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EMS training: The futuristic 20

Jul 04, 2023

Going to the gym can be a slog. Not only are you actually expected to exercise, but you also have to navigate the throngs of GymShark-clad grunters dominating the weights section, while somehow not looking like a total muppet yourself.

It's no wonder people often consider the gym to be an intimidating place. There's even a term to describe the feeling of nervousness or anxiety that many people associate with weight racks and ellipticals: 'Gymtimidation'.

According to The Conversation, one survey found as many as 50 percent of Americans have reported feeling gymtimidation, while another UK survey found one in four women have experienced the same daunting anxiety while working out.

Although exercising at home is a good alternative, not everyone feels experienced enough to take on the task of achieving a honed physique in the comfort of their bedroom. Some find exercising alone unmotivating, but still struggle with the prospect of pumping weights in front of others. Plus, many people are keen to avoid traditional gyms amid the ongoing outbreak of the Omicron variant.

However, a new form of exercise may put paid to those endless worries - meaning no more excuses not to work out. EMS - electro muscle stimulation training - could be the best-kept secret to achieving results without hours of dedication.

EMS, a form of strength training that originated in Europe, has steadily been gaining popularity overseas. The exercise, which is touted as a highly effective workout without the sweat, has amassed a legion of high-profile followers - including Usain Bolt, Heidi Klum, Madonna, Roger Federer and Cristiano Ronaldo - and has been used to improve the performance of professional athletes since 2008.

In a nutshell, the form of strength training uses low-frequency electric impulses to activate up to 90 percent of the body's muscles, making it an intense and challenging workout that is purely based on body weight and functional exercises. Due to the advanced technology, EMS takes just 20 minutes to deliver a high-intensity workout, equating to roughly 90 minutes spent in a traditional gym.

Experienced personal trainers create a bespoke session tailored to the individual's needs, with only one or two workouts recommended per week to improve both physical and mental wellbeing. Health benefits are said to include strength gain, weight loss, toning, improved posture, back-pain relief and enhanced performance in other sports.

It's also a naturally socially distanced workout, with only two people able to be trained at one time - you're in and out within half-and-hour, without even breaking a sweat.

And while the unique workout is making waves overseas, EMS training is also available to try in New Zealand. Boutique fitness studio fu/nis, which specialises in EMS, launched on central Auckland's Shortland Street in 2016 with the goal of helping busy Aucklanders look after their health and wellbeing in just 20 minutes per week. The studio has recently opened a second location on Auckland's North Shore, which founder and managing director Catrina Kuehler attributes to growing demand for the time-efficient and effective form of exercise.

With no base level of fitness required to participate in the training, EMS is suitable for everyone, from fair weather runners to athletes to couch potatoes, she claims.

"When I first discovered EMS, I knew that this was a really revolutionary style of exercise that could completely transform the way people feel about fitness," says Kuehler.

"We are so excited to introduce the benefits to more Kiwis."

In our fast-paced lives dominated by work, friends and family, it can be difficult to prioritise lunch, let alone exercise. Kuehler says EMS training can be a great solution for those who are looking to reclaim a work-life balance, or are wanting to try a form of effective exercise that easily slots into their weekly schedule.

"You can be in and out in 30 minutes... making it more convenient than ever to prioritise their health," Kuehler says.

"Physical exercise makes up just one part of overall wellbeing, and the efficiency of EMS gives people the freedom to enjoy more of other forms of self-care."

Fu/nis co-owner Kelly Percy, who spent 10 years as a personal trainer, says EMS has revolutionised her approach to exercise.

"Fitness has played a massive part in balancing my mind, body and soul, and I spent a decade personal training five days a week," Percy says. "When I discovered EMS it was unbelievable to comprehend that just two 20 minute workouts a week could yield the same outcomes."

While fu/nis has cultivated a reputation as the go-to studio for EMS, there are other options available - however, most are situated in the Auckland area. For the truly time-conscious, certified EMS training coach Amelie from Peech Fitness also offers EMS training, and travels to you if you live in Tāmaki Makaurau. Electro muscle stimulators can also be purchased online.