Fitness fads come and go, but not all of them are everything they’re cracked up to be. One fitness industry trend that’s picked up in popularity in recent years is whole-body vibration training (WBVT). Wondering whether it’s really possible for your health club members to vibrate their way to fitness? Here’s a closer look at WBVT.

What Is WBVT?

“With whole-body vibration, you stand, sit or lie on a machine with a vibrating platform. As the machine vibrates, it transmits energy to your body, forcing your muscles to contract and relax dozens of times each second. The activity may cause you to feel as if you’re exerting yourself,” explains Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic

LesMills goes into more depth in breaking down how the technology works: “WBV causes small muscle contractions as a standing platform rapidly oscillates up and down only a few millimeters. These oscillations activate a highly sophisticated balance feedback nerve response, designed to prevent falling. From within the central nervous system, a pulse of nervous activity contracts muscles down one side of the body. The speed of the vibrations of the platform determines how fast the contractions change from side to side.”

Is WBVT Effective?  

All of these explanations beg the question, “does WBVT really do anything?” That depends on who you ask. Some people swear by the benefits of WBVT for everything from burning fat and weight loss to improving flexibility and building strength. Internationally recognized leader in human performance, coaching and education Scott Hopson not only contends that WBVT is safe and effective for enhancing the nervous system, musculoskeletal system, and circulatory system, but also that it facilitates results across a breadth and depth of measures, including strength, speed, power, flexibility, balance and stability, cardiorespiratory capacity and metabolism, and circulation. 

“Why use vibration training? Well to some degree it is one of the best-kept secrets in the health, wellness and performance industries. The simple reality is that it empowers us to enhance everything we do and in less time,” Hopson concludes. 

Others, however, point to a lack of comprehensive research backing up these assertions. 

That being said, while WBVT may not lead to the same results as proven workouts like walking and swimming, there is some evidence suggesting that whole-body vibration may indeed have some of these benefits, as well as additional ones. “Some research does show that whole-body vibration may help improve muscle strength and that it may help with weight loss when you also cut back on calories,” says Laslowski. 

Consider the results of a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, for example, which determined that while WBVT did not lead to losses in weight or body fat after a 24-week protocol, it did lead to gains in knee-extensor strength and fat-free mass. The paper’s conclusion? “The gain in strength is comparable to the strength increase following a standard fitness training program consisting of cardiovascular and resistance training.”

Exercise class with participants.

It’s also worthwhile to note that WBVT may also have health benefits beyond sports and fitness.  According to Laskowski, it can help reduce back pain, boost strength and balance in seniors, and even reduce bone loss. It may also be used in the treatment of serious medical conditions, including everything from stroke recovery to pulmonary disease. 

One last thing to keep in mind about helping your fitness business members achieve true health and wellness? Regardless of whether or the degree to which WBVT works, it’s important to reinforce the importance of other engaging in other activities, including eating right, aerobic exercise, and strength training. Wearable technology has become an invaluable tool for fitness businesses looking to help their members get the most out of their workouts.  Request a demo today to learn what the AccuroFit system can do for you.