Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), your trusty, beloved Manduu workout method, has been getting some national publicity lately! In case you missed it, both Good Morning America and the Wallstreet Journal have featured reports on your favorite workout modality. While we love to see EMS gaining some popularity (“any publicity is good publicity” – Jason Ritzen, Manduu CEO), there is a clear lack of understanding and education around this “latest trend”. When I came on board with Manduu a year and a half ago, I completed the full training course designed by Manduu America & E-Fit (the company that manufacturers the equipment that Manduu uses) to become a Certified Manduu Trainer; therefore, I am confident that I know more about EMS than GMA’s medical correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, and Wallstreet Journal’s Betsy Morris, so I thought it would be a good idea to clear up a few things.
Both outlets make an (inappropriate) reference to electricity when introducing the exercise. GMA calls it an “‘electrifying’ exercise trend” and WSJ’s headline reads “Would You Zap Yourself with Electricity To Get In Shape?”. While we are current driven (current = flow of electricity), someone who is unaware of how Manduu actually works, would likely be turned off when the terms “electricity” and “zap” are used in conjunction with exercise. We don’t use terminology that implies that we are zapping or electrifying a client – we are safely sending impulses to the muscle, in fact we’re FDA cleared. The machines are not plugged into the wall, rather they are operated by a charged battery so there is no risk of any dangerous or painful “zap”. On a similar note, you cannot be burned, although both reports mention this as a risk of doing an EMS workout. At worst, a client may experience a bit of a stinging sensation if their skin is dry – trainers inform clients of this beforehand, and the stinging can always be rectified by simply spraying some water over the area. Again, this is nothing that will cause damage – it’s just a bit of very mild, very temporary discomfort.
GMA and WSJ each name severe muscle damage (rhabdoMYOLYSIS, not rhabdoMYALYSIS, as it was referred to with such scientific accuracy by a certain doctor) as a warning against exercising with EMS. A study referenced in the WSJ article claims that EMS has been related to at least 7 cases of rhabdomyolysis in Europe. I’m not entirely sure how these individuals ended up with rhabdo, but I can name a couple things that more than likely contributed to this:
–dehydration/not (re)hydrating after the workout (Manduu trainers always harp on the importance of hydrating prior to and after the workout, as well as the importance of refraining from alcohol or excessive caffeine as that only exacerbates dehydration)
–overtraining/lack of recovery (Manduu clients must complete 4 sessions, each spaced 5-7 days apart, to ensure full recovery and allow the muscles to adapt to this kind of exercise; once adapted, clients still must wait 24-48 hours between sessions – our app won’t even let a client schedule their session any sooner!)
–lack of proper nutrients (while an insufficient amount of protein won’t typically increase risk for rhabdomyolysis, protein does play a major role in repairing broken down muscle tissue; Manduu trainers strongly urge clients to ingest 20-30 grams of protein shortly after a workout)
I’m certainly not calling out these European companies for doing something wrong or for not caring about their clients, but it’s a great opportunity to point out what we do to ensure that our clients do not have to worry about such injury.
The news outlets also touch on the dangers of training with EMS under specific medical conditions. They warn against working out while pregnant, as well as the potential for negative effects that can occur if the individual has a device such as a defibrillator, pacemaker, etc. At Manduu, we have a list of “Absolute Contraindications” decided upon by our corporate office and E-Fit, and interestingly enough all of the aforementioned conditions are marked as such. New clients are required to sign a waiver confirming that they do not have any of these implanted medical devices, and that they are not pregnant. If the client marks that they do in fact have one of these absolute contraindications, they are not permitted to workout with Manduu for their own safety. They are informed of the potential dangers of EMS + pregnancy, and of the possible interference that the current can cause to any electronic medical device and are advised to let their trainer know if they become pregnant or if they have a device placed after the start of their Manduu membership.
Let’s hit on the good stuff: As I mentioned earlier, Manduu is FDA cleared. In fact, it is the only FDA cleared, full body EMS workout in the country. There is some conversation in the GMA report and the WSJ article around the dangers of executing an EMS workout without the guidance of an experienced operator. At Manduu, you don’t need to worry about that for a second. Our trainers have (at minimum) a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology, Exercise Science or something of the like. All are Manduu Certified Trainers (granted by E-Fit, Hungary and Manduu Corporate). Additionally, many of our trainers have acquired further certification on their own such as ASCM or NASM Personal Trainer and NSCA CSCS. They are super qualified and extremely knowledgeable in all things EMS.
The need for an experienced trainer and a controlled setting extends far beyond your typical “personal training” experience. Our trainers are well versed in safe and effective operation of equipment. They are trained in troubleshooting which allows them to catch any issues that may interrupt the workouts. Although medical situations are extremely rare, trainers are well aware of how to handle any that may happen to arise during or after a workout, including how to properly care for a client until medical help arrives. Trainers also follow a strict protocol of cleaning and sterilization of all equipment and the workout space used during the workout. In addition to all the safety stuff, a trainer will guide their client – they take the guesswork out of designing a routine and coming up with appropriate movements. Trainers will discuss individual goals and can then customize workouts to target them. At Manduu, trainers workout 1-2 clients at one time, which provides an opportunity to give each person their
undivided attention – trainers can carefully teach and correct form and modify exercises to each clients’ skill levels and needs.
Now that you have some solid evidence to support why a Manduu workout using electrical muscle stimulation is not nearly as scary or dangerous as some outside, less informed sources may lead you to believe, I hope you’re more excited than ever to get in for your next session! Spread the word so that more people can experience all the amazing benefits a Manduu routine can offer. We’ll see you in the studio!
Benefits of a Manduu workout:
-The most cutting-edge technology available in the fitness industry today
-The current delivered penetrates deep into the muscle tissue to activate over 90% of the muscle fibers, while traditional resistance training activates only about 65%
-higher muscle fiber activation results in quicker and more efficient muscle and strength gains
-Manduu’s full body workout takes only 15 minutes; the workout produces results that are equivalent to those seen after 6-8 hours working out in a standard gym
-Low-impact workout protects spine, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments
-Manduu’s workout causes muscle breakdown which results in muscle building – increased muscle mass = increased resting metabolic rate = decreased body fat
-increasing muscle mass is the only scientifically supported, proven method to safe and sustainable
body fat reduction
-Manduu workouts build core strength & balance which helps to reduce fall risk
-Reduce common ailments such as back and joint pain, and increase bone strength to reduce the risk of osteoporosis
-Manduu workouts cause an endorphin release which boosts mood; a steady workout regimen will improve energy and sleep
-Semi-private workouts – trainers train 2 clients maximum at one time
-Accessible and appropriate for individuals of all skill levels, ages 18-100, including those with physical disabilities
-Manduu is an awesome compliment to essentially any other workout modality – maximize your fitness & increase overall fitness performance!
-No equipment necessary; Manduu provides all that you need for your workout