THE THING ABOUT building muscle, cutting fat and otherwise getting in shape is, well, you have to work out. No fair, right? But what if someone – or something – else could do a lot of the work for you? Such is the commonly perceived promise of electrical muscle stimulation training, aka EMS, a type of technology that activates your muscles from the outside while you activate them from the inside.
“It’s an efficient workout,” says Jackie Wilson, a lawyer-turned-personal trainer who founded NOVA Fitness Innovation, a network of boutique fitness studios in New York City that offers one-on-one EMS training sessions.
While the specifics vary depending on the model of equipment itself and the type of supervision you’re under, in Wilson’s studios, the training involves wearing a wetsuit-like outfit embedded with 20 electrodes that sit atop major muscle groups like the pecs, biceps and quads. As clients go through a body weight or lightly weighted workout – say, a circuit including squats, pushups and jumping jacks – he or another trained staff member uses a wireless device to send impulses of varying intensities to those muscles that are contracting.