Hey there lovely readers!
I’ve been missing since around my surgery, how are you? I’m doing well, although a lot of things have happened since we last spoke… I decided that I need to move back to Baltimore, and until then I’ve moved in with some friends. I’m still teaching and was even offered a spot teaching at the local university until my move. Yeah, a lot…
I’ve just settled in to the new place this week, and with that came a lot of unpacking and a lot of meeting with people to give them things. One of the people I met up with was my friend Jennie, because I had a magazine for her from a mutual friend. When we met up, she told me about this new type of fitness training she’d been doing, and asked me if I’d like to come along and try it with her. She knows I have a fitness site, and is allowed to bring a friend four times for free. For the sake of science, we agreed that I would go with her on Tuesday to give it a try.
She’s doing this thing called EMS training, which is electronic muscle stimulation. You can read up on it HERE on the Wiki page. Now, when I left the states, this was just starting to pick up and didn’t seem to be very popular… at least, that’s the impression I was under. As a rule of thumb, I tend to NOT use machinery to work out, and don’t trust anything that tries to guarantee higher results for less work. I guess you could call me ‘old-fashioned’?
Needless to say, I was pretty sceptical about the whole thing, but went along anyway. J was really talking it up, about how toned she feels after just a few workouts, how much she sweats, etc… it made me interested to see what it was all about, how it would feel, etc.
I had a few concerns going in since I have MS, which is a neurological disorder. This type of stimulation might not be the best thing for someone with nerve issues. I knew there was no way anything really BAD could happen to me, as it’s just like getting a slight shock, but I am still a bit concerned about what long-term consequences might come from someone like me taking part in this type of training.
But, in the name of science and for our readers, I went in to give it a try.
When my friend told me I didn’t need to bring workout clothes, I was confused, and I packed them anyway. When we got there, I found out why: the training center gives you clothes to wear. Why? The answer is simple: because in order to have maximum connectivity/contact between the apparatus and the muscles, you can’t wear underwear, and the suit that they put you in is slightly damp (think about the sponge on the head at electrocutions, if you will: conducting electricity).
Because of this, they give you the clothes you see me wearing here, to wear ohne underwear. Really, ohne shit. And then at the end of the session, you peel them off of you and leave them in a hamper at the studio to be washed and loaned out again, and then put your panties back on. Part of me was not happy about this, but then again, I also rent bowling shoes and sometimes other things, like climbing shoes and roller skates. And I have a feeling that the clothes you see me in might have been slightly more sanitary than those other things.
A word to anyone who wants to try this: DON’T do any trimming or shaving down there beforehand. I tend to keep my landing strip rather short and close-cut, and this was not a pleasant experience when I was doing squats. So, you’ve officially been warned.
After you’ve gotten changed, they zip you in to another piece of, erm, clothing. This thing, to the left. Sorry it’s a little blurry, it was taken with an iPhone. I look like I’m about to jump out of a damn plane. But you get the idea. It is adjustable on the sides, so you can tighten or loosen to get the right fit. It has to be snug, and it is a little cold because it’s wet under the arm and thigh bands. As you can see, there are a bunch of wires attached to different spots, all of them directly contacting a major muscle. You can see biceps, pectorals, abs and hamstrings in this photo.
The suit then plugs into a machine (see the next photo), and you spend about 10 minutes adjusting every electrical point to make sure you have a decent level of electricity flowing in. It doesn’t go full-stop the entire time, but rather on for 4 seconds, off for 4 seconds or so. You only do the workout techniques during the ‘on’ four seconds, and then rest in the off-time.
(Ohne means ‘without’ or ‘no’ in German, btw)
So the trainer led us through a 20-minute workout which went really, really fast, I have to say. All of the techniques were typical gym techniques, just without the weights. I think I went in expecting to use weights, but I was wrong. As an example, to exercise the pectoral muscles, you do a move that is literally like doing chest flies on the chest fly machine at the gym. But you do it without weights, and are supposed to tense your entire body instead.
The tensing is apparently a big part of this, and not something I was doing very well, to be honest. In fact, as far as electricity levels are concerned, my electric levels were slightly low, but turned very high up. I think I was at 35% electricity, but turned up to about 80%… I have no idea if that is good or bad, or if it means much of anything.
J and the trainer kept asking me how I felt about the electricity, and to be honest, I think for me it wasn’t as odd as it might be for most people. It actually feels a LOT like what my legs do to me when I’ve done too much walking in a day. It feels like MS symptoms, which is not shocking, considering it’s a nervous system issue as much as an autoimmune disorder. Everyone’s symptoms are different, but for me personally, after I’ve walked all day, my legs do something that feels a lot like electrical fireworks going off in different locations, sporadically, for about an hour or two after I’ve stopped the walking. No joke. So maybe this electricity thing wasn’t as much of an issue for me as it might be for most who are just beginning. It was definitely interesting, to say the least.
Now, to the verdict: how do I feel about it?
I’ll say this: I’m still skeptical.
There are some things that are feeding into this judgement. For starters, I wasn’t worn out after the workout. That could be because it was my first ‘real’ workout in HOW LONG? But also, I wasn’t pushing so hard. I am notorious for NOT pushing too hard these days, since I know what it could do to me if I go too far.
On the other hand, I was a bit sore the next day. Now, I was partially sore to begin with since I’d just moved on Monday, and the workout was Tuesday, but the soreness from schlepping (another German word, but you know that one:) boxes on Monday was a little different from what I felt on Wednesday, proving that DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) had set in. That’s positive.
Secondly, I still have my doubts about a 20-minute EMS training being equal to 60 minutes of ‘real’ training. Here’s what the internet has to say about EMS training, btw. On the upside, I am going to go again this Tuesday and see if I can get a harder workout out of the whole thing. We’ll see.
As I said, my friend J is swearing by this, and I doubt she’d be making it up, since she’s actually paying to go there. So I’m willing to try it again and see what I can do.
In the meantime, I look forward to finally getting back into a routine, now that I am something closer to ‘settled’ in the new place.