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Using a stick for training is widely popular in Finland and is regularly used in gyms, for sports training and by rehabilitation specialists and physiotherapists. The stick is most often used for warming up, increasing range of movement and to facilitate with stretching. In fact, it is common to see stick training classes in fitness clubs around Finland. Older adults often use the stick to improve joint mobility and the stick is also used to develop technique for movements like squats, lunges and Olympic lifts.
From 1995 – 2000, Risto used the stick extensively to train for track and field sports and ice hockey and was using it to teach squats, lunges and Olympic lifts to young athletes.
During this time, Risto decided to share his knowledge of ‘Stick Training’ and wrote a book, that went on to be a successful publication in Finland. It was also during this time that Risto started to experiment with adding bands to a stick.
He quickly realised that adding the bands to the stick proved to be a successful way of adding resistance to the exercises that he had already devised. Originally, the bands on the stick was one continuous loop, but he soon realised that having two separate bands allowed for more exercises and functional movements. 1997 after spending all his savings, Risto created the first Gymstick, which originally was called the X Stick and patented it in Finland. From 1997 to 2003, Risto focused on Nordic Walking and did not have time or energy to focus on the X Stick. In 2003, Risto started a company with his business partner Miika and the core business focused on corporate wellness events.
Sanna Kasurinen (Risto’s wife), and Miika started to experiment with the X Stick and this was when they decided to move forward with launching the X Stick. From their Nordic Walking experience, they knew how to develop instructor education and it was at this point that they decided to call the X Stick, Gymstick.
The Gymstick programs took off very quickly in Finland and after 12 months, they realised that they began to focus on Gymstick instead of their corporate events business. This was the beginning of the company and concept that we now know is Gymstick.