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Michelle Loewenstein
2 minute read
3 Aug 2013
6:00 am

Stimulating exercise in only 20 minutes

Michelle Loewenstein

"Please don't forget to remove all of your clothes and underwear." Pardon? It took a lot not to reply with: "Well, at least buy me dinner first."

These words were uttered before my session at the Sandton Bodytec studio – an interesting introduction. The basic premise behind Bodytec is that people lead frenetic lives, so making time to spend at a gym is difficult. Using Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS), Bodytec crams three 90-minute strength training sessions into one 20 minute stint.

According to the company, EMS is completely safe and has no long-term effects, as it merely replicates the natural impulses in your central nervous system.

If the idea that I’d be doing more exercise than I’d done in a year didn’t scare me enough, being told to take off all my clothes definitely did the trick.

It turns out there was a good reason for the request, though. In order to connect you to the machine that will squish your muscles into submission, you need to be hooked up to a number of electrodes that stimulate different muscle groups in your body. Some fabrics interfere with this, so you’re given a suit to wear made of something more conducive.

The suit also needs to be wet, so it’s a lot more convenient than going home in damp gym clothes.

Electrodes are strapped to your upper arms, thighs and rear, and you’re given a vest to wear that makes you look like you’re Lara Croft’s less attractive sidekick. The vest is then connected to the Bodytec machine via a plug that resembles the connection at the back of a computer. Your instructor then takes you through an adjustment session where they alter the machine according to your fitness level.

Stephanie Schwalto, the uber-fit looking woman who explained the concept to me beforehand, had said that the sensation was difficult to describe, and she wasn’t wrong.

The electrical impulses make it feel like your muscles are fighting against the movements you are making. If you’ve ever been hooked up to an electrotherapy machine at a physiotherapist, then you’ll have some idea of what the tingling that accompanies the impulses is like.

Thereafter your workout begins. If you’re generally unfit, you’ll be thankful that the studio only takes two clients at a time. While the exercises that you do are quite simple on their own, combined with the electrical impulses, they feel as difficult as any complicated Pilates move.

It’s said to be more effective than a normal workout because you are working all of your muscle groups at one time. If the stiffness I experienced a day later is anything to go by, then this is true.

Bodytec definitely beats spending a few hours in an overcrowded gym sweating and grunting along with the rest of your suburb. The instructors are friendly and patient, so you won’t feel like a fugitive from McDonalds if you struggle with the workout. If you can deal with being told to take your kit off by a complete stranger, then it’s worth a try.