The other day I went back to Pure Vibes Fitness for a second, but very different workout from the Cardio Kickboxing class I took last week. Located at 834 N. Ashland Ave., Pure Vibes has a room dedicated to Power Plate classes. The class I took, called Power 3, combined three fitness components: the Power Plate, Kettle Bells and the TRX suspension system. If you've never heard of or used a Power Plate before, here's the scoop.
The Power Plate is a machine that vibrates at very high frequency. The platform can be used for upper body and lower body exercises. Using a Power Plate makes your muscles contract anywhere between 30 to 50 times a second, which means you're muscles are getting a workout without your body actually moving. You can definitely feel the vibration, but the frequency is so high and the muscle contraction is so small it's a machine that could be used by anyone. Power Plate experts suggest that you can get as much of a workout in ten minutes on a Power Plate as you would by doing 60 minutes of something else.
The Power 3 class I took was taught by Jessica Heuer, Pure Vibes' group fitness and personal training manager. With three different levels offrequencies to choose from, I set my machine at the lowest level. My muscles started vibrating at about 30 contractions a second. We started out on the Power Plate by warming up with a few squats and other movements. I felt completely stable on the wide Plate platform, but felt the vibration through every part of my body. I don't consider myself much of a "sweater"...Sure after a good workout I will be sweating quite a bit, but not after a warm up. Oddly, after ten minutes of getting loose on the Power Plate, I was dripping in sweat. I felt like I was working hard, but not in a way that would make me look like someone just threw a big glass of water on me. Apparently the high frequency of muscle contractions creates a lot of internal heat. I'm guessing that this played a big role in how much I was (as my mother would say) glistening.
Still working on the Power Plate, Jessica had us start using kettle bells (lighter and heavier weights). The weights were used for a variety of exercises, including squats, shoulder presses, lunges and kettle bell swings. We quickly transitioned across the room to the TRX suspension systems. I think TRX is probably one of the most convenient and effective ways to work every part of the body. One of the best things about using a TRX is that it can help provide balance to do single leg, or very isolated movements. This allows for weaker muscles to get stronger. Jessica had us go into several single leg squats and reverse lunges before getting into the upper body work. After a few minutes we were back on the Power Plate machine using the kettle bells. Each interval we did on the Power Plate was anywhere between 30 to 60 seconds. After each interval, the Power Plate automatically stopped, allowing for a much-needed recovery.
Power Plates are also great for upper body and core exercises. Each Plate comes with a pad that sits over the plate to allow for more comfortable positioning if you're using the machine to do planks or push ups, for instance. Using the Power Plate in combination with each of these exercises really forces your muscles to stabilize. This automatic stabilization makes the Power Plate a great device for injury rehabilitation, or strengthening weakened joints.
The Power 3 class was 45 minutes long and packed with movements and exercises that hit every one of my muscles. Truth be told, the day after I took the class my tush was pretty sore! By the end of class I could really tell that my body got more of a workout than it bargained for - which, in my book, is always a good thing. What's more, knowing that the Power Plate has the potential to improve circulation and strengthen connective tissue though the joints - made it that much more rewarding.
There aren't a lot of places in Chicago that offer Power Plate classes. And of the few, Pure Vibes is the most knowledgeable as they're the Power Plate authorized training center in the region. If you're interested in taking a class, give Pure Vibes Fitness a call at 312-850-4449.
Traci D Mitchell is a Chicago-based health and fitness writer and spokesperson. She's on-the-go everywhere trying out new and healthy things with a Chicago appeal. You can reach Traci through ChicagoNow orwww.tracidmitchell.com.