What Can YOU get from an Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) Workout? Join me in my journey with Body Twenty and find out!
I am so enthused to share with you my experience at BodyTwenty, a new workout phenomenon that has me head over heels into exploring a whole new way to workout. Exercise has been my life’s priority, so this adventure is exciting and fun for me to share. Stay tuned to this series as I keep you updated on what it is like to exercise with EMS and what YOU can gain from it!
Introduction to Body20
If you ever used a TENS unit to relieve pain, you’ll identify with the sense of an electrical pulse flooding your nervous system and give you a little “jolt” that reduces the nerve’s ability to transmit pain and stimulates the release of pain-relieving endorphins.
Now imagine putting the TENS unit on steroids and wearing a suit that applies the electronic stimulation to your whole body, sending electrical impulses to deep muscle fibers. While it may sound a little weird, I was intrigued by the concept, knowing that EMS had been used therapeutically for years, so why couldn’t it apply to helping muscle stimulation for exercise?
I was introduced to BodyTwenty.com at an event for Broward County Special Olympics at Riverfront Park and decided to give it a try.
With electrodes strapped to my biceps, I did a series of curls with tiny little weights while a guy with an iPad zapped me with electronic impulses. The Body20 franchisee, Mike Fleet, explained how the impulses worked my muscles at a higher percentage than my actual muscle contraction could do on its own. I could feel my muscles working at a higher level than they would have just lifting the little weights, so I had to go back for more.
As a side note, I like to think I am fit. I’ve worked out my whole life, am a personal trainer and yoga instructor and also teach senior fitness classes. However, like most people “my age,” I’ve had some injury setbacks that prohibit me from doing the volume—both weight and frequency and the types of workouts I used to. A shoulder injury, the accumulation of years of overdoing upper body workouts resulted in a Plasma Rich Platelet (PRP) therapy treatment this spring, (That is another story and blog!) which drastically limited my workouts while I recovered. As a result, I felt like I had lost a significant amount of upper body muscle mass over the summer, which left me feeling a little wimpy, but even worse, I noticed some “crepey” skin on my upper arms! UGH! What used to be toned and firm biceps were becoming mere vestiges of what was, and I now saw saggy skin staring at me as I leaned forward to do pushups. Hence, my attraction to an exercise mode that promised muscle tone without heavy weights, so off I went to get zapped into shape!
The newest BodyTwenty studio is located in Fort Lauderdale’s trendy new neighborhood, Flagler Village. There is another studio in Wilton Manors, two in Boca Raton and more in planning. The Flagler Village location is in the new Pearl condo building, 400 SW 3rd Avenue on the ground floor where a bright, 2-bedroom unit is transformed into a workout studio, easily accessible to all the new area condo units. The staff is young, upbeat and energetic and when you arrive be ready to GO!
I slipped on a provided BodyTwenty Lycra ¾ sleeve top and Capri pants that are the uniform for the workout. But before working out, I get a One Body evaluation that measures your muscle, fat and water levels—and more–electronically on a machine in 40 seconds. This feedback gives you a benchmark for your progress. Since I had just come off of a 9-day vacation with very little exercise (I know, I know, I needed a little break!) I was a bit afraid of the results, but at least I knew where I was—and knew the levels would improve.
Next, I donned a flak jacket—really, think bullet-proof vest–with sensors (which need to be sprayed with water, so the wet surfaces help conduct the electronic surge to the skin). This goes over the clothing, as do padded leg and bicep wraps that clamp tight to your muscles. A battery pack, connected to all the suit’s sensors was tucked into a back pocket and though I felt a little like the Michelin Man, I was ready to get rolling!
As I stood in a “brace” position with all my muscles tensed in a semi-squat, with biceps clenched, I felt a little tingle on my skin—just like in the demo in the park. But after checking with me on the power level, the instructor, Alyssa, cranked it up a bit so I could feel the stimulation into my muscles. After a brief warm up, with the pulses going through me as I briskly walked the treadmill, I was ready to do my cardio workout, music pumping in the background.
Alyssa, a fit and petite “Sgt. At Arms,” stood ready with her iPad, counting out reps, increasing the charge and giving me a non-stop 12-minute workout—the standard for first time participants. While the jumping jacks, squats and bicep curls didn’t faze me, I couldn’t believe that my core was tired out as I did my last set of reverse sit ups. I can do those all day long, but after being zapped with varying does of electricity, I could barely lift my hips off the mat! Then, for my wrap up, I did 2 minutes of high intensity work on the air bike to my MAX. I’ve done minute long HIIT intervals, but 2 minutes did me in. I limped off the bike, worked up a sweat, had involved my whole body and was energized though my muscles were fatigued. And that was in just over 12 minutes! I scheduled a strength workout for a couple of days later and was surprised that evening when I felt muscle fatigue—from a 12-minute workout! The bike really kicked my butt and my thighs were sore for days so now I was really intrigued! Could this really work?!
Stay tuned for news on my next BodyTwenty workout!