What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I’m taking an exercise class at Moving Strength, a boutique Pilates studio in New York City, and, well, I’m struggling. My body feels like it’s buzzing with electricity. My triceps are burning, my quads are shaking, and my heart rate is growing quicker. Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t my first time trying the core-strengthening workout; I’m actually a Pilates devotee. But most of the time, I know what I’m getting when I take a class. I expect the Hundred series and some Reformer-supported leg circles. Now, my go-to routine is suddenly getting shaken up—literally—with the help of the Personal Power Plate.
The Personal Power Plate, which launched this past January, is a smaller, more portable version of the Power Plate. Both machines feature a vibrating platform that’s meant to amplify any type of workout, not just Pilates, by challenging one’s strength, balance, circulation, and flexibility. It’s almost like an electronic version of an old-school step (yes, the kind used for 80s-style dance aerobics).
According to the tool’s makers, research has shown that whole-body vibration exercise offers a wealth of health benefits, from improved body composition and bone metabolism among postmenopausal women to reduced pain and fatigue in female fibromyalgia patients.
Still, I wasn’t totally convinced that my workout would benefit from the addition of an unstable surface. After all, aren’t planks tough enough already? Spoiler alert: The Personal Power Plate made them (and a slew of other classic Pilates exercises) tougher.
My one-on-one session with Moving Strength founder Patricia Ruiz began with a quick stand on the plate to get a feel for the way it vibrated. From there, we graduated to a core series. I sat on the edge of the machine with my feet placed flat on the floor and a squishy ball propped between the plate and my lower back to create a standard Pilates C-curve in my torso.
Only it wasn’t so standard once we pressed the start button and the machine started to shake—my abs had to work so much harder than usual to remain stable, especially as we added variations to the mix, like leg lifts and cross-body reaches.
Other seemingly simple exercises were also amped up when we added the Personal Power Plate to them. Side lunges done with one foot resting on the shaky platform challenged my balance. Mountain climbers performed with my hands placed on top of the plate required extra activation in my upper arms.
For me, the 30-minute session was just enough to get my heart rate up and my muscles fatigued, which is precisely Ruiz’s intention for the Power Plate Pilates class.
If you encounter a Power Plate product (either the larger version that comes complete with handlebars, or the scaled-back platform model I tried) at your gym, don’t be intimidated. While elite athletes and fit celebs are fans of the machine (Serena Williams and Sting included), you don’t need to be cut to cop their benefits. Even just resting your calves on top of the platform while it vibrates is a great way to massage muscles and speed recovery, said Ruiz.
While I may not integrate the Personal Power Plate into every one of my Pilates workouts moving forward, there’s no question that the tool put a spin on my sweat session. For fitness buffs looking to shake up their routine, I think you’ll get good vibrations from the gadget.
This story was originally seen on Health.com: The Fitness Machine That Shook Up My Pilates Routine for the BetterOther things from Health.com that may get you pumped: