The Power Plate craze has landed in Shanghai. For those of you who haven't heard of this new exercise gadget, well, it looks like a standard piece of gym equipment except that it incorporates a 'vibration device'. That means you can stand, sit or lie on the plate while it transmits waves of energy throughout your body, causing your muscles to contract between 25 and 50 times per second. This effect is equivalent to a 60-minute workout in only 30 minutes, which makes it perfect for the urbanite on-the-go.
Alternately called Whole Body Vibration or Acceleration Training, an early version was developed in the late 19th century. It underwent considerable refinement in the late 1970s, as part of the exercise regime designed for Russian cosmonauts. Indeed, Russian scientists discovered that vibration training counteracted the loss of bone density and muscle that resulted from prolonged periods in space. Later, Russian ballet dancers found it could help them jump higher and recover from injuries caused by jumping too high. From the USSR, the system swiftly spread to the US and Europe, where space agencies, hospitals and rehabilitation clinics began utilizing its benefits.
In 1999, a machine was built for the fitness sector. Since then, Power Plate studios have proliferated, as has the system's celebrity appeal. Madonna has several machines in her home gyms, and it's said that Claudia Schiffer and Natalie Imbruglia owe their gorgeous figures to its vibrations. In fact, women are particularly drawn to the regimen because of its ability to decrease cellulite and stimulate the metabolism, in addition to increasing muscle strength and flexibility.
In 2006, the first Power Plate studio in Asia, Movers and Shapers, opened in Hong Kong. Recently, they opened their first branch on the Chinese mainland in Guangzhou, and plan to open one in Shanghai and Beijing later this year. Meanwhile, The Enerzone Wellness Studio in Zhongshan Park already caters to Shanghaiese Power Plate converts with three machines, and has expansion plans of its own in the city and beyond.
Enerzone owner Frank Qin recommends that clients come at least two or three times a week and says the effects are obvious after 12 sessions. The studio has a certified trainer to ensure you get the most from your workout, and that you don't vibrate out of control. (Be warned: the effect can be a bit disorienting at first, not to mention a lot tougher than it looks.)
Keep in mind that Power Plate does not offer a cardio workout in the strictest sense of the term (although you will definitely work up a sweat). As such, it's best to maintain a cardio routine on the days you don't use Power Plate. By the way, it can also provide an excellent full body massage to help your muscles recover after your workout.
Enerzone Wellness Studio: 1555 Dingxi Lu, by Changning Lu (6552 6626)