Hook me up to electrical currents while I exercise? Yes, please

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Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. She is equally enthusiastic about health and fitness and is always on the lookout for the latest workout trends. More of her at CherylTay.sg and on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (cheryltay11).

There’s another new fitness rage in Singapore, and it involves passing electricity through your body.

No, seriously – just 20 minutes of electro muscular stimulation (EMS) during a simple workout is said to be more effective than a full hour of training in the gym.

It’s all about better results in less time, which is ideal for a modern society and its permanent race against the clock.

The EMS technology uses low-level electrical currents to stimulate and reach deep-lying muscles, which are typically difficult to activate through conventional training.

Increased muscle formation, definition, strength and endurance are just some of the positive byproducts of EMS.

I had to try it for myself, so I visited two EMS studios -- Bodytec and Powerzeit -- to slip on a damp vest with embedded electrodes and wire my body to a machine.

Once you’re connected, the current comes on and the electrical intensity can be adjusted depending on how much you can take. The stronger the current, the greater the resistance and ergo, the more work on your muscles gets done.

After 20 minutes of simple exercises like squats and lunges, I perspired just a little – but the next day, I was actually aching in my arms and glutes!

Hit with the masses

While EMS is not proven to directly aid weight loss, Bodytec owner Christoph Schockemoehle said it has been popular with the ladies in helping them shape up and shave inches off their waistlines.

Men welcome EMS with open arms too, but usually complement it with their gym routines.

Kurt Unger, 43, has been training at Bodytec since July last year and he said, “It seems more efficient as you include body parts that you don’t usually concentrate on when working out in the gym.”

His weekly fitness routine consists of EMS training twice a week, weights training twice a week and one 10km run.

Twice a week is enough as the body needs time to recover from the intensity, said both Schockemoehle and Powerzeit owner Wolfgang Reeh.

EMS was initially used for therapy and rehabilitation but steadily increased in popularity over the years as a training method for improved performance and fitness.

Its success in Germany, where it originated, was the reason Schockemoehle and Reeh decided to bring the machines to Singapore.

Schockemoehle opened the first Bodytec at Stanley Street last July, and has since launched two more branches at Pickering Street and Upper East Coast Road.

He gets one new client a day on average, and plans to open another seven branches by the end of the year.

“Research studies have shown that EMS training is 18 times more efficient in muscle formation compared to weight training,” said the 41-year-old. “Of course, this is not for gaining big muscles but more of strengthening and toning.”

Schockemoehle explained that “instead of having to work on individual parts of the body, EMS allows all muscle groups to be stimulated at the same time, hence saving time and energy".

“Also, EMS is friendly on the joints, so the injured or the elderly can also use this,” he added.