 quad arms would be able to 'pull up' any part of my C6 quad bod! But I chose to remain positive, and once I knew the Hook Aids were on their way, I popped online and ordered an inexpensive pull-up bar (just under £15). This bar was designed to be attached to either side of a doorframe and, when used in conjunction with the Hook Aids, should allow me to do pull-up exercises from home. (A quick word of advice if purchasing a doorframe pull-up bar: Make sure it's a removable one; unless of course you want the added comic value of anyone over 5 feet tall getting clotheslined whenever they walk nonchalantly into the room! Mine slots fairly easily in and out of two brackets that had to be screwed onto the frame, and it's possible they are all designed like this. But just in case they're not, you have been warned!)
|Twist the bar one way to lengthen & attach, then the other way to shorten & detach.|
Another thing I will stress is the importance of reading the instructional leaflet that comes with the Hook Aids themselves, as this explains how to adjust the position of the hooks and how to either trim or stab a hole in the neoprene at the desired spot so that the elastic loop can comfortably go over your finger. It's important to take your time with this and it may be worthwhile seeking out a handy helper monkey to do the aforementioned trimming/stabbing, as the neoprene cannot be untrimmed/unstabbed. A friend of mine (definitely not me) thought he (or she, could've been anyone) was above reading instructions, and instead spent a truly embarrassing amount of time squinting at the neoprene whilst trying to push the elastic loop through a non-existent hole. What a buffoon that person must've felt eh (a person that, I cannot stress enough, definitely 100% was not me)!
Anyway, once the aids were set up, I parked myself under the pull-up bar, fastened the Hook Aids firmly round my wrists, hooked them snugly over the bar, took a deep breath, and heaved upwards...
|A proud moment as I perform my very first quiff-up!|
Success! I actually managed to haul my butt off the seat and do a bloody pull-up (my first in over 14 years)! Feeling an exhilirating swell of confidence, I decided to do a few more, and quickly discovered the rather shameful limits to my stamina levels! Happy with my initial test run, I lifted my hands up and the hooks instantly detached from the bar. Realising how simple an exercise this was for me to do, I returned to it the next day, and the day after, and the day after that; my stamina levels gradually increasing. It turns out my scepticism had been unwarranted, as these aids genuinely do give a person with limited arm and finger function the ability to do pull-ups, pull-downs, and any other related exercises you have the equipment for. (Full disclosure: After seeing videos of it online, I did strap myself to my chair and attempt a MEGA PULL-UP; however, trying to lift what is essentially a 57kg dead weight strapped to another 13kg dead weight using just my arms, proved a bridge waaaay too far, so for now I shall remain content with my modest butt lift pull-up!)
To Buy or Not To Buy...
But would I recommend getting this product even if you already have other Active Hands aids? Honestly, this was something I'd asked myself before the Hook Aids arrived, as I was unsure what they would offer that I couldn't get from, say the General Purpose gripping aids. However, after having tried them out for the past month, I can confidently state that these are a totally unique and very worthy addition to any gym user's or fitness enthusiast's Active Hands arsenal. To start with, I would have to stress the ease of use and independence that the Hook Aids offer. I love my General Purpose gripping aids and I use them for countless activities around the house and in the garden, as well as for the obvious fitness purposes. I'll admit though, it can be a little tricky to independently attach a left glove and a right glove at the same time. So, for example, when I lift dumb-bells, I do a set with my left hand, followed by a set with my right, as opposed to doing both arms together. However, I can effortlessly attach and use both Hook Aids independently, and the elastic finger loops ensure I am able to hook onto, and afterwards unhook from, the pull-up bar with ease.
I was very pleasantly surprised with these Hook Aids; they've opened the door to another great exercise I can do from home, an exercise that requires far less time and preparation than say, a stint on the handbike or a set of dumb-bell lifts. And if you're a gym member or have access to, for example, a rowing machine or lat pull-down machine, then there are even more options open to you. They can be found now by searching on the Active Hands website or by simply clicking the link HERE.
I shall leave you with video footage of the moment I donned the Hook Aids for the first time and heaved myself to the heavens...or at least a few inches in that direction!