At lunchtime today a couple of colleagues and I went for a try-out session of PowerPlate. It's apparently the latest "thing" amongst celebs such as Maddy or Sadie Frost. The concept behind the plate is that it vibrates at up to 50 times a second, and this makes your muscles contract at the same frequency, giving them an intense workout. The end results (after several sessions) are a toned silhouette and less cellulite. And all this without having to actually exercise (all you do is squats or leg extensions), because the vibrating plate is putting your muscles through the equivalent of 1800 squats or ab crunches in just 1 minute.
Well, that's the hype. The truth is this: some of the positions are pretty hard to hold, even for just 60 seconds (especially if your abs are non-existent like mine!); because your muscles are contracting at such a high frequency, your body generates a lot of heat and you consequently get all sweaty (bleurk); it's expensive!
The best bit of the whole session was the massage at the end, where you just get to lie on your back with your thighs on the platform and it jiggles away your cellulite (hence the jelly - that was my thighs!), supposedly.
Having tried it, I certainly won't be forking out 200 and something euros for ten sessions (said to be the minimum required to see some results). Powerplate might give your muscles a workout but it's not cardio-training, so it's not actually bringing any real health benefits. And while you might work up a sweat, that's the only side effect of a "real" sports workout you'll notice. Because there's no cardio-pulmonary workout, you're not getting the oxygen rush and endorphin "high" you get from 40 minutes of RPM or step class. And isn't that the best part of sport? It's not the "look at my flab-free abs" and "be impressed at my 10k times", it's the buzz you get, even though you've worn yourself out. Powerplate can't do that.
Which all adds up to the (for some people inconvenient) truth that if you want to get in shape and stay healthy, a buzzing platform and some silly stretching positions are no substitute for a run round the park or a body pump class.
I'm off to renew my gym membership...