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Working It Out – Good Vibrations

 The Workout: Power Plate

The Power Institute (powerinstitute.com) is a Toronto boutique fitness facility training more mature types with amped-up, high-tech, medically certified equipment that works together to accelerate exercise and fat loss results.

Power Plate is a vibrating platform on which cardiovascular and body-weight training exercises are performed to increase strength, muscle tone and the body’s ability to excrete fat and toxins – all key to the body aging well, with less injury, risk of falls and healthier cell production.

This is rocket science, used first by Russian cosmonauts in the ’60s to prevent muscle and bone loss in zero gravity. The Power Plate fitness equipment uses an acceleration training method, where a balance platform vibrates 25 to 50 times a second. This sends waves of energy through the body that cause muscle contractions.

“What’s great about the Power Plate is that it works from the inside out, activating muscle tissue just by physically being on the plate, even without doing dynamic, moving exercises,” explains Power Institute co-founder Ron Das.

Shaking It Up

It’s not a huge effort to stand on the Power Plate. As co-founder and trainer Darryl Bodington hits the start button, a vibration runs up my feet, into my legs, hips and right to the top of my head. The vibration feels very smooth – perhaps a little weird at first – but not unpleasant.

Just as I’m getting used to the sensation, the real 30-minute workout begins with a variety of old-school functional movements like lunges, squats and push-ups using my own body weight – all while balancing on the plate, and my muscles fatigue quickly. Only minutes into the workout, my legs feel like they’re about to blow.

At the 20-minute mark, I’m drained, which is apparently a good sign. As we wrap up, the machine frequency is set for a deep, relaxing massage that helps tremendously with recovery. After I return for my fifth workout, I notice tone in my thighs and a lower-abs tightness I haven’t felt in years.

Encouraging research suggests the low-impact energy waves in acceleration training are particularly beneficial for seniors looking to regenerate muscles, improve balance, increase strength and flexibility, reduce pain, soreness and recover faster. For contraindications, Dr. Paul Dorian, director of the cardiology division at University of Toronto and a cardiologist at St Michael’s Hospital, advises people with recent heart failure, surgery or under the recent care of a cardiologist to discuss this first with their physician.

Dorian personally uses the Power Plate and sees a number of benefits. “Strength training by itself contributes to heart health more than we used to think,” says Dorian, “and this is a low-impact, safe, gentle approach to strength training after surgery.”

So after heart surgery, Bob Berman, then 57, turned to the Power Plate to get back into shape. “I had surgery December 2011 and started working out very gently with Darryl on Feb. 1, 2012. By that summer, I was practically back in shape and, in October, I ran a marathon. It’s a worthwhile form of exercise that has certainly helped me,” says Berman.

There’s also evidence that Power Plate training strengthens muscles and this protects the joints and reduces pain, adds Dorian. When Dr. Esther Gelcer, 70-something, discovered she was at risk of developing osteoporosis, “instead of taking medication, I started exercising three times a week with the folks at Power Institute on a regular basis,” she says. “Three years later, another bone density test was perfectly normal.

The doctor said my bones are like a teenager’s,” adds Gelcer. “Also my arthritic pain has mostly disappeared.” Find a Power Plate facility and certified trainer near you at www.powerplate.com.

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