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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Strength training: Is EMS training too good to be true?

EMS is a training method that claims you don’t have to be active every day – all you need is 20 minutes a week. Is this too good to be true? Kath Hudson reports

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 4
Athletes are using EMS, from companies like miha, to enhance training
Athletes are using EMS, from companies like miha, to enhance training
EMS is not more effective than conventional exercise... but it is appealing to those who don’t like sport – Simon von Stengel

Already popular in Germany and embraced by many of its country’s Olympic athletes, a survey in that market showed that 40 per cent of respondents cite EMS (electronic muscle stimulation) as a fitness trend they’d like to try in 2017, at one of the country’s 1,300 studios.

Similar studios are already popping up in larger cities across the UK, but there’s still much education to be done before this market gets to the penetration levels of Germany. Nevertheless, suppliers believe that, once people start to see the benefits, the trend will take off, thanks to its appeal across the whole fitness spectrum. Serious athletes will use it to improve performance, while those who hate exercise will use it as an easy way to shape up.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Simply put, a finely tuned electrical impulse is sent to the muscle telling it to contract; it feels like a vibration, not a shock. As a result, the muscles gain muscle mass, which leads to an increase in strength and power.

Specific muscle groups can be worked on, which means it can also be used as a rehab tool. “It’s a method that started its life in medical therapy,” explains Daniel Bambach, spokesperson for EMS supplier miha. In this context, EMS has been used to keep bodies alive after accidents, and has even been used on people in comas.

Another supplier, Easy Motion Skin, is keen to target the disabled market and has just signed high-profile skier Heather Mills as an ambassador. “Heather finds it hard to train her left leg, which is partially amputated, but EMS can address the imbalance,” explains Jan Ising, EMS professional at Easy Motion Skin. EMS is used more on her left leg than her right to build strength and strike a better balance in her body.

But EMS has also moved out of the medical and rehab environment and into elite sports, with athletes such as Usain Bolt and Bayern Munich FC recognising the impact the technology can have on power, strength and speed.

Studies have shown improvements across a wide range of measures among professional sports people, including a 4.8 per cent improvement in the sprint time of ice hockey players over 10m (Brocherie et al). Meanwhile, in freestyle swimming, a 1.3 per cent improvement in 25m times and 1.45 per cent for 50m have been recorded following EMS training (Pichon et al).

HIGH SPEED WORKOUT
And now the technology is moving into health clubs, as Bambach explains: “We’re seeing year-on-year growth in the private fitness market – and that’s because it works, as well as adding differentiation to a health club’s offering.” To back up his claims, he references a study that found untrained people using EMS combined with isokinetic training increased muscle size by 10 per cent over eight weeks.

Meanwhile, Ising points to research that highlights the efficacy of an EMS workout: “If you do an intense 30 minutes on the cross-trainer, wearing the device, it’s the equivalent of a four-hour strength workout.”

THE SCIENCE
Simon von Stengel, CEO of the training centre at the Institute of Medical Physics, Erlangen University, has conducted research into EMS and rates the technique as a way to increase muscle mass without loading the joints, as well as reducing body fat – especially in the abdominal region – and gaining strength and power.

“One study showed it can increase strength by 30 per cent in 12 weeks,” he says. “It can also activate the fast-twitch muscle fibres, which are difficult to activate, especially at lower intensity.”

But it doesn’t necessarily beat other forms of exercise – even in its heartland of strength training. One study compared EMS to HIIT in 30- to 50-year-old males. Over 16 weeks, one group did EMS for 30 minutes a week and another group did one hour of HIIT a week. Both saw significant improvements in strength, but the results were fairly even: a 10.5 per cent improvement in back strength for HIIT, and 12 per cent for EMS; and 14 per cent versus 8 per cent improvements in leg extension strength.

“This suggests that EMS is effective, but not more effective than conventional exercise. And it doesn’t have the other benefits exercise can have, such as improving stamina or co-ordination,” observes von Stengel.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
So is the claim – that one 20-minute session a week is all people need to do to improve their health – confusing?

It’s certainly a far cry from the 5 x 30 minutes currently recommended in the UK – and while EMS suppliers have a large body of research to show that the technology can be effective in helping people lose weight and build muscle and strength, there are many other benefits of physical exercise that EMS can’t rival: improvements in co-ordination, stamina and cardiovascular among them.

But as von Stengel explains: “EMS is appealing to those who don’t like sport, especially older people.”

