Back in May 2009, I read a press release reporting amazing results of a scientific study completed by the European Association for the Study of Obesity. This controlled study was performed at the Artesis University College and the University of Antwerp in Belgium.
They stated: “vibration exercise machines may help you lose weight and trim the particularly harmful belly fat from the organs. Participants of the study who were part of the vibration training group lost 11% of their body weight and retained their loss at 10.5% after 12 months. They lost an amazing 47 square centimeters of visceral fat maintaining that loss at the final follow up”.
I was very excited because the study results were verification of what we were seeing on a daily basis at Vibra-Train. We already confidently told new clients they would start to see a decrease in their waist and belly size after just three weeks of training (9-10 sessions). We warned them that initially their weight might increase due to increases in muscle mass but that they’d see small discernable change in their shape; and then it would just get better and better. And they told us we were right – it really worked!
Then along came the detractors – they reminded me that the press release was an early report and the study had not yet been peer reviewed. They said I should wait for all the information before I jumped up and down with glee. They were sure it wouldn’t all add up, when you consider that gyms have been running “weight-loss challenges” for what seems like forever. They told me the gym based group must have performed better than vibration training group; their trainers were the ones with all the experience of working with obese clients and, besides, these naysayers, thought vibration training was a fad, just like a fashion that’s popular for a short period of time and then fades away.
There were some outspoken, highly respected fitness trainers, who had never tried a vibration machine session and refused to, when it was offered, yet they held very strong views on why it couldn’t work – they couldn’t understand it, they didn’t want to even try it, yet they argued about it. They told me the study would be flawed, because it didn’t validate their training methods (gym and outdoor exercise) above using a ‘wobble machine’ (to even call a vibration platform a wobble machine showed how little they really understood).
Then a year later, April 2010, the fully reviewed study was released
It was published in ‘Obesity Facts – The European Journal of Obesity Vol 3’.
No one could argue against the full study – the results were in; visceral (belly) fat reduced the most in the Vibration Training plus Diet group compared with the Fitness plus Diet group.
For the study they used PowerPlate brand, medium energy lineal vibration machines. These machines are lower force than the Vibra-Train brand I work with and this made the results even more exciting.
Here was the proof of the claims we were making and the results we were seeing every week; the academic world vindicated us. Vibration Training on high energy lineal or, as in the study, on medium energy lineal, Vibration Machines was proven to be very effective in achieving fat loss.
Another year ahead, now July 2011
Currently I am training three very obese clients. The first is a guy who has muscular dystrophy. He uses the Vibra-Train machine that has side, vibrating handlebars. He was totally unused to regular exercise although he told me he has been a referee for cricket games in the past and his aim was to lose enough weight to do this job again. That’s his motivation; it’s what is driving him to come into the studio regularly, three times a week.
In just two months he has progressed from managing just one special, 60-second, side handlebar assisted squat position to now completing nine of these special, “ski the slopes” assisted squats. On Monday he moves onto the regular program.
To help understand how hard repeating the “ski the slopes” squat position is; I can only do seven of these back-to-back before my quads and my arm muscles feel such a burn that I have to stop for a long rest before completing the final two of the set. We use this progression, going from just one minute of this simple, aptly named “Ski the Slopes” position moving up to nine of the same, and then the person moves onto the full IVTRB Safety Program, using the side, vibrating handlebars to assist in holding all squat positions.
The facts and figures of my client’s progress: Over the eight week period he’s been doing the therapy program of assisted squats he has progressed from one squat position to nine of the same; he’s gained 2kg of muscle (this is generally thought to be impossible for people with muscular dystrophy); he has lost 2kg of fat; and has 2% less body fat overall (measurements taken by Body Composition Analyser (BCA Machine) at first session and after 8 weeks of therapy). He can now move on from therapy, onto the full fitness training program.
The second client I am working with is a morbidly obese woman. She started on a therapy program about six weeks ago. Her program started at the most basic – she sat in a chair with her feet on the edge of the machine, with a mat on the machine to prevent her feet slipping. The angle of her knees/legs was the same as the basic squat position, around 110 degrees. Three times a week she did a total of 9 minutes therapy, just simply sitting with her feet on the machine. This provides sufficient stimulation to the legs and buttocks to move fluid accumulation and improve blood circulation. This is all about saving the client’s life! After a month this lady told me how much difference this had made. She said she was able to walk easier, with less of a stoop; she felt very much “better” and so had become more active. She was better able to participate in her family life and as she had a large extended family this was really important. In a very real sense she has been given her life back.
After just one week away due to a family bereavement this client came back for her regular session and told me she was again starting to experience difficulty walking – just one week – that’s all it took for her to lose some of the gains she’d made. She does travel often to visit family so she is hoping not to have too many breaks from her therapy sessions.
Last week she progressed to using the machine for one 60-second side handlebar assisted squat after her seated session. That’s the next step; she’s moving on!
My third client is a guy who is very morbidly obese. He is, by far, the biggest of the three and his sessions are absolutely about getting his legs moving again. He has fluid pooled in his legs and probably in other parts of his body also. If it pools around his heart he will die unless there is some solid medical intervention and as things are now he is already in a serious way for other medical problems, suddenly, at any time. He’s told us several of his relatives have died from obesity related conditions. So, he’s very motivated.
It’s nonsensical telling someone as big as this man to go for a walk or a run – they can’t, yet that’s the advice the fitness industry often gives. By contrast, Vibration Therapy and Training (at specialised studios such as Vibra-Train) offers a safe, effective way to mobilise these people, in some cases to truly save their lives. It’s up to them, really – the method is there and it’s been proven effective both subjectively and in the controlled study (noted above). What they have to do is simply turn up, three times a week, and do the sessions. Then later, when able, move onto the harder, regular training program and keep doing it.
Here in Auckland, New Zealand there are studios offering free or sponsored sessions for morbidly obese people, there really is no excuse!
It’s not too hard – it starts off too easy; later it does become very hard but that’s the price we all have to accept for fitness and health.
This very obese client has also progressed from sitting in a chair in front of the machine for 3x 3 minutes (9 minutes total) to the side vibrating handlebar assisted “ski the slopes” squat position. Last time he was in I saw him do three of these. In total that was around 7,500 rapid movements. This amount of pressure into his leg, trunk and arm muscles will bring a rapid improvement to his overall condition.
In fact this degree of improvement has been so appreciated by the people in one situation where Vibra-Train has a machine available for use by obese and immobile people that the nurse supervising their sessions has been forced to lock the door to the room the vibration machine is in. Sessions are held every second day (three times a week) with a day for rest and recovery inbetween but these people not realising how important that recovery day is, were trying to use the machine every day – they were so amazed at the results and totally happy to put in the effort to get more.