Good Vibrations

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Katie Wolfe Baker (in blue) and Jamie Bumgarner demonstrate a Power Plate workout

The regulars at the Pilates and Personal Training Studio of Bexley are no couch potatoes. So when the studio doubled its size earlier this year and introduced a new vibrating piece of workout equipment to its clients, most were game to try it at least once.

Those who stuck with the Power Plate discovered a killer workout. "We've had people say, 'I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get through the class,' " said Katie Wolfe Baker, the studio's manager. "A lot of people feel they need that boost."

What separates the Power Plate from traditional gym gear is its gentle vibrations, which transmit waves of energy throughout the body. On the lowest setting, the plate pulsates 30 times per second and triggers muscles to rapidly contract. But users can't expect to simply turn on the machine and stand still while it does all the work; results come weeks after performing a combination of strength and cardio moves atop the plate.

"Instead of using dumbbells or barbells to apply force, we use vibration and basically apply more gravitational force," explained Tony Swain, training and education manager for Power Plate North America, a California-based company.

"When that plate drops, your body thinks the earth just fell."

As a result, muscles work overtime without your brain controlling the reaction, Swain said. "It's much more of a neurological workout than a conscious training."

The Power Plate's intensity is appealing to those with limited time, or those who have difficulty motivating themselves, Swain said. There are therapeutic benefits, too, because the vibrations help increase blood flow and can be used b before or after workouts to massage sore muscles.

"People are like, 'It can't be a workout. I don't see the movement,'" Swain said. "That's a misconception until you get on it.

Anne Adair, owner of Urban Moves in Bexley, uses the machines to help clients build strength.

"I've had them for long enough to really see benefits," she said. "What I've seen is, people who are coming back from an injury get better and recover stronger."

Body Benefits
  • Builds muscle strength and endurance
  • Increases blood circulation
  • Tones and sculpts Improves balance and flexibility
  • Decreases cellulite


Testing the Power Plate

I'll admit I was skeptical about trying a fitness machine designed to shake my body into shape. The Power Plate doesn't look especially scientific or intimidating-it resembles an oversized scale with handlebars-but within minutes of stepping onto the vibrating plate, I felt a burning sensation deep within my muscles.

My 55-minute-long group Power Plate class at the Pilates and Personal Training Studio of Bexley began with a quick warm up on an elliptical machine. Then, instructor Jamie Bumgarner led me and two other clients through a series of cardio and strengthening moves on and off the plate.

The vibrations tingled my whole body, from my toes to my teeth, and intensified each squat, leg lift and static pose. We alternated repetitive movements, using hand weights, medicine balls and resistance bands.

Halfway through our session, sweat was dripping off my forehead. I felt like I'd been working out for double the amount of time I'd spent at the gym. (I take several high-impact cardio-dance classes a week and don't usually tire easily, so I was surprised to feel the effects so quickly.)

After class, my legs shook as if I'd just finished running a race. I hadn't exactly conquered the Power Plate in a day, but I'd survived, and that alone felt good.

My quads, glutes and hamstrings, though, didn't fully recover until two days later.

--Dana Wilson