And this is perhaps the point: EMS isn’t only for elite athletes and the highly motivated who want to use it to boost their results. If you’re a sedentary individual who isn’t particularly interested in exercising, EMS – with its quick and comparatively pain-free results – might just appeal to you where other forms of activity won’t. That arguably makes it a good starting point for those not yet engaged with the gym – a way of getting new people through the doors of your club or leisure centre.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
German EMS studio brand Bodystreet launched in the UK in July 2016
German EMS studio brand Bodystreet launched in the UK in July 2016
Easy Motion Skin can be used by able-bodied and disabled people alike
Easy Motion Skin can be used by able-bodied and disabled people alike
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/898737_711539.jpg
EMS is a training method that claims you don't have to be active every day – all you need is 20 minutes a week. Is this too good to be true?
People
HCM people

Dave Courteen

MD and co-founder of Mosaic Spa and Health Clubs
I set myself the goal that if I found someone famous to write the foreword and a publisher, then I would write the book
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Dan Bond

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We’d explained leading up to the lockdown that if everyone decided to freeze or cancel, then there would be a possibility of not having a gym to come back to
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Click on a catalogue to view it online
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features

Strength training: Is EMS training too good to be true?

EMS is a training method that claims you don’t have to be active every day – all you need is 20 minutes a week. Is this too good to be true? Kath Hudson reports

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 4
Athletes are using EMS, from companies like miha, to enhance training
Athletes are using EMS, from companies like miha, to enhance training
EMS is not more effective than conventional exercise... but it is appealing to those who don’t like sport – Simon von Stengel

Already popular in Germany and embraced by many of its country’s Olympic athletes, a survey in that market showed that 40 per cent of respondents cite EMS (electronic muscle stimulation) as a fitness trend they’d like to try in 2017, at one of the country’s 1,300 studios.

Similar studios are already popping up in larger cities across the UK, but there’s still much education to be done before this market gets to the penetration levels of Germany. Nevertheless, suppliers believe that, once people start to see the benefits, the trend will take off, thanks to its appeal across the whole fitness spectrum. Serious athletes will use it to improve performance, while those who hate exercise will use it as an easy way to shape up.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Simply put, a finely tuned electrical impulse is sent to the muscle telling it to contract; it feels like a vibration, not a shock. As a result, the muscles gain muscle mass, which leads to an increase in strength and power.

Specific muscle groups can be worked on, which means it can also be used as a rehab tool. “It’s a method that started its life in medical therapy,” explains Daniel Bambach, spokesperson for EMS supplier miha. In this context, EMS has been used to keep bodies alive after accidents, and has even been used on people in comas.

Another supplier, Easy Motion Skin, is keen to target the disabled market and has just signed high-profile skier Heather Mills as an ambassador. “Heather finds it hard to train her left leg, which is partially amputated, but EMS can address the imbalance,” explains Jan Ising, EMS professional at Easy Motion Skin. EMS is used more on her left leg than her right to build strength and strike a better balance in her body.

But EMS has also moved out of the medical and rehab environment and into elite sports, with athletes such as Usain Bolt and Bayern Munich FC recognising the impact the technology can have on power, strength and speed.

Studies have shown improvements across a wide range of measures among professional sports people, including a 4.8 per cent improvement in the sprint time of ice hockey players over 10m (Brocherie et al). Meanwhile, in freestyle swimming, a 1.3 per cent improvement in 25m times and 1.45 per cent for 50m have been recorded following EMS training (Pichon et al).

HIGH SPEED WORKOUT
And now the technology is moving into health clubs, as Bambach explains: “We’re seeing year-on-year growth in the private fitness market – and that’s because it works, as well as adding differentiation to a health club’s offering.” To back up his claims, he references a study that found untrained people using EMS combined with isokinetic training increased muscle size by 10 per cent over eight weeks.

Meanwhile, Ising points to research that highlights the efficacy of an EMS workout: “If you do an intense 30 minutes on the cross-trainer, wearing the device, it’s the equivalent of a four-hour strength workout.”

THE SCIENCE
Simon von Stengel, CEO of the training centre at the Institute of Medical Physics, Erlangen University, has conducted research into EMS and rates the technique as a way to increase muscle mass without loading the joints, as well as reducing body fat – especially in the abdominal region – and gaining strength and power.

“One study showed it can increase strength by 30 per cent in 12 weeks,” he says. “It can also activate the fast-twitch muscle fibres, which are difficult to activate, especially at lower intensity.”

