Rachel Grunwell is a fitness writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Fitness challenge: Vibration training

Each week intrepid reporter Rachel Grunwell will try out a new form of exercise to bring you the lowdown.

Fleur Bromley gets in some vibration training at The Exercise Room. Photo / Doug Sherring
Fleur Bromley gets in some vibration training at The Exercise Room. Photo / Doug Sherring

What is it? Vibration training is short bursts of exercise similar to what you may do at the gym, but carried out on a vibrating plate. So it makes you shake, rattle and get rid of the rolls.

What's needed? Gym gear, water bottle.

The experience: I'm at The Exercise Room, a boutique gym just steps away from Parnell's vibrant village of cool shops, cafes and restaurants. It's a place where members use a swipe card to enter any hour of the day or night and the membership is capped at 250. There are TVs on the walls so you can watch your favourite show while you sweat and then shower in hotel-like single-user bathrooms.

I meet my trainer, who asks to be called "the trainer" for this write-up. He says "everything is discreet in this gym". This immediately makes one suspicious celebrities could be about in their trackies. But "the trainer" will only smile when I'm cheeky enough to ask.

He tells me The Exercise Room is built on an overall personal-health approach, so sessions with personal trainers and a nutritionist area built into the membership. It's about getting fitter and healthier.

"The trainer" sits me down for a chat, asking things such as my age, ability, lifestyle, if I have any ailments, or exercise preferences and whether I'm susceptible to having a heart attack. It's about tailoring the vibration training for the person and he gives lifestyle tips, too - when he finds out I have a 10-month-old baby, he gives advice on how to use my bonny lad as an 8kg weight to build great biceps.

I have to confess I'm suspicious of vibration training and wonder if it's just a gimmick. "The trainer" has an extensive background in health, fitness and physio and tells me he's a believer. He reckons people just need to think of it as another "tool" to keep their workouts interesting. The machine vibrates even the smaller muscles (or what he calls the "fast-twitch muscles") for a full resistance-training workout. People tire quicker, work out harder and, importantly, for a shorter time (so it's good for corporates doing lunch-time workouts). "The trainer" boasts: "I can get some people to work out for 30 minutes and leave them feeling like they've just done a three-hour run."

So the workout begins. I'm doing push-ups (my jowl wobbles), tricep pushes (my arms jiggle) and knee lifts on the vibrating plate (I look unco while I try to balance). They're just standard gym exercises, but the vibrating plate makes all my muscles wiggle and wobble too. It's weird at the outset, but I soon get used to the sensation and then concentrate on doing the exercises properly.

"The trainer" picks up that I have a weaker right side because I favour the left. He shows me how to exercise properly so I can become more aligned. He has personalised the workout, too, by giving me exercises that I like, from information he gleaned from our chat earlier. After the leg exercises, we both powered off for a run around the block.

"The trainer" ends the session with some physio on my back, making me more aligned and relaxed, while reminding me about the tips he's just taught me. Vibration training is a bit whacky, but does give you a great workout.

How much? Unlimited vibration training at The Exercise Room is $15 a week (12 months) or $18 a week (six months). Or you can add it to the gym membership (which costs from $23.95 weekly depending on the plan) from $7 weekly.

Worth it? Promoted benefits include body shaping and toning, cellulite reduction, reduced back pain and improved bone density and muscle strength. So am I a believer? Well, all I can say is a couple of days later I felt muscles burn.

Try it: The Exercise Room is at 3 Akaroa St, Parnell, ph (09) 307 2080, or check out theexerciseroom.co.nz

Rating? 8/10

- Herald on Sunday

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