the ZEN8 Review & 15% Discount Code – Swim Bench Pros and Cons + Zen 8 comparison to Vasa Erg

ZEN8 swim bench trainer paddles reviewZEN8 Review & 15% Discount Code – Swim Bench Pros and Cons + Zen 8 Comparison to Vasa

ZEN8 is a dry land swim fitness, strength and technique trainer and here is my review of it warts and all!

TL;DR – ZEN8 is a cheap, time-saving way to add to your pool fitness. It’s useful to simulate swim-brick workouts from home, building functional strength and is good for a pre-race warm-up. I like it. It has its place.

If you’ve just come here for the discount code instead use this link at the ZEN8 Shop to get 15% automatically applied.

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The Elephant In The Room

Q: Is £159 £139/€124/$124 for a blow-up plastic bladder and a couple of stretch cords costly?

A: I guess it is but the value you can get from ZEN8 is significant. How much is your time worth travelling to and from the pool? What benefit is there from sneaking in all those extra sessions around dealing with the kids? What is the benefit of an improved swim time because you’ve warmed up properly?

Here is a summary review of ZEN8 and I’ll follow that with more detailed pros and cons as well as a comparison to the top-end, uber-expensive Vasa Swim Erg/Bench which I regularly use.

Buy for: £139, €159, $159 (Discount Code now automatically applied)

Zen8 Review
84%

ZEN8 Review Summary

Image|ZEN8 Lucy Buckingham

ZEN8 can’t claim to fully replicate the benefits of pool swimming or open-water swimming.

It almost certainly will however improve your catch and make your stroke stronger. Maybe you’ll get some of the other benefits I’ll highlight below but I’d like to bet that saving your valuable time will be another saving.

OK, you can’t execute a perfect technique on ZEN8, and rotation is limited. However, you should get more than enough from ZEN8 Training to quickly get £159 £139/$159/€159 worth of benefits. I did.

Buy for: £139, €159, $159 (Discount Code automatically applied)

Pros

  • Useful for general training
  • Most useful for technique & functional strength training
  • Could be a pre-race warmup tool
  • Useful for time-crunched triathletes
  • Useful for travelling
  • Relatively cheap
  • Easily stored away
  • Easily inflated
  • Well made
  • Ideal for surfer training

Cons

  • Might be tricky to find an attachment position for the cord
  • Pulls slightly outwards at the end of the stroke
  • Tricky to balance on the bench
  • No electronic wizardry to record your workout other than what your watch might record
  • Stroke recovery is less than realistic
  • Proper rotation is not possible

 

My First Swim & Setting Up

Other reviews I’ve read on the ZEN8 said it was hard to inflate which I don’t understand. It took me less than 5 minutes.

Then I had multiple ways to attach the cords to a secure object in my house (table, door, window). #Simple

The 3 main setup tips I would give would be these

  • Attach the cords at hip height
  • Inflate the bladder so that it is quite firm.
  • Get the cord tension so that your hands are well off the ground ahead of you when at rest

You will probably be unable to balance without your feet on the ground when you first start. It’s difficult. You might also have to play with the inflation pressure over a few sessions to get it sufficiently supportive and sufficiently inflated to avoid exacerbating any wobble in your technique.

ZEN8 swim bench trainer vs vasa erg

ZEN8 Compared to the Vasa Swim Erg

Ouch!: Vasa is about $2300 and ZEN8 with my discount code automatically applied  is $151

Practicalities Comparisons

Firstly, the Vasa Swim Erg takes up even more space than a Concept II rower and is expensive. However, it does provide excellent dual-sided swim power metrics. ZEN8 is expected to introduce a smart add-on in the future, but it will still not be in the same league as what Vasa already offers.

Getting on ZEN8 and setting the bench at the right distance from the wall or pole can be a bit tricky, but it’s not a big deal.

The distance from the wall combined with the length of the bands determines the resistance level with ZEN8. It’s challenging to change this during your workout, unlike with Vasa, where you can simply open or close a flap to adjust the resistance. ZEN8’s shorter bands have a relatively small sweet spot, beyond which the resistance level quickly becomes difficult.

ZEN8 is significantly more comfortable on the chest compared to Vasa. For example, I simply can’t wear a chest strap on the VASA – it’s too painful. The chest comfort offered by ZEN8 might encourage women to give the product a try.

ZEN8 provides no stats whatsoever, apart from what your heart rate monitor or watch might capture. The Vasa Erg, on the other hand, offers excellent data/stats that can be incorporated into your sports data training platform.

I’ve found that a Garmin watch will not capture cadence and stroke with its internal sensors when using Vasa and slightly less so with ZEN8. I’m not entirely sure why, but I assume it’s due to ‘incorrect’ stroke recovery (I don’t have any problems with stroke detection when swimming normally in water).

Technique Comparisons

Although body rotation on ZEN8 is limited, assuming you can balance, there is still more room for some rotation compared to the firm bench of the Vasa Erg.

