Author: Judy Barlow,
The holidays are over. All the parties; the rum with eggnog and brandied fruitcake (with marzipan); the dinners with people you avoided all year, are finally behind you. Until your mirror says they’re still behind you – literally.
For many people still carrying turkey drumsticks and pumpkin pies under their too-tight belts this can be an easy fix. A few extra trips to the gym and you’re good to go.
But what about people who can’t exercise vigorously enough to shake those extra pounds; like some seniors or people living with chronic health or mobility issues? Are they doomed? Must they choose? Self-imposed semi-starvation or ever-expanding elastic waistbands? Tough call.
The most researched and fastest expanding fitness therapy today is an adaptation of biomechanical stimulation (BMS), known as whole-body vibration (WBV). The notion of shaking things up by shaking all over is hardly new. According to Wikipedia even the ancient Greeks promoted healing through vibration.
BMS most famously came into vogue in the 1960s and ‘70s when Russian scientist Vladimir Nazarov developed the then top-secret therapy for use in the Soviet space program. Russian cosmonauts stayed in space without muscle atrophy or loss of bone density a whopping three times longer than American astronauts who returned from space with marshmallow muscles and gummy worm bones.
Today WBV plays a key role in sports, fitness, aesthetics, rehabilitation, and medical therapies. WBV machines are popping up in seniors’ facilities, fitness centres, wellness centres, and the offices of specialists like kinesiologists, physiatrists, chiropractors, and physiotherapists. Many pro sports teams as well as virtually all Olympic athletes use vibration to warm up before training and intensify work-outs.
Does this mean you can stand on a platform for ten minutes to gain abs of steel and thighs of thunder?
Of course not.
To lose weight you’ll have to break a sweat and put a little muscle into it. But beyond weight loss come reports of significant health benefits.
Paul Doulliard, a member of T Zone in Langford, says, “I’ve been diagnosed with lymphatic sarcoidosis – basically the lymphatic system doesn’t pump itself so you have to move it to artificially pump it, and this is the best workout you can get to do that without having to jump around all over the place.”
Even though he’s only been a member for about two weeks, Paul claims, “It’s working out good. I know my circulation is improved. My girlfriend is using it for a workout and she has pretty much the strongest core muscle strength of anyone I know … even she says it’s one of the hardest workouts she’s ever done…”
Senior Wilma Hanakah declares, “… It’s improved my balance and strengthened my core and makes me feel a whole lot better. Anyone of any age can benefit from it.”
Eva Craig agrees. “I’m fairly healthy to start with but I find I get a great workout. Anyone can use it, whether you’re nineteen or ninety years old.”
Kathleen Berry, wanting the convenience of 24/7 access, bought a portable model. Even so, she finds it difficult to access on demand.
What’s the problem?
Her dog, Tiki.
“He likes to steal it from me,” Kathleen laughs.
Reports suggest vibration therapy is very popular with pets.
According to T-Zone owner Shelly Todd the main benefits include improved circulation of the lymphatic system and increased muscle definition and improved muscle tone while losing weight and inches. Also, “People have reported that sitting or standing on the plate helps relax the muscles, so there have been reports of improvement with sciatica.”
Vibes Fitness in Oak Bay offers an alternative to Langford’s T-Zone, and, VibraFit says their residential and institutional sales are brisk, especially in geriatric facilities where vibration therapy is invaluable for seniors managing osteoporosis, poor balance, and Parkinsonian symptoms.
Increasingly, both WBV and EMS are being used in aesthetics to smooth skin and reduce cellulite. T-Zone member Gloria Heinekey claims that after dieting and exercising for over forty years, she (finally) no longer has cellulite, “Now that no one cares any more at my age”.
Despite miracle claims, WBV is not for everyone. If you’re pregnant, recovering from recent surgery, or suffering from some back injuries, vibration is not for you. Anyone with serious health issues should check with their doctor before they try to shake, rattle, and roll their way to better health. But with T-Zone offering a free one week trial period, what have you got to lose, other than that last mincemeat tart that just won’t go away?