In the 1800s, science became really popular. Science was seen as a profession, and there were crazy experiments reanimating the dead with electricity. Well, more accurately, scientists including Giovanni Aldini experimented with galvanism—the stimulation of muscles via electrical induction—on the corpse of George Forster, who was found guilty of murdering his wife and kid. It was reported that when Aldini demonstrated galvanism, the deceased “began to quiver… the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened”. Inspired by the spate of experimental galvanism, Mary Shelley would pen Frankenstein.
The relationship between body and electricity has lasted since that first spark in the primordial soup: the sinoatrial node sends an action potential to make our hearts beat; the brain fires off electrical signals to form actions and thoughts; energy is created from electrically charged minerals called electrolytes.
And then there’s excitation-contraction coupling. It’s an electrical stimulus leading to a mechanical response (muscle contraction). That’s the foundation of muscle physiology and it’s that muscle contraction which lends to strength building. But what if you can manipulate the contraction? In using external electrical impulses to manipulate the muscles into contracting more, especially when you’re working out, it makes your 30-minute workout feel like 90 minutes worth of high-intensity training. That is what electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is.
Fit in 30 EMS Studio, located at Shaw Centre is one such establishment that offers work-outs that incorporates EMS. Classes are intimate affairs, with a personal trainer overseeing your progression during the session. I don an inner suit; it’s skin-tight and wetted down (for easier conduction) before putting on an EMS vest. There are electrodes located in key areas of my body to target the muscles. Past iterations of the EMS vest didn’t offer much by way of mobility. The version I’m wearing is wireless. Using Bluetooth technology, you can modulate the pulses according to how intense you’d like your workout to be.
Classes at Fit in 30 only last for half an hour but it takes about 15 minutes to suit up. And once you’re attired, it takes a while to get used to moving in the vest. When the session begins, you’ll feel pulsations in certain areas of your body: this is your fast-twitch muscle fibres being stimulated. Your average workout begins with the activation of slow-twitch fibres before it crescendos to fast-twitch throughout your training. EMS leapfrogs to stimulating your fast-twitch fibres, which has more growth potential. There are also recovery benefits with EMS as muscle contraction is one of the more effective methods to reduce swelling and inflammation.
In my research, I came across this phrase: “EMS isn’t snake oil but it’s not magic either.” That is true. An EMS session leaves you winded—I can attest to that—and depending on your lifestyle, the results are almost immediate. I saw definitions in my physique but for longer-lasting results, try a weekly session or complement an EMS session with your current (if any) workout routine (that is, high-intensity interval training, running and powerlifting).
Fit in 30 EMS Studio is located at Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road #03-21, Singapore 228208.