You can stand on it or sit on it. You can lift your legs, do deep knee bends (not easy) and exercise your arms. "Whole body vibration therapy," done on a machine that looks like a small-step treadmill, is the new rage in fitness. The machines purportedly can help improve circulation, energy, strength and endurance. They are also said to help with balance and coordination, aid in weight loss, develop muscle tone, and increase bone density.
Seems too good to be true. But the therapy is now widely accepted in sports training, rehabilitation and at fitness centers around the world.
There are two kinds of vibration therapy. One—the best known—is done with a Power Plate machine on which a person can do resistance exercises. The other is "fueled" by sonic vibration that reaches deeper into the body.
The Soviets came up with vibrational therapy for cosmonauts in space nearly 40 years ago, and NASA followed suit. It was found that at zero gravity with no resistance astronauts lost muscle strength. But when strapped into a vibration machine for just 10 minutes a day, they came back with less muscle loss and in better health.
According to the Detroit Medical Clinic, "Fifteen minutes of vibration exercise produces similar results to one hour in conventional training. In addition, there is less stress on the joints, ligaments and tendons with vibration training," which makes it a great alternative for those unable to do conventional strength training, such as the elderly or those in rehabilitation.
Wanting to improve on the mechanical vibration machines, scientists developed the use of sonic vibration therapy with input by Qigong masters in South Korea.
The resultant machine takes the approach to a different level. The makers believe that sonic frequencies can raise a person's vibration energy, or "chi," which is essential for a healthier life.
Gravity's pull works in a vertical direction, making the sonic (sound) vibrating platform a more natural and more effective way for the human body to exercise. The precise vertical up and down vibration frequencies range from 3 to 50 hertz.
The shaking that's going on in downtown Ketchum is emanating from Il Sogno Spa, which now has one of the FDA approved TurboSonic machines.
"I have osteoarthritis and bone spurs in my hip from abusing myself as a dancer," said Kim Harrison, owner of Il Sogno. "This repairs strains with microscopic impact that's so low you can't feel it. It decreases the pain in my hip. I feel it when I haven't done it in a while. This is the only exercise I do. And it also increases endorphins."
In addition, research shows that after one vibration training session there is a rise in testosterone and growth hormone, and a drop in the stress hormone cortisol.
But does not entail a time constraint or a learning curve that some newfangled contraptions do. There are no bands, or straps. A person just stands for 10 minutes while the machine alters its sonic waves, thus creating a knee-jerk muscle reaction.
After using it, a person can feel more energized and have the skin glow and buzz of a person who's just exercised for an hour.
For the slackers among us and those who barely have the 10 minutes a day to spare, this all amounts to jolly good news.