By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
Vibration exercise machines are creating a buzz and it’s not just from the sound the platform makes when it’s on.
Shannon Anthony, owner of the Serenity Fitness & Wellness studio in Boyertown, said muscles respond differently to whole body vibration machines than with traditional exercise equipment. When the vibration machine is on, the platform plate drops down 2 millimeters up to 50 times per second.
“As the plate drops, your body reacts to that,” Anthony said.
She said this means the muscles in your body are contracting at 50 times per second along with the platform. If a person is standing on the platform then they’ll feel it throughout their whole body even without moving. Anthony said with conventional exercise machines such as those that require weight lifting, people are using about 45 percent of their muscles. With a vibration platform, people use about 95 percent of their muscles. The vibrations also result in a shorter exercise period. A 30-second rep on the machine can feel like a five-minute workout.
“15 minutes of this (the vibration machine) is equal to an hour in the (conventional) gym,” Anthony said.
Jim Muldoon, 85, of Perkiomenville, has been a member of Serenity Fitness & Wellness for about five years. Muldoon first saw a vibration exercise machine at a seniors club he belonged to and said the platform just looked like a really big scale. But after trying it with just one leg, he said he feel his muscles moving. Now Muldoon works out regularly on the machine and said he’s lost 20 pounds from doing so.
“Look at me. I’m 85 years old. I don’t know another 85-year-old that can keep up with me,” he joked.
Muldoon said he likes that the machine allows him to do low-impact exercises. He said there are no feet pounding on the floor and you’re not working up a sweat yet it’s still a great exercise.
Vibration exercises are often used in physical therapy and for seniors that have a limited range of motion. There are even platforms where a whole wheelchair or walker can be place on the machine. Vibration therapy was first used to help astronauts increase their muscle strength and bone density during a Russian Space program. According to the Serenity Fitness & Wellness website, there are several benefits to using the moving platform. Exercising with a vibration exercise can lead to increased metabolism, better balance, improved range in motion and more.
While standing on a vibration platform automatically contracts muscles; doing various movements will intensify the workout. Depending on the exercise, people will feel the vibration strongly in different muscles groups and parts of the body. Anthony said if you stand on the platform then lift your heels, the vibrations transfer to the calf muscles. She said a difference is really felt in the legs and this increases circulation as well.
“So that’s how we target different areas of the body. We put our body in different positions on the plate to engage more muscle groups,” she said.
Anthony starts anyone new to the machine with some basic exercises such as a deep squat, calf raise and v-seat. With each new movement, people can immediately feel the muscles they are contracting. Usually people will do a certain exercise or hold a position on the machine for 30 seconds to a 1½ minutes. Anthony said 30 seconds can feel like forever depending on the movement. She was speaking specifically of holding a plank position by placing the arms and elbows on the platform.
“The plank will get you,” Muldoon said, who does the position regularly when he exercises.
Once people get used to basic movements on the vibration platforms then they can advance to other exercises. Anthony said the machines can be used as a stepper. People can also run and jump on the platform, she said.
“There’s a very long progression so you’ll see people do many different things on here,” she said.
She also said celebrities such as Mark Wahlberg use vibration machines to get in shape. In a Men’s Health article, Wahlberg explained he would warm-up by jumping rope and doing sets of squats on the platform. Other celebrities that have mentioned using the machine are Sophia Bush, Gwen Stefani and Madonna.
To learn more about the Serenity Fitness & Wellness studio and the vibration platforms there, visit the website www.serenityjunction.com. Vibration machines are also sold at a variety of online retail stores including Amazon, Sears and Walmart.