A growing category at Health & Fitness Business Expo was whole body vibration training with at least five companies offering products to retailers. Popular in Europe and a growing category in Canada, companies are making the push into the United States to shake up couch potatoes. Already with a strong foothold in the commercial and vertical markets, many of the pieces are now being downsized enough to make them a more viable home retail product too.
SNEWS® took a hard look at the training method in our GearTrends® magazine (now known as SNEWS magazine) in 2006 just as whole body vibration (WBV) was becoming more talked about. Click here to access that story.
WBV dates back to the 1960s. First, researchers were looking at its benefits for osteoporosis, and then it was adopted by the Russian space program as a way to help cosmonauts combat the effects of gravity on the body. Due to the lack of gravity in space, astronauts exhibited muscle atrophy and bone loss, but vibration training allowed them to combat the effects of micro-gravity and stay in space longer. Modern vibration training is accessed by deconditioned folks to elite athletes, and used in rehab applications, by sports teams and for personal workouts.
Vibrations produced by machines induce very rapid muscle contractions -- 30 to 50 times per second -- that work a person's muscles continuously. Reported benefits include increased muscle strength, lifting ability and endurance; building of muscle and bone density; improved balance, flexibility and core strength; toning and weight loss; and improved circulation. Because of the intensity of the vibration, exercisers are not supposed to use machines for more than 10-15 minutes continuously during a session, three to four times per week.
Most product platforms available exhibit two types of motions: side-to-side -- often referred to as oscillating or pivotal -- or multi-directional up and down, also known or tri-planar. Prices for most home models hover around $1,000-$3,000.
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If you attended the HFB show, it was hard to miss the demos at DKN Technology's booth -- three women (not all necessarily your typical show model types) doing a synchronized workout to lively, albeit somewhat outdated, music on the new X series. Debuting at the HFB show, the X series features a retail and a commercial model, and joins the 20-year-old company's other lines (four of which have been in the U.S. market) -- the Exclusive, Pro and V-Power. The XG05 is designed for home use, rehab and light commercial and retails for $3,000. With a vertical 3D movement platform, it has an integrated virtual coach program with five training modules and graphic display showing different positions. It has a one-piece solid steel platform and a remote control for abdominal positions in the lower panel. The XG10 commercial model has a new touch-sensor control panel and retails for $4,000. Machines come with an interactive DVD and complete exercise guide. www.dkn-usa.com
Less than two years old, MedVibe offers three models -- NitroFit Personal (MSRP $1,000), NitroFit Deluxe (MSRP $2,500) and MV Pro (MSRP $6,000). With a side-to-side vibration movement, the NitroFit Personal is targeted for home use and has a range of 30 speeds, allowing users to adjust the speed up or down for their comfort zone. Lower speeds are good for training balance. It has five built-in workout programs, a 10-minute timer with beeping intervals and adjustable resistance bands for upper body exercises. Jonathan Hyams, director of sales for MedVibe, explained to SNEWS that slight adjustments in a person's stance will target specific areas of the body and affect the intensity of the workout. "Adjusting your body is meant to be done slowly because the platform is moving for you," he said. www.wholebodyvibration.net
Available in Europe for 10 years and in North America for five years, Power Plate's David Taylor says the backbone of the company is built upon research and education. Its product lineup includes five models -- the My series (MSRP $2,000 to $4,500) are targeted for home use, while the Pro series (MSRP $9,250 to $10,500) are mainly commercial but can crossover to home. The My3 is the company's trimmest model and has been updated to be more aesthetically inline with the look of its commercial models. The My5 (MSRP $4,500) is a smaller version of the Pro5 professional model with a 3-foot-by-3-foot footprint and has had its faceplate and electronics overhauled. Both models have 30- or 60-second time selections and low or high vibration energy output. The My5 also has a remote control and both the machine and remote are pre-programmed with quick start options of strength, stretch, massage and relax. www.powerplate.com
After showcasing another company's $10K-plus model in its booth last year, Star Trac designed its own vibration machine to show at the HFB show this year. Considered an entry-level machine, the V-Pulse (MSRP $995) offers a side-to-side, teeter-totter movement and 20 vibration levels. It has five programs with variable time and frequency, as well as ergonomically designed handles that curve out from the control panel console all the way down to the vibration platform. www.startracusa.com
A Canadian company with nearly five years under its belt, Vibra-Pro made its debut into the U.S. market this year, offering retail and commercial models. A major differentiation of Vibra-Pro is it offers both tri-planar (multi-directional) and oscillating (side-to-side) models. Its tri-planar moves 70 percent up and down, 20 percent front and back, and 10 percent side-to-side. It has eight models which can be custom tailored to retailers' needs -- that is, console heads, handles, platforms can be mixed and matched for a unique look. Models can also be branded with an outfit's logo. Retail prices range from $999 to $9,500. Each machine also comes with a workout DVD that has an introduction to vibration training, shows how to use the equipment and features a 10-minute full-body workout. Richard Waleed, Vibra-Pro's vice president of sales, told SNEWS, "Ninety percent of customers are women." www.vibra-pro.com