It’s amazing what you can adapt to given a little time. Seven weeks ago I was quite nervous about being strapped into a suit filled with electrodes, hooked up to the mains and guided through a workout while being zapped by an electrical current – now it feels like second nature.
I’m just over halfway through a 12- week EMS (electro muscle stimulation) programme with fitness studio Ex- erceo, intended to lift me from my post-lockdown doldrums and trans- form me into something resembling… well, me the last time I put myself through a mad fitness regime for this newspaper.
After doing virtually no exercise for 18 months, I’ve been visiting Exerceo twice a week and supplementing this with one or two gym sessions of my own, as well as (mostly) following ad- vice from Exerceo’s nutritionist. Each session lasts just 20 minutes, although during that time you’re subjected to an unrelenting ‘six seconds on, four seconds off’ cycle of electrical im- pulses, which coincide with what is es- sentially an empty-handed weights workout. To an unaware bystander, it might look like you’re pretending to do a shoulder press, for instance, but
when your muscles are constricting it feels like you’re hoisting a loaded bar- bell around the place.
The intensity of impulses to your var- ious muscle groups are controlled by a trainer from a central console, meaning every workout pushes you further than the last one as you build up fitness. To mix things up, each trainer has a slightly different style meaning sessions vary depending who you’re booked in with.
Each time I end up breathless and sweating but the fact it’s only 20 min- utes means the end is always in sight and it never feels like a chore in the way a 60-plus minute workout can.
Some of the process has felt familiar from the times I’ve done more conven- tional fitness programmes in the past – twice, four and eight years ago – with the first two weeks typified by constantly aching muscles as my body rages against this unfamiliar bout of activity. But that mostly wears off and it becomes surprisingly easy to settle into a routine. The fact that I can be back at my desk, including a stop-off for food, in under an hour makes it a boon for the time poor.
So, does it work? Well… yes, it ap- pears to be. With five weeks still to go, I look noticeably leaner around the waist, bigger around the chest and arms and I feel generally healthier. The row of suits I’d grown out of over lockdown now fit me again. Fitness programmes – even intensive 12 week ones – rely on consistency and motiva- tion, and the regularity of the Exerceo sessions, not to mention the hard work I have to put in every time, have kept me motivated to hit the gym on my ‘off days’. In the past I’ve found the most noticeable changes come to- wards the end of the 12 weeks, so I’m excited to see where this will end up.