Put on this scuba-like suit filled with electrodes and be ready for a tingling, buzzing sensation in your muscles! This sensation is caused by a medical device that is the first to be approved for general fitness. The device, called E-Fit, uses Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) technology that “can reach the deepest muscle fibers” to help you gain strength and get in shape faster, according to Personal20 Co-founder and Executive Director Connie Ruiz. But is it safe?
“In 20 minutes, you receive all the results of a 90-minute workout. Why? What it's doing is it's giving a strength training workout without an impact on the joints, and it's turning on what we call our fast twitch muscle fibers. And that is body shaping. Now, you can turn on your fast twitch muscle fibers when you're in the gym doing strength training, but you have to hit fatigue, and you have to do a lot of weights, and then you have to have the right technique, and you have got to get to the right amount of weight to hit your fatigue, so you're doing a lot of reps,” said Ruiz. “Thanks to technology, the impulse is actually going down into the muscle fibers and it's activating them quicker. Hence, you're getting that quick workout. And in 20 minutes, you're getting 36,000 muscle contractions on your whole body. Now, in a traditional workout, you would need to hit fatigue on each muscle group, and it would take you about 90 minutes to get there before you'd have so many muscle contractions.”
The EMS method is perfect for people with injuries, people preparing for hip, knee or shoulder surgeries, or people who are simply busy.
“I had one client, he'd had four back surgeries, and he liked this workout so much. He said it felt so good to be able to work out hard again and strong again on his muscles, without putting any undue or unnecessary stress on the back, the knees and shoulders. And then we have a lot of clients that come to us with back pain, because exercise is good for back pain, but thanks to the technology we can reach the deepest muscle fibers along the core. That can be hard to target with traditional exercise, so they really get the benefit of contracting all those muscles in hard-to-reach places. That's why it's called Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS).”
Personal20 was co-founded by Connie and Pedro Ruiz in Portugal, where it operates as a franchise system. Ruiz and her husband are not new to the fitness industry; they have traditional fitness businesses but when they were in Portugal, her husband got interested in starting another business using EMS method. Ruiz was skeptical in the beginning, but then she decided to check the technology out: “So, I went undercover. I did it once a week for four weeks, and at the end of that, I was amazed with the results. I had definition in my arms I'd never had, I even lost four pounds, and I gave up all my other exercise just to do this. Just to really see what the technology could deliver. I was so impressed. I said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is such a good idea. I would like to be one of the first to take it to America,’” Ruiz continued: “This location here [13037 Worldgate Drive, Herndon] is the showcase and the first location here in the United States, although in Portugal, it's already with 10 units and there's one in Abu Dhabi, and in Qatar, and so there's a few around the world already.”
Back to the question of how safe this technology is:
“It's been around for many years. It started in rehab settings; then it moved to professional athletes, because when they're injured, they need to recover as soon as possible, and it's with professional athletes that they saw strength and stamina improvements that were amazing. So, from that, it became a trend for the rest of us in fitness. So, it's as beneficial as any strength training. It's just the technology allowing it to be on the whole body at the same time, although you fatigue each muscle group individually.”
It is important to mention that this technology is not for people with pacemakers, heart disease, cancer, or people with a predisposition to epileptic seizures or fitting or pregnant women.
Ruiz recommends twice-weekly sessions for ideal results, but some people are already active with fitness, so they come once a week to enhance their training, she said. “It's always going to depend on somebody's goals and objectives.”