Power Plate: Proven Pilates Potential?

power-plate“It’s a power plate,” the instructor informed us. A round, mid-sized machine that eerily resembled a large hot plate. I was not convinced that this thing was a massaging apparatus.

“Ok everyone, flip the switch on in the back. Now pick up your remote control and select the play button.” The black oval began to vibrate. “Now select the timer button. Switch it to 60 seconds and then back to 30 seconds.” Great, I’m thinking. Am I going to hold a side plank as this thing reverberates for 60 seconds? Well, sort of…

The first exercise consisted of side lunges, where we strategically placed our left shin parallel to the edge of the round machine. An earthquake was erupting within. My head and lips were pulsating. Wendy’s voice was barely audible. “Are you OK, Megan?” She bellowed in broken syntax. “Oh, yes,” I lied. (My entire brain is pulsating while balancing in a lunge position. What do you think?)

legs-bosuWendy transitioned us through a series of awkward trembling sequences. My favorite exercise was holding plank in a push up, similar to being in chaturanga yoga pose. My triceps and skin were quivering and the ripple effect traveled down to my pulsating calves. The challenge? Maintaining proper form as vibrations transmitted tiny waves of energy  throughout my body, activating muscle contractions. It was also a balancing and juggling feat. Ever do squats on a BOSU ball? It’s like that.

As we transitioned into triceps dips, panic erupted. “Am I moving or is the plate moving away from me? It feels like it’s moving!” Gripping onto the edge for dear life, triceps-dipsmy sweaty palms were failing me, except I wasn’t moving. My inner ears were tricking my brain into thinking my body was shifting in motion. Ever run like hell on a treadmill and jump off too quickly and still feel like you’re in floating motion? It’s like that.

The aftermath? I was sorely disappointed that evening. And not in a muscle aching oh that actually feels good way. Was my chair on wheels during class that evening, or was my head just spinning out of control? Would I collapse into the lap of the girl next me? My spatial awareness had abandoned me. Ever go to the county fair and ride a rollercoaster that goes around and around and around  and experience the after effect of vertigo and motion sickness? It’s like that.

What the heck is the purpose of a power plate?

It’s based on technology developed for the Russian space program. Really. It’s used all over the world within the medical, rehabilitation, and health and fitness industries. From osteoporosis and hormone imbalance to accelerated fat loss and increased metabolism, the power plate can benefit people suffering from a spectrum of health concerns.

Do I think it belongs in an authentic Pilates studio? Absolutely not. When I cough up serious dough for a reformer class, I want to engage the mind-body connection while increasing my strength and flexibility, of course. This concept is completely lost in the power plate.

Let’s get one thing straight. I am no astronaut or fool to marketing gimmicks. Respect Pilates. Period.


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