I’m having an extremely strange Thursday morning and Poppy Delevingne is to blame.
Wearing an outfit that looks like it’s come straight from a sci-fi movie, I’m squatting while hooked up to a machine that is sending an intense surge of electrical stimulation through my muscles every four seconds. Why?
I’ve come to EMS Fitness in Norwich to test out one of this year’s biggest fitness trends – electro muscle stimulation. Much loved by celebs including Delevingne and the Made In Chelsea crew, EMS sees you work out while attached to a device that sends an electrical impulse to your muscles, intensifying their contractions and thus giving you more efficient results.
‘It really is the most effective workout,’ promises Eladio de Leon, founder of London EMS studio E-Pulsive. ‘Just 20 minutes equates to 90 of high-intensity training.’
My trainer, Beatrice van den Heuvel, co-founded EMS Fitness in 2015. She spritzes water on an oversuit covered with electrodes (which helps conduction) before fastening it over me and attaching it to the EMS device.
Then she turns various dials to establish how much impulse I feel comfortable with – it’s intensely tingly but not painful. Finally, it’s time to get moving.
The low-impact moves Beatrice leads me through – squats, lunges and arm raises – are familiar but the surges of intense current make the moves more challenging.
‘You’re making this look too easy!’ she says halfway through and ramps up the current.
The session ends with five minutes of hill walking and jogging on a treadmill while a ‘metabolic’ EMS programme gives almost continual jolts of impulse. It feels a bit like running while being pricked with a dull knitting needle.
So why does EMS have so many fans? ‘You can improve fitness performance, build muscle strength and endurance, and even recover faster,’ Beatrice says. ‘Combined with cardio exercise, it can also really get your heart pumping.’
It’s easy to see why EMS is ‘surging’ in popularity. Sessions are short but you get a lot of fitness bang for your buck. The technology has been proven to help older people and post-natal women train safely, and those seeking help with injuries or pain.
‘You don’t need to be super fit,’ says De Leon. ‘While the thought of wearing the suit is daunting, the actual workout is suitable for everyone. But if someone wants to push themselves, the intensity of the impulse can be increased.’
The downsides? It’s expensive, costing £36.50 for a one-off private session at EMS Fitness and £85 for the same at E-Pulsive – but that’s not perhaps that steep when compared with any other one-on-one PT session. Plus, trainers recommend doing only one or two sessions a week to let your body recover.
Although I enjoy my session, being attached to the EMS device doesn’t give me the sense of freedom and release that other forms of exercise do. Nevertheless, I feel unusually focused and energised after my class.
So are you ready to feel ‘galvanised’? EMS training might just be for you – I promise, it’s not half as scary as it looks.
Find out more with EMS Fitness Norwich.
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