I have to start this review by expressing how excited I am that I can now do strict muscle ups! I watched all of Dusty Hyland’s series on muscle ups, and I was getting close (Dusty makes it look easy.) With the Ring Thing, a training tool for gymnastics movements, I was able to cement my muscle up skills.
The Ring Thing uses a pulley system that basically takes away half of the person’s weight. It is a great learning tool to help you "grease the groove." As Pavel Tsatsouline has repeatedly mentioned in describing his grease- the-groove technique, the best way to get good at something is to do it over and over again. The Ring Thing allowed me to do this with my muscle ups. I worked on sets of ten muscle ups and I saw great improvement in my transition from pull up to dip.
This tool works best for strict gymnastics movements. It would be difficult to learn a kipping style muscle up because the waist belt blunts a violent hip movement. However, all of the skills involved in a strict muscle up should also be helpful in learning a kipping muscle up.
Actually, everyone who tried out this device walked away with a big smile on his or her face saying that he or she loved it. There is something about gymnastics that makes you feel like a kid – or at least, that's how I felt as I tumbled upside down and around trying to do handstand push ups. People who are new to training will probably be less intimidated by the rings with the extra support.
To use the Ring Thing, you will need a pull up bar or ceiling with hooks at least 9.5ft high (it can be hung up to fifteen feet). I set it up on an eight-foot bar and could use it for most exercises, but I would bang my feet on the bar above when doing inverted exercises. The belt was able to accommodate everyone who attempted to use it, from very skinny-waisted individuals to those who were a bit thicker. Someone who has larger than a 42-inch waist might have a bit more trouble.
The price is a bit expensive for an individual, but a gym might find a good amount of use out of such a product. In my dream gym (which I will build after I receive unlimited funding), I would use these for assisted pull ups, rather than using bands. The pulleys provide a consistent amount of assistance, regardless of body positioning.
Relative to other gymnastics training tools, the Ring Thing is well priced, although I suppose a savvy do-it-yourselfer could create a similar homemade apparatus with rock climbing gear. The quality of the product is quite good and everyone who used it at my gym seemed quite secure in the support equipment. I (and many other people) only used it for a week, but there were no signs of wear and tear.
The one big thing I noticed after a few days of use was the burn marks on my arms and chest from the support ropes. On regular gymnastics rings this problem also occurs to some extent. The rope attaches to the ring in both apparatuses, but on regular rings there is no additional rope that attaches to the belt. It would be difficult to design a product that would not have this problem, though, as the supports need to be right next to the body.
The Ring Thing is available for $320.00 at Power Monkey Fitness.