These aren't the ordinary rubber bands that come wrapped around your morning newspaper.
These ones improve athleticism, strength, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. They also come in handy for rehabilitating injuries.
They are called FlexBands, and they are the central feature of Prince George's newest gym, the Jump Stretch Canada Fitness Centre.
The centre, run by director Don Allemeersch, is located on the upper floor of Gold's Gym, at 760 Victoria St.
Allemeersch, a 57-year-old Prince George Fire Department captain and personal trainer, opened for business in the first week of December. His gym is the only one of its kind in Canada. And, already, he has a client base of about 30 people.
"All athletes can benefit from this because it trains athletic function," said Allemeersch, who has set national and international records in shot put and discus during his own athletic career and is now the FlexBand national distributor. "In athletics, if you think about it, you're running forwards, you're running backwards, you're going laterally. You're jumping, you're stopping, you're exploding, you've got endurance. So every application, this covers."
One of Allemeersch's clients is local mixed martial arts fighter Clayton Sheen, a Canadian flyweight champion. Allemeersch has also been working with local track and field athletes and members of the Prince George Spruce Kings. He has also sparked interest from the Prince George Judo Club and from everyday folks, including senior citizens.
"I had a 77-year-old lady in here last week, who couldn't climb a ladder, who was doing assisted squats with FlexBands," Allemeersch said. "And man, was she excited. She said, 'I can do this!' and I said, 'Well, you're still a young lady.' And she looked at her 48-year-old son and she goes, 'See! I told you I was still young!'"
FlexBands represent weight amounts that range from five pounds to 200 pounds.
Allemeersch was first introduced to FlexBands more than a year ago when he was in Kamloops, training for the 2010 World Masters Games. A Kamloops thrower/coach showed him a band and told him to check out the FlexBand website. Allemeersch followed that advice and was immediately intrigued.
"I liked what I saw and, because of my personal training, I decided to go get certified [as an instructor]," Allemeersch said.
The FlexBand inventor is Dick Hartzell, a resident of Youngstown, Ohio. Hartzell founded the company in 1980 and, over the years, has helped train all variety of amateur and professional athletes. Allemeersch traveled to Ohio in June and took a one-day certification course.
This Friday, starting at 7 p.m., Hartzell will be at the Jump Stretch Canada Fitness Centre to lead a seminar and demonstration.
"He's going to show people how flexible you can still be at 70 years old, and how fit you can be," Allemeersch said.
On Saturday, beginning at 12:15 p.m., Hartzell will hold a certification course.
Ultimately, Allemeersch said he hopes to see FlexBands used widely in Prince George and the rest of the country.
"What my focus is, is to teach classes -- to make a difference in our culture," he said. "It would be nice to help a little old lady that wants to climb a ladder again and it would be nice to help some of these Spruce Kings kids make the NHL, because there are a lot of NHL teams that are using FlexBands."