The pull direction on Vasa, if anything, starts from the front and then moves inward towards your body at the end of the pull. On the other hand, the central tether location for the ZEN8 cords provides the opposite effect, moving your hands slightly outward towards the rear. I believe ZEN8 is ‘wrong’ in this aspect, but it doesn’t make much difference in reality. If they could find a way to attach the ends of the cords shoulder-width apart, it would solve the issue.

I noticed that ZEN8 compelled me to catch early in the stroke, which is beneficial. However, the physically challenging part of the stroke was towards the end when the cord was fully stretched and offered the most resistance. The most forward propulsion is generated in the middle of the stroke, and Vasa replicates that better.

Vasa does not have any height restrictions between you and the ground, so you could be pulling with your arm too straight. When using ZEN8, you must have a correctly bent arm and a high elbow; otherwise, your hand hits the floor. ie ZEN8 automatically encourages better technique.

Both Vasa and ZEN8 help you focus on the precise details of any aspect of your catch and pull. You can concentrate on whatever you need to without worrying about breathing or staying afloat.

Neither can truly replace actual time spent in the water for fitness purposes.

ZEN8 swim bench trainer vs vasa erg

Coaching and Training Videos

The coaching videos are OK but somewhat repetitive and limited in scope. I’m in two minds on whether or not to recommend getting them so I’d say if you have any doubt…don’t!

Use Cases

For a straightforward product, there is nevertheless a good variety of use cases.

  • RACE DAY – the cords and/or inflatable bench provide a great way to warm up before a triathlon or swim event.
  • TRAVELLING – Small, lightweight and easily transportable on holiday or work trips.
  • COMPACT – Ideal for use at home when there isn’t much space to store and use gym equipment
  • TRANSITION PRACTICE – Triathletes can better replicate swim-to-bike efforts when brick training.
  • TECHNIQUE – ZEN8 is excellent for micro-analysing and developing many aspects of stroke mechanics. Easily practised in slow motion, and easily videoed.
  • FITNESS – You might get away with swapping one of 3 weekly swim sessions from the water to ZEN8. Maybe. Perhaps.
  • TIME-CRUNCHED – ZEN8 is a massive time saver. It can easily be used for 15-30 minutes around other commitments. A great way to increase your weekly swim training time without wasting too much travel time to the pool.
  • STRENGTH – ZEN8 is great for building functional strength ie strength in exactly the right muscle groups and motions to support aspects of your swim stroke.
  • SURFING – ZEN8 is great for you guys to replicate the strength and technique you’ll need to paddle your board out.

My Usage Going Forwards

I am in a fortunate position to have the choice between lots of pieces of tech that I use for this ‘job’ on the website. So I don’t have to make too many compromises when it comes to time, money or space.

I will continue to use my GBP2000 Vasa Erg. I could afford it and I have the space for it (just!). I want its data.

I will probably use ZEN8  for strength work and the Vasa for longer fitness sessions, and I will probably combine those two uses into some single sessions. I might even continue to use ZEN8 for 5-15 minutes at the start of indoor swim work just for strength and technique then switch to the Vasa. I find that after 30-45 minutes on the Vasa, it gets uncomfortable so substituting 15 of those minutes for the ZEN8 makes sense for me.

What’s included in the base level Product?

For £139 you get all you need to start out:

  • Swim-Bench – 35x50x80cm when in use.
  • Bench Cover – Antibacterial mesh for comfort
  • LVL 1 – Swim Cords With Paddles 
  • Instructions, Hand Pump, Free Swim Cap, Free Quick Start Plan

Product Options

Various bundles include coaching videos, swim goggles, different kinds of bands, swim caps, and plans. Some of the freebies do not seem to be added to your cart in the USA…just UK/EU.

Bought separately the extra bands start at £25 and the coaching video from £69

ZEN8 Discount – Details

Use this link to get 15% off. Note that ZEN8 bundles already include a discount. So, providing you spend over £100 at the ZEN8 store you will get a 15% discount on these:

  • ZEN8 Dryland Swim Trainer,
  • LVL 2 Power Swim Cords,
  • ZEN8 Z1 SWIM GOGGLE – Black & Red – Chrome Mirror Lens Inc Case,
  • ZEN8 Z1 SWIM GOGGLE – White & Red – Gold Mirror Lens Inc Case,
  • ZEN8 Z2 SWIM GOGGLE – Black & Red Smoke Lens Inc Case,
  • ZEN8 ROTATE PERFORMANCE BANDS

If you spend more than c$60 you’ll get free shipping.

UK Checkout Example Shown with 15% Discount Automatically Applied

ZEN8 Review – Take Out

ZEN8 is relatively cheap and kinda does what it says on the tin. It’s not for everyone but it can relatively easily improve your technique, your transitions, your swim strength, and help maintain your swim fitness.

I’ve mentioned in some detail many of the problems with ZEN8. However, I just don’t think most of them matter. It’s enough to be aware of them and intelligently fit the good parts of ZEN8 into your training regime.

Buy for: £139, €159, $159 (Discount Cod automatically applied)

Buy Here: ZEN8SwimTrainer

Image|ZEN8 Lucy Buckingham

 

 

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