Madonna has always been on the cutting edge in her workouts. Among other things, she does yoga and Pilates to stay in shape, and over the years she’s happily mixed it up to keep challenging herself and take it to the next level.
Madonna’s current new craze is using a Power Plate®. She actually owns one of these machines, which go for $3,500 for a home unit and as much as $9,250 for a health club model. Power Plate’s claim is that by standing on it three times per week for a mere 10 minutes, you’ll develop sleek sculpted muscles.
Other celebrities who have testified of the Power Plate’s benefits are Sting, Hillary Swank, Clint Eastwood, and Serena Williams. Even professional sports teams like the Chicago Bulls and the Green Bay Packers have incorporated it into the exercise routines of their players.
So why does this 10-minute machine work when other gadgets that have promoted similar results in the same amount of time have always been “too good to be true”?
I’ve been on a Power Plate several times and it delivers a pretty intense workout. The company describes the machine as “creat[ing] instability in the human body, as with each vibration, the body is forced to perform reflexive muscle actions, multiple times per second. Furthermore, these contractions must work in multiple dimensions as the Power Plate machines actually oscillate in all three planes, exactly as the human body is designed to do. The net result is an incredible improvement in force production, or strength and power.”
Here’s how I translate the last paragraph: it shakes the shit out of you. Your teeth literally rattle. It’s an intense workout, but I wonder — actually I worry — about the long term effects of the Power Plate on your body. You hold onto the bars and go into a position, like a squat, and then turn the machine on for a set period of time, say 60 seconds. Or you have your feet off the side and hold a plank position with your hands on the vibrating platform. You can also move through a range of motion, going up and down in the squat or push-up positions. Pretty much whatever you do with a regular resistance training program, you can duplicated with a Power Plate.
The origins of this machine comes from the Russian Olympic training program from the 1960s. The Soviets expended a great deal of money and time crafting better athletes and they came up with this vibrating platform as one way to do it. The basic idea was athletes would perform their usual exercises on the platform, but because the platform was shaking so strongly, their muscles would be challenged and quickly fatigue.
Power Plate training takes less time and has a greater toning effect than just doing the exercises on a solid surface. The company literature suggested three times per week for 10 minutes as a good workout plan.
Research has also suggested that the machine can be helpful with osteoporosis, arthritis and fibromyalgia. In these cases, an individual would simply stand on the platform for a brief period of time and let the vibrations work, gradually building up to longer times and simple exercises.
I almost bought the $9,000 machine for my studio, because I was compelled by the research for osteoporosis. It’s the number one health issue my clients have and the studies were strongest for suggesting the Power Plate could help reverse the effects of osteo.
But there were two reasons why I finally didn’t do it:
1. The vibrations on this machine are so strong that if it’s not placed on concrete floors you are actually causing wear and tear issues on your home. Yes, really.
2. I have a client who is a medical doctor and she had also tried the Power Plate a few times. Ultimately she stopped because, as she put it, “You’re not just vibrating bones and muscles, you’re also vibrating soft tissue, like your heart and your eyeballs. I don’t know what the long term effects of that are and I don’t want to be the guinea pig.”
That was enough for me; I’m taking a wait-and-see approach. I’d like a little more research on the machine’s positives and I’d like to make sure my organs can survive that level of shaking over the long haul.
Thoughts? Have you tried the Power Plate? What did you think?