But it doesn’t necessarily beat other forms of exercise – even in its heartland of strength training. One study compared EMS to HIIT in 30- to 50-year-old males. Over 16 weeks, one group did EMS for 30 minutes a week and another group did one hour of HIIT a week. Both saw significant improvements in strength, but the results were fairly even: a 10.5 per cent improvement in back strength for HIIT, and 12 per cent for EMS; and 14 per cent versus 8 per cent improvements in leg extension strength.

“This suggests that EMS is effective, but not more effective than conventional exercise. And it doesn’t have the other benefits exercise can have, such as improving stamina or co-ordination,” observes von Stengel.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
So is the claim – that one 20-minute session a week is all people need to do to improve their health – confusing?

It’s certainly a far cry from the 5 x 30 minutes currently recommended in the UK – and while EMS suppliers have a large body of research to show that the technology can be effective in helping people lose weight and build muscle and strength, there are many other benefits of physical exercise that EMS can’t rival: improvements in co-ordination, stamina and cardiovascular among them.

But as von Stengel explains: “EMS is appealing to those who don’t like sport, especially older people.”

And this is perhaps the point: EMS isn’t only for elite athletes and the highly motivated who want to use it to boost their results. If you’re a sedentary individual who isn’t particularly interested in exercising, EMS – with its quick and comparatively pain-free results – might just appeal to you where other forms of activity won’t. That arguably makes it a good starting point for those not yet engaged with the gym – a way of getting new people through the doors of your club or leisure centre.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
German EMS studio brand Bodystreet launched in the UK in July 2016
German EMS studio brand Bodystreet launched in the UK in July 2016
Easy Motion Skin can be used by able-bodied and disabled people alike
Easy Motion Skin can be used by able-bodied and disabled people alike
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/898737_711539.jpg
EMS is a training method that claims you don't have to be active every day – all you need is 20 minutes a week. Is this too good to be true?
Latest News
Industry body, ukactive, has questioned the decision to close gyms and health clubs as part ...
Latest News
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has paid a surprise visit to a branch of The Gym ...
Latest News
Planet Fitness' share price on the New York Stock Exchange has remained steady at between ...
Latest News
Two of the largest health club operators in the US have announced that members and ...
Latest News
If you're a personal trainer working in the UK, you can now get online PT ...
Latest News
A member of SAGE, the government’s independent group of scientific advisers, has said gyms, pubs ...
Latest News
Following approval to build a £250mn wellbeing resort in Manchester, Therme Group has revealed plans ...
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Opinion
promotion
Data-driven businesses are some of today’s greatest global success stories, providing blueprints for success.
Opinion: Up your ‘data game’ to successfully relaunch your fitness business
Opinion
promotion
Evidence suggests that over many years personal trainers have been forced to leave the fitness industry because employment patterns are erratic, earnings are inconsistent and it is difficult to build up value needed to secure an appropriate lifestyle.
Opinion: Personal trainers need support as employment opportunities diminish: FREE on-demand webinar
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Digital education: TRX trains more than 14,000 professionals for free using live virtual training
In response to the pandemic, TRX, the global leader in functional training equipment, world- class training content, and app-based training technology, transformed its TRX Suspension Training Course into a free, live virtual edition via Zoom.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Gympass partners with F45 Training to bring functional team training to world's largest corporate fitness platform
Gympass, the world’s largest corporate fitness platform, has announced a partnership with F45 Training, one of the world’s fastest-growing fitness franchisors that will give its corporate members access to their global network of workout facilities.
Video Gallery
BMF with Bear Grylls - Mission to reboot the fitness industry
British Military Fitness
BMF with Bear Grylls has put up a £1m fund to get personal trainers, fitness instructors and class instructors back to work and earning money. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Life Fitness
Through our Life Fitness Solutions Partners, we can deliver design and build services, finance solutions, ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Incorpore Limited
Incorpore Ltd is a leading fitness and wellness company which has been successfully delivering solutions ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Direct debit solutions
Harlands Group: Direct debit solutions
Locking solutions
Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Exercise equipment
Technogym: Exercise equipment
Management software
Fisikal: Management software
Fitness software
Go Do.Fitness: Fitness software
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Property & Tenders
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
22-23 Sep 2020
Heythrop Park, United Kingdom
Diary dates
17-23 Oct 2020
Pinggu, Beijing, China
Diary dates
03-06 Nov 2020
Online,
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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