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Power Plate says it is the premium vibration device powering a new dimension in wellness solutions

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Author: Times Online

Times Online

From The Times
August 25, 2007

Power plate
Philip and Rosie share good and bad vibrations in their latest husband-and-wife challenge

He says: “I am a bit of a technophobe, so I’m not keen”

MR MILLARD

Six gleaming monster machines are positioned in the corner of our gym, Virgin Gym, in Islington, North London, where I was wont to do abdominal crunches on an exercise mat. Rather like that discarded doll in the children’s animated film Toy Story 2, my faithful old low-tech friend, the mat, has been summarily dispatched in favour of something flash and novel. Well, we’ll see.

Power Plate says it is the “premium vibration device powering a new dimension in wellness solutions”. Rosie whispers that The Police are taking one of these machines on their forthcoming tour, to keep them in peak physical form throughout. Apparently Sting has been quoted as saying that Power Plate is the “key component in helping him to feel good and look his best”. I remind her that he once said the same thing about tantric sex.

I’m probably only jealous because I’m about the same age as the great rocker and he’s in far better shape than I am. Still, I now feel a strange union with the star, namely concerning use of, er, a rather large, silver vibrator, on which you perform many of your usual gym floor exercises. Because it is vibrating, the effect of the exercise is much greater – and quicker. Apparently it was invented for cosmonauts in 1975. It works by creating instability in the body, forcing one to perform reflexive muscle actions 25 to 50 times a second. The net result is apparently a marked improvement in strength and power. The machines are used by Premier League footballers, and also to rehabilitate osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis and arthritis sufferers.

“Power Plate recruits 100 per cent more muscle fibre and taps into your subconscious muscle responses,” says Carolyn, a personal trainer at Virgin Gym, impressively. In double-quick time. To me, this sounds like high-speed executive golf, expressly designed to cram your game into a couple of hours, consequently allowing you to dash back to the office and make a few more million. Or, in Sting’s case, to write another hit tune.

The session lasts 15 minutes, and Carolyn, who obviously doesn’t think that I’m up to much, starts with something simple, the squat stance. I grab the handles of the Power Plate and duly squat as she switches it on. The shaking is set at the lowest level, but I still feel somewhat unsteady, and am glad for the handlebars, although Carolyn insists that I’m not going to fall off.

I’m more worried about getting the position wrong and suffering uncomfortable vibrations up my spine.

Frankly, it looks, feels and buzzes like a piece of kit that should be in a hospital. I feel very strongly as if I should get off. Actually, I feel a bit nauseous. Maybe I should have taken a travel sickness pill before my workout.

We put soft mats on the plate and kneel down on the floor beside it, bent arms on the machine. We are going to do press-ups. This isn’t much better either, although I manage to heed Carolyn’s advice not to stare at the vibrating mat as she says that might make me feel even worse.

About 30 strength-building exercises are outlined on a scary-looking chart above the machine. Thankfully, there’s only time for a couple more – a lunge squat in which I have to stick out my back leg and dip down on my front (being vibrated, of course), while standing with one leg on the Power Plate and leaning over it, and then, the nigh impossible – or advanced – lateral abdominal stretch, in which I lie on my side on the floor with my elbow on the machine waiting for the whole experience to end.

The next day I felt weary, but not as if I had a major workout.

VERDICT Give me back my exercise mat.

She says: “This looks like my kind of workout”

MRS MILLARD

Well, it doesn’t look very tough, frankly. Standing on a vibrating plate while you hold on to a pair of handles. However, it is definitely not the sort of thing that lights Mr Millard’s candle. He prefers scary, sweaty group things, such as cricket or circuit training.

Doing something that promises you a toned bod in just 15 minutes is right up my street, however. The posters around the Virgin Gym, revealing that Madonna and Kylie are also devotees, implies that this is a bit of equipment squarely aimed at women, which is probably a first on the gym floor.

We get going on our pro 5 Power Plates (which are each worth about £7,000) and the vibrations are set at a slow speed of 30 hertz (the top speed is 50).

“Am I likely to fall off?” my husband worries. Well, he was never one for skateboarding. Our trainer assures us that nobody is going to fall off. “Take a squatting position, then pulse!” she continues.

It’s a bit like doing body pump on top of a washing machine. The Plate does its thing for a minute, then stops. Well, a minute is never going to hurt anyone. It’s just not hard grind, such as running on a treadmill, or even three minutes on one of those vile rowing machines. We all get off it and prepare for press-ups.

It’s here I realise that this machine really loves women, since the scary press-up so beloved by blokes is a totally different animal when your torso is about a foot off the ground aboard a Power Plate. After kissing off the press-ups, I start being silly, pretending to be Superman. This isn’t a workout, it’s a laugh.

“Do we need to go for a run now?” asks Mr Millard, after our session is over. Our trainer gives him an odd look. “Not at all,” she says, slowly, as if talking to an idiot. “This is a full workout. Your muscles may even start to ache in 24 hours’ time.” An invisible, easy workout in the time taken to blow-dry your hair. It’s perfect. And I didn’t have any stiffness or aching the next day.

VERDICT No team sports, not much pain, lots of gain, in just 15 minutes. I could become a big fan.


Virgin Gym has launched Power Plate classes in gyms nationwide. Call 0845 1304747 or virginactive.co.uk for details. David Lloyd Leisure also runs classes; davidlloyd.co.uk. To order a Power Plate, call 020-7586 7200.

 

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Or the Flexi-Bar Workout 


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