words by Samantha Whitaker
At the moment, fitness regimes are all about getting more for less – time, that is. My last post, about Hiitgirl, showed how short sessions of high-intensity interval training is much more effective than spending hours in the gym. And at Movers & Shapers, which has seven boutique studios (five in London), the instructors promise to get you the body shape you want with just two 30-minute Power Plate classes a week, together with sensible nutrition advice and personal health monitoring.
Originally designed in the 1960s, to help Russian astronauts combat the effects of zero gravity, Power Plate vibration machines stimulate your muscles to contract and relax safely but rapidly – around 30 to 35 times a second compared to the usual once or twice. The result is a rapid improvement in muscle strength, blood circulation, flexibility and bone density, and a more effective reduction in visceral fat than other forms of exercise or dieting. In short, it’s efficient and effective – two words that we all love when it comes to fitting exercise into our busy lives. But people often approach a Power Plate with trepidation. After all, it’s a strange and unnerving sensation at first, the settings can be confusing and there is often just a large poster beside the machine showing a small range of static positions. This is where classes are vital, as trained instructors like those at Movers & Shapers have an arsenal of around 500 exercises that can be performed on the Power Plate – and they are inventing new ones all the time.
In the past, I’ve achieved excellent results using a Power Plate, so I was very keen to get back on one. The 30-minute class flew by as we moved quickly from one toning exercise to the next, always using a different muscle set to avoid fatigue but maintain the burn. And because the class size is small, everyone gets a bit of one-on-one attention. By the final minute – a gruelling deep squat holding a medicine ball between my thighs – I was gritting my teeth. But then followed a blissful two minutes of massage on a higher frequency to help flush out the lactic acid. Almost everyone can do a Power Plate class – in fact, Nicky Lopez, the Balham studio manager, used to train three 75-year-olds three times a week, who were just as fit and strong as their 20-year-old classmates.
I visited the Balham Movers & Shapers, in south London, which opened earlier this year and also offers circuits and cardio sessions in a separate studio as well as Power Plate. The following week, I returned for a circuits class (although clients often do classes back-to-back for a longer workout). After a warm up of rope-skipping for the longest two minutes of my life, my legs were like jelly and I was a bit scared. But, like in the Power Plate class, we moved quickly between exercises and muscle groups, using TRX, ViPR and Kettlebells as well as our own body weight. The cardio sessions take place on Keiser Striders, a new breed of cross-trainer that’s smoother and easier on your joints, and the class follows a similar format to a spinning class, with plenty of fast, high-impact intervals for maximum calorie burning. Clients can also connect a MyZone monitor to view their heart rate on a screen throughout the class, encouraging them to work even harder.
At Movers & Shapers, you have the choice of pay-as-you-go (in blocks of 12 or 24 classes), or all-inclusive monthly membership for a minimum or three or 12 months. There are no sign-up costs, and everyone receives a mini health MOT and regular one-to-one progress reviews. To find out more, visit moversandshapers.co.uk
Getting started on a Power Plate
- Have a session at Movers & Shapers, or one-to-one with a trained instructor, to learn how to use the Power Plate correctly in order to get the maximum benefits.
- Maintain a soft bend in the knees and elbows, and never lock your joints, as the vibrations will travel through bones rather than muscle resulting in a headache.
- Get the settings right: exercises should be performed at 30-35 hertz (the number of vibrations per second), and stretching or massaging at 40-50 hertz. At 30 hertz, your body will be working 30% harder than if there were no vibrations, but above 40 hertz your muscles won’t be able to respond to the faster speed so you won’t get the full benefit.