Bodytec is a relatively new strength training class based on electro muscle stimulation (EMS). One of the main drawing points to this exercise class is that it only takes 20 minutes and, according to the folk at Bodytec, equals hours of strength training.
What is EMS?
Bodytec in South Africa started in 2010 and the technology is based on commercial EMS studios that have been operating in Europe since 2007 (while it’s not yet mainstream in South Africa, the instructors at the Centurion branch tell me it’s a popular type of exercise in Germany).
EMS stands for “Electro Muscular Stimulation”. When you do a class, you’re kitted out in a black shirt, ski pants and what looks like a wire-filled wet-suit, which is plugged into the EMS machine that sends impulse currents through your body. Here’s a bit more information on EMS training.
The studios are modern and there are only two spots per class so it’s very personalised. The machine doesn’t feel like it’s ‘shocking’ you, but rather sending gentle pulses (I’d describe it as a heavy-duty massage feeling) while you do relatively easy exercises like squats, side stretches and lunges. It’s a weird feeling at first but you get used to it within minutes.
I’ve tried other type of ‘passive exercising’ before, like using a Power Plate, but it never actually felt like that type of thing works. I went for four classes at the Centurion Bodytec studio and I couldn’t believe how stiff I felt after the first session. The instructor told me that I’d probably feel stiff after a few days but seeing as it didn’t really feel like I was exerting myself, I didn’t really take her seriously (after three days I had trouble sitting and walking so she was definitely right about being stiff!).
The target market for Bodytec is busy executives so while it’s more expensive than a gym membership or personal trainer, they reckon you will be getting your money’s worth considering the amount of time you will save (20min a week versus hours in the gym strength training). An individual session is R650 but it gets cheaper if you book a longer contract (R225 per session if you take a 12 month contract, for example). Bodytec is also a Discovery Vitality partner and you will earn 150 Vitality points per session.
There are 20 studios in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal and new studios are opening in Brooklyn (Pretoria), Durbanville (Cape Town) and Bryanston (Johannesburg) early in 2015.