When I went to meet friends for dinner last week, they wondered why I was struggling to walk/lift my knife and fork/smile/speak… The answer, was not what they were expecting. I’d been strapped into a futuristic bodysuit, wired up to a machine and repeatedly electrocuted for 25 minutes.
No, not some torturous form of initiation to the Unbound team, but the latest fitness craze to hit these shores, electric muscle stimulation, also known as EMS.
EMS training involves wearing a body suit lined with electrodes, which send electric impulses deep into your muscles
Already a huge success in Spain and Germany, EMS training involves wearing a body suit lined with electrodes, which send electric impulses deep into your muscles as you workout. Mimicking the actions of the central nervous system, the idea is that these electric impulses bring about muscle contractions and increase the intensity of your training.
It’s claimed that EMS training can drastically reduce the amount of time you need to spend working out, help strengthen and build muscles, and increase fat loss. But is it any good, or just the latest screwball fitness fad?
I went along to exerceo training in London, one of the first studios in the UK solely dedicated to EMS training, to find out.
1. You get to wear cool kit
There’s no need for any gym kit apart from your trainers. Before the 25-minute full body training class, you’re given a cotton suit to wear that the trainer wets with either warm or cold water (depending on their mood).
The cotton suit is worn under the EMS suit itself. This allows for efficient transmission of the impulses to your major muscle groups, without the electrodes making direct contact with your skin.
2. Being electrocuted doesn’t hurt as much as you might think
The electric impulses aren’t actually painful, it’s more of a tingling feeling that you soon get used to
The electric impulses aren’t actually painful, it’s more of a tingling feeling that you soon get used to. The trainer can increase or decrease the strength of the impulses though, so be nice to them. When head trainer Nooroa Ogden turned it up I did find my muscles going into some kind of weird twitchy dance.
3. EMS training only takes 25 minutes
Don’t be fooled though – it’ll probably be the longest 25 minutes of your life.
The electric impulses made everything feel soooooo much more intense
While the exercises Nooroa put me through were all quite simple – ab crunches, squats with bicep curls, press ups, lunges with medicine ball twists, mountain climbers – the electric impulses made everything feel soooooo much more intense. Like 21 thousand times more intense plus a billion.
According to Nooroa, it’s perfect for those who are short on time as, “It helps you achieve twice as much as you would in an hour’s time at the gym.”
4. They don’t supply any weights above 7kg
When Nooroa first told me this, my thoughts were ‘Hoorah for an easy workout!’ That was before the machine was turned on!
The electrodes make you feel as though you’re lifting 100kg, despite the number on the weights saying two. This isn’t a machine for the proud, you might be able to squat 80kg bro, but you’ll soon be struggling with the world’s smallest hand weights.
5. You only need to do it once or twice a week to see results
You can expect to see a body fat decrease of around 4% in six weeks
According to the exerceo website, you’ll feel stronger, faster and fitter after just four sessions and can expect to see a decrease of around 4% body fat in six weeks. All this with just one or two sessions a week.
To be fair, I doubt you could do more than two sessions a week anyway – for the following three days after my training I could barely get out of bed. I have never felt DOMS like it!
6. Usain Bolt and Lionel Messi are fans
But don’t worry, it’s not just for performance athletes. EMS can be tailored to any fitness level and is also good for those recovering from injury as there’s no strain on your joints or tendons.
There are certain health constrictions for people with pacemakers and pregnant women though.
7. It’s not cheap, but it’s not prohibitively expensive either
As with any new technology, you do pay for the use of the equipment, but all sessions are with a personal trainer so prices from £35 a go seem fair enough.
To find out more about EMS training and to book in for a free trial visit exerceotraining.co.uk