McALLEN – When a colleague suggested a story on a new body vibration workout, I'll admit I was skeptical.
I envisioned the old gym contraptions from the 1960s that had a wide belt, attached to a vibrating motor, that was placed around one's mid-section. They disappeared from workout facilities long ago, so I curious if there was any credibility to this "‘no work' workout."
What I found when I visited Goga Studios new facility in McAllen were sleek, modern-looking machines similar to a treadmill, but a much smaller platform on which to stand. Instead of it being a conveyor-belt type platform, the plate you stand on moves in a see-saw type motion. The user controls the amount of vibration, from very gentle to very fast. The machine exercise all muscle groups, according to company literature.
I spoke with Jan Garcia, who with her husband Javier, brought this new work out system to South Texas from Canada and own the McAllen studio. She explained that it is more than just a 10-minute vibration session. Their full workout session includes use of the vibration machine, a sauna and consumption of alkaline water.
Since the vibration machines are the star of the show, and the other two are already widely-known, we'll focus on "whole body vibration technology."
During my visit to the studio, I saw a wide variety of people using the machines - an elderly woman, a young mother and a young man. This is clearly a workout technology that almost anyone would enjoy and benefit from. (Of course, if you have medical concerns, you should consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.)
Garcia said that even elderly people with limited mobility have been able to benefit from the technology since you don't even have to stand on the machine. You can sit on the platform or do like one woman and it in a chair resting her feet on the vibrating platform. One of the reported benefits of the machine is improvement in circulation.
The Goga website explains how circulation is affected by vibration: "While performing exercises your muscles are contracting - this would usually decrease your circulation but when training on a Whole Body Vibration (WBV) machine, circulation in both the muscles and skin tissue may be increased significantly. Furthermore, while enjoying massage positions, your circulation may improve which significantly benefits the reduction of cellulite."
When I first stepped on the machine, Garcia set the machine to a gentle vibration so that I could adjust to the feeling. After a few seconds I had her increase the frequency and did a 10-minute session. She said I could just stand there while the machine worked, but that some people like to do moves like squats or lunges and they also have small weights which you can lift while on the machine.
Regarding the potential of weight loss, the Goga website states, "You may lose weight. Training on WBV machines has been shown to increase lean muscle mass, therefore increase metabolism and burning more calories. It is recommended though, for optimum weight loss, that you combine vibration training with a cardio workout."
The company cites about a dozen studies on whole body vibration that have concluded that it is beneficial. "We conclude that it would be good to combine aerobic exercise with whole body vibration in a weight loss program," said one of the cited studies from Europe. It is available for review on their website.
This new workout is growing in popularity. Three Goga Studios are open in Hidalgo County -- McAllen, Mission and Edinburg - and Garcia says that franchises will soon be opening in Austin and other cities around Texas.
Goga Studios, 2508 Buddy Owens Blvd., McAllen. 956-630-4642; 2521 E. Griffin Parkway, Ste. D, Mission. 956-585-4642; 417 E. Mahl Street, Edinburg. 956-381-4642.