A REVIEW OF LONDON’S EXERCEO TRAINING
Normally I write about ocean research and exploration, so this post is not the norm and in general I’d like to leave fitness blogging to actual fitness bloggers. That said, staying in shape is part of what enables me to <live underwater>, <dive to 100m>, and <sail across the Atlantic>, plus I was interested in the technology to see if it might add to underwater virtual reality experiences -- more on that later. For now, here’s my take on Exerceo Training.
I tried what’s called Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) at Exerceo Training in London. The idea is that you wear a suit that zaps (i.e., “conducts electrical currents to”) your muscles as you exercise, supposedly making your workout eight times as effective.
It sounds gimmicky, but my friend, Madhu Ramankutty, and I found ourselves wearing their suits after another friend, now an employee of the company, raved about their workouts.
A session at Exerceo (Latin for “exercise”) consists of 25-minutes with a personal trainer who fits you into the suit and leads you through exercises. A sizable multicore cable, just like the kind we use on robots, trailed off each suit, connecting it to a controller that our trainer operated.
Before the suit went live, I felt a tiny bit anxious. It didn’t help that I had images of <Steven McRae’s Instagrams> from The Royal Ballet’s <Frankenstein> in my head. Our trainer kept us both at ease, however, as she powered on our suits muscle-by-muscle.
It felt like an intensified version of the sensation you feel when you wake-up sleeping legs – an intense tingling, not the vibration I was expecting. It’s your muscles micro-twitching. I’m not sure how else to describe it. It’s certainly cool. Matt Rudd of The Sunday Times described the feeling more violently, “like being stabbed with a thousand pins.” I’d say he overdramatized the sensation. <Fitness Instagrammer @iona_ldnr> describes it more cheerfully: “It feels like your muscles are being pummeled by little hammers, but in a good way!!”
Image from coachmag.co.uk
My arm automatically moved a few inches when my bicep band activated the first time. “So it’s electrocuting you?” a friend asked. Not really; “electrocuting” implies injury. It does, however, apply electric current to your muscles. Exerceo says it’s totally harmless unless you’ve a pacemaker, severe circulatory disorder, or are pregnant. You’re getting hit with a minuscule current: “It takes only five-millionths of an amp to maximally contract the quad,” <one article explains>.
During your workout, e.g., while doing crunches or mountain climbers, you can ask the trainer, “more abs please,” and she’ll crank up the power there on you. And you feel it.
Ordinarily such a short workout, 25 minutes, wouldn’t get me tired or sweaty. This did. Afterwards I felt like I’d done an hour workout at least. I wasn’t sore the next day, although my friend was. This may have been because I’d just recovered from intense soreness after running the Seven Sisters cliffs earlier in the week.
Is this the future of exercise? I’d say it’s the future for those who want to squeeze an hour workout into 25 minutes. The technology has been around since the 60s, however, so one might think if it was the future it would’ve happened already. As with any effective exercise regimen, the trick is to stick with it and supplement it with a healthy diet. It’s not a miracle. It could also be an effective lunch-break exercise for those genuinely time-limited. There are other lunch-break exercise classes out there. A hot yoga studio I use to attend advertised hour-long “power lunch” classes, but you really need to take-off two hours for those to account for commuting, showering, changing, etc., so Exerceo has a definite advantage there.
And in case you’re wondering, I don’t think the technology is right for virtual reality experiences just yet. But it was a good workout!