Louise and I have a giant vibrator!
Maybe I should put that another way: Louise and I have a giant vibration machine. Actually, that doesn’t sound much better, but it’s still true. Perhaps I should explain.
Several years ago, Louise and I ran into an old friend of mine at a local watering hole. He’s older than me, which means he’s ancient. At one point, Louise put her hand on his shoulder and commented on how firm his arm muscles were. I was about to object when I put my hand on his shoulder and discovered that she was right. It felt like solid rock, and he’s an old bastard. How did that happen?
He explained that he doesn’t go to the gym at all, but he has a vibration machine at home. He does ten minutes a day on this machine, and he claims it’s like spending an hour at the gym. I sort of nodded and bought another round of drinks, thinking that I had just heard another tall tale in a bar. But I couldn’t get it out of my mind. An hour in the gym in only ten minutes?
I started investigating this, and the more I looked into it, the more intrigued I became. Apparently this is not a new thing at all. It's been around for years, but recently they’ve started making major advancements in this type of exercise.
Here's what I’ve learned: the way you build muscle and make muscles stronger is to put force on them. This causes them to contract, and if they contract enough, they will get stronger. It’s physics. There's actually a formula for determining the amount of force to put on a muscle (or anything else for that matter): It’s Newton’s Second Law of Motion, which states that force equals mass times acceleration.
If you’re lifting weights, you are using a lot of mass but very little acceleration. In order to put the same amount of force on the muscle with less weight, you have to increase the acceleration. If you use little or no mass at all, you must put a lot of acceleration on the muscle. This is where the vibration comes in.
As you stand on the platform, the plate beneath you starts to vibrate. A good machine will vibrate in several ways. Ours vibrates up and down and also in a circular motion. If you squat and tense your thigh muscles, the vibration of the machine works those muscles thirty to fifty times per minute. Imagine doing fifty squats a minute. That’s a lot of acceleration! If your posture is right, after only thirty seconds you can feel that your thighs have gotten a pretty good workout. You can use this same approach to exercise every muscle in your body. Ten minutes on this machine really does feel like a good workout.
It’s also wonderful for stretching your body. When Louise has a back ache, ten minutes of stretching on this machine fixes her right up. Because of a double spinal fusion a few years ago I haven’t been able to bend over and reach past my knees. A few sessions on the vibration machine and I can reach halfway between my knees and my feet—a huge improvement.
There’s a big part of me that doesn't believe any of this at all, except for one thing: it’s working. Instead of driving half an hour to the gym, working out for an hour and then driving half an hour back home, I can do the same thing in my living room in just ten minutes. I could probably drink a beer while I’m doing it, but I haven’t tried that yet. Maybe I could put some crackers and cheese on a table next to the machine and I could start the cocktail hour a little early.
Unfortunately, like most exercise equipment, the vibration machine has spent a lot of time in our TV room, just sitting there. It makes a perfect holder for shirts that are being ironed, and it looks sort of space age even when it’s not being used. Whenever I stand on it I’m tempted to say, “Okay, Scotty, one to beam up.”
In any event, I’m going to start really using this beast in my continuing effort to recapture my lost youth. Perhaps I can vibrate myself right back into my twenties. If I can do it with beer and snacks, maybe I’ll finally stick to it.