Exercisers picking up good vibrations

Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:34am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - There's a whole lot of shaking going on in gyms these days.

The machines responsible may look like locker room scales on steroids, and the idea of using them to jiggle the flab away may seem a bit wacky. But experts, celebrities and true believers say that squatting and pressing atop these vibrating platforms can perk up tired bodies and ignite weary workouts.

"Vibration training improves muscle tone and increases core body temperature because it allows for stimulation of the neurological system," David Harris, director of personal training for the Equinox Fitness, said in an interview.

Over 100 gyms in the United States and more than 80 countries worldwide feature the vibrating platforms, according to Patty Stapleton, spokesperson for Power Plate, the California-based company which manufactures them.

Model and television presenter Heidi Klum, actors Clint Eastwood and George Clooney, and entertainers P-Diddy and Madonna are among its celebrity users, according to the company.

"Many people are using the machines to improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness," Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE), said in an interview.

"There is quite a bit of research from Europe and United States to support some of the benefits," said Comana, who teaches at the University of California at San Diego.

The principles of whole-body vibration therapy were originally developed for the Russian space program to combat the degenerating effects of zero gravity on muscle and bone.   Continued...

<p>Clients work out on machines at the Bally Total Fitness facility in Arvada, Colorado June 15, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>