When I first heard about utilizing EMS technology to achieve fitness and weight loss results, my mind went straight to those commercials for the belly band promising to shrink your tummy while you sit on the couch eating potato chips in your jammies. A slight exaggeration, but it turns out that EMS technology actually does have the ability to work your muscles in profound ways.
EMS stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation, and is most commonly used by physical therapists and chiropractors to target specific muscles and help them contract and strengthen. Full body EMS was just approved by the FDA last year and is popping up across California, New York, Florida, and now, Cincinnati, thanks to physician Sheetal Malik and husband Bharat Kakar of Fitopia.
How does it work?
In short, electric impulses are generated by a special EMS device and are transferred to the muscles by electrodes. As the impulses are sent, the muscle contracts the way muscles do during serious muscular exertion.
What should you expect on your first visit?
First, after they take your temperature upon arrival, you sit down to do a full health consultation. They want to make sure that they understand your goals, as well as your health history and limitations, before you start the workout. They also do a body scan using medical-grade body composition machine that provides them with helpful information on your composition, as well as allows you to measure and track your goals as you continue to work with them. Once you set your goals and are cleared to workout, you change into a tshirt and shorts provided that are specially built to hold moisture and allow for the EMS transmission (you wear nothing underneath—don’t worry though, you suit up with additional gear quick!) Once changed, the trainer helps you into a vest and straps with the electrode packs on them. There is a pack on every major muscle group on your body, ensuring that 90% of your muscle will get stimulated.
Once you’ve got everything on, your personal trainer powers you up by hooking your vest to the machine and starting the impulse one muscle group a time. Each level is set by slowly increasing until you feel the work in the muscle and it isn’t over powering. The best way to describe the sensation is that you feel like you are a phone on vibrate. It isn’t painful or even uncomfortable. It’s just unfamiliar. Once each level is set, it’s time to go to work! There are currently two machines, so you are either working out alone, or with one other person who is at least 10 feet away. Masks are currently required to be worn by all while at Fitopia, and for the duration of the workout.
The workouts you do are customized for your goals and your abilities. They see everyone from athletes looking to better their endurance and performance, to busy parents or professionals who want the most efficient workout possible, to senior citizens that need low impact or even need to work out while sitting. 20 minutes of squats, mountain climbers, planks, push ups, box step ups, and the like, and you are changing out of your gear and hitting the door. Talk about efficient. Best of all? In 20 minutes, the EMS is causing 51,000 muscle contractions across slow and fast twitch muscles, giving you one hell of a muscular workout with minimal effort, and an insane 1130 calorie burn (300 from cardio, 200 from muscle contraction, 630 during the 48-hour muscle recovery period).
Going in a skeptic, I was completely SHOCKED at how I felt later that evening. I was limp on the couch. My muscles were absolutely exhausted and I slept like a baby that night. The next day? More of the same. I couldn’t believe how a 20-minute workout had my muscles so worn out, and that their strong suggestion of 48 hours of rest after the workout was actually really necessary. The EMS + 20 minute workout combo broke down my muscles so much that I needed a full two days of rest for them to build and repair properly (maybe even longer—I took a barre class 2 days later and had to put the 3 lb weights down!).
All in all, you have to experience it for yourself. It’s SO hard to describe. Luckily, they get it and are providing a free introductory week to everyone. Click here to get scheduled. COVID got you worried? In addition to the measures I mentioned earlier, they spray and wipe down all equipment and flooring after each session using alcohol wipes and antibacterial spray, changing rooms are wiped clean after each use, the personal trainers keep their distance during instruction, and they have merv-13 filters which block viruses and bacteria while allowing airflow. They opened their doors during a pandemic, so you can imagine they’ve made safety a huge priority.
This workout would be a good fit for you if you’re crunched for time and want the best workout possible, are looking to hit some big goals or are competing and want a leg up on the competition, or have physical limitations and need more effective assistance to help build muscles and improve your quality of life.
Molly Davis is the co-founder of Quidwell where she assists women in finding their personalized version of health. Outside of Quidwell, she is an account manager for a local boutique social media agency where she helps businesses grow through creative practices and influencer marketing partnerships. A self-diagnosed fitness junkie, it’s hard to find a fitness class that Molly does not enjoy: from boxing to weight training, dance to yoga. In her spare time, you’ll find Molly bopping around town to various studios, hanging out at a local coffee shop, or exploring the latest restaurants with healthy eats.