The health and fitness industry, like other areas, has its fair share of gadgets and gizmos that promise much but deliver little and products that actually do what they say on the tin in a useful and meaningful way are thin on the ground. However, one worthwhile device is the Power Plate. I had been aware of its existence for some time, I have used it as part of my own training regime and I encouraged my mother to buy one 5 years ago. She is now 85 and claims it is the one thing that keeps her up on her feet and moving. So I was very interested to have the opportunity to look in depth at their latest range of machines and discover any new developments in the area of ‘vibration’ or ‘accelerated’ training as they call it and look at its usefulness for over fifties.
What is Power Plate?
For those of you who have not come across this device before it consists of a platform with a central column on which are handles and controls. The user stands or sits on the platform in a range of positions that exercise different muscles/groups and the platform vibrates. The vibration of the platform makes the muscles to be worked contract 30-40 times a second, which leads to a number of health gains. The plate uses ‘harmonic vibrations’, which means it vibrates in a regular and constant pattern across the whole platform at the optimum frequencies for muscle response. It moves approximately 80% up and down and 20% from left to right and backwards to forwards. The user is not aware of this directionality but feels a pleasant vibration.
I was pleased to find that the company continues to do independent academic research to both develop its product and back up its claims of efficacy. The knowledgebase has given them a credibility that has led to an EU MDD certificate (medical device directive) and is now used in a number of health professional settings from training elite athletes to physiotherapy injury rehabilitation; from young users to the elderly; from seasoned exercisers to non-exercisers.
The benefits of Power Plate for 50+ women
So what benefits does Power Plate offer 50+ women? Firstly, it is easy to do and as such is a great way to start exercise; It is perfect for those to whom lifting heavy weights is undesirable through preference or because of a pre-existing condition like back pain or arthritis and a workout is only 30 minutes as opposed to the 60 minutes of a normal exercise session. The health benefits and improvements you can expect to see with regular use include increased strength and flexibility, improved circulation and lymphatic drainage, increased bone density, reduced cellulite and body fat and improved balance or ‘falls prevention’ as Power Plate call it. It is suitable for use for those already suffering from obesity, diabetes, onset cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, back pain and arthritis and will certainly help improve symptoms. However, it is not suitable for those who are: pregnant or suffering from severe osteoporosis, CVD, acute thrombosis, epilepsy, cancer or have a pacemaker.
Access and cost of Power Plate
So what’s the down side? Historically, access and cost have worked against Power Plate but they have recently been trying to address these problems. I was told that the machines are now available in some 2000 facilities nationwide, from private gyms to council run leisure centres to dedicated Power Plate practices to physiotherapy and other health practices. To find the nearest to you just go on www.powerplate.com/uk and click on ‘Plate Locator’, insert your postcode to find your nearest facility. Otherwise, Power Plates can be bought. There are 2 ranges – the home and Professional ranges. The new home range starts with the entry level my3 (£1495), the mid range my5 (£3095) has a wider range of features whilst the top end my7 (£4995) includes features such as a touch screen computer with a virtual trainer incorporating 1000 exercises and 250 workouts. The cost of these still quite expensive machines can be compared to a private gym membership. Before you buy one, I suggest you try out a few sessions at a local facility and if Power Plate is for you, for sustained long term use, it would be no doubt be a substantial saving to buy one. I know my mother would tell you hers was worth every penny.
Ceri and I will soon be trying out Power Plate class sessions led by a trained Power Plate specialist and will report back to you about the experience as the second half of this product report.