There is a piece of equipment in my gym called the Power Plate. I think it stemmed from a celebrity craze a few years ago, when Madonna appeared at some event looking even more svelte than usual. Women everywhere started installing Power Plates in their living rooms, for the ultimate workout whilst watching Coronation Street.
I haven’t used it yet – it looks a little daunting and I’m not entirely convinced it counts as Real Exercise. I see the Lycra-clad woman hop onto it for a couple of minutes, stand in a variety of poses then hop off without breaking a sweat. It’s not quite as impressive as pounding the treadmill until the veins start throbbing in your temples.
Still, the poster on the wall promises me a complete body workout in just 15 minutes! which is pretty impressive. My standard gym workout takes me an hour – it’s no wonder I don’t come very often. If it only took me fifteen minutes, why I’d come every day. I wonder what else could be condensed into quarter hour slots? It would be awfully handy.
I step tentatively onto the Power Plate and decide on my options. Low, medium or high intensity? High, naturally. I want results and I want them fast. Thirty seconds, forty five or a full minute? Is a minute really the most one does? Gosh, I would have thought it would take longer than that. Still, I press the sixty second button and grasp the handles in preparation for the first move on the wall chart – the deep squat.
Without warning my head whips back as the machine grinds into action. It’s like being handed a pneumatic drill. My entire body shakes uncontrollably and my teeth are chattering so much I bite my tongue. There is a low moan coming from somewhere and I realise with horror that it’s me, but I can’t seem to stop it. I abandon my attempts at a deep squat and just hang on for dear life like a novice water skier. My thighs start to burn and I can feel my buttocks wobbling alarmingly, which can’t be a pleasant sight for whoever is on the Stair Master behind me. Never before have sixty seconds passed so incredibly slowly.
The Power Plate stops as abruptly as it started but I daren’t uncurl my white-knuckled fingers from the handles in case it starts again. Every muscle in my body is tense and I can’t move – I appear to have early onset rigour mortis. They’re going to have to carry me out on a stretcher. Gingerly I unlock one hand, then the other, and feel myself all over to see if I’ve sustained any lasting injuries. I don’t seem to have done, but when I step off the Power Plate my legs scoot from under me like Bambi on ice. I feel nauseous, like I’ve had one too many goes on the Waltzer.
Who on earth buys one of those for their own home? There must be a whole breed of sado-masochistic fitness fanatics out there.
I look at Exercise Two on the wall chart, the adductor massage, which requires you to lie on your side on the floor with your hips pushed up against the Power Plate and your upper leg wrapped around the machine. Given the intensity of the vibrations in a standing position, I can’t imagine what that must feel like on your… Oh. I see. That’s why they’re so popular.
And you say you can buy these for use at home?