Like most people, I find it’s a huge effort shoe-horning exercise into my life between a job, social life and a relationship.
So when Massimo Stocchi got in touch to tell me about electro muscle stimulation, I was game.
He promised that, in one 20-minute workout at the Emx Squared studio, I’d burn a chunky 2,000 calories – the equivalent of eight hours of conventional exercise.
The only (terrifying) catch was I’d be hooked up to wires and getting zapped with an electrodes, while doing a series of low and high-impact exercises.
Stimulating 90 per cent of muscles, EMS promised ‘super-human results’ in a short space of time.
Emailing me prior to the session, Massimo explained: “Many of my clients have busy lives so this is the most efficient way for them to get results.”
One £75 session a week will substitute a week’s-worth of gym-going, he told me.
It sounded like the perfect workout. So off I went to Montagu Mansions in Marylebone, pair of trainers in hand and absolutely no idea what to expect.
The ‘training room’ was fully stocked with iron bars, wires and black straps laid out like a meticulously arranged torture chamber.
It was intimidating, but the lovely Massimo quickly put me at ease.
He handed me some leggings and a long sleeved top, both designed to conduct current effectively, then strapped Velcro round my legs, bum and arms.
Finally, he clipped me into a heavy-duty waistcoat, which was wired up to an ominous-looking control panel.
Then it was time for the shocks to commence.
Massimo fired up the machine, starting me off on a ‘gentle’ current.
With the impressive results promised, I should have known the sensation wouldn’t be pleasant. As vibrations ripped through my body, ‘gentle’ certainly wouldn’t have been my description of it.
It felt like I was being punched in the stomach repeatedly, with a few high-speed kicks on my upper thighs and glutes thrown in.
I stood rooted to the spot, the current rendering me unable to move.
“It’s all in your mind, you’ll get used to it,” Massimo grinned, clearly used to this reaction.
So I jolted into action with a series of grunts, groans and ‘Oh God’s.
Following Massimo’s instructions, I swayed side to side doing some bicep curls, to adjust to the feeling of the shocks.
Once I got used to the weirdness I was able to move on to squats and kettlebell-swinging, engaging all of my muscle groups.
Every time I adjusted to the discomfort, Massimo ramped up the voltage to maximise intensity.
As the first ten minutes crept past, my thighs, bum and biceps thudded with a consistent pain, which, though unpleasant, was just about manageable.
My abs, however, felt like they were being mauled from within.
Every time I inhaled the suit pressed against them, sending further agonising shocks down my belly.
“That means your core is weak, the pain feels worse on untrained muscle groups,” Massimo told me.
It certainly felt like I was making up for wussing out on those crunches in the gym now.
The session ticked by and, while at times it was cripplingly sore, the fact I only had to endure the currents for 20 minutes was a good incentive to keep going.
It was also satisfying to know I was being pushed to my limit without actually having to summon the willpower to do the ‘pushing’ part myself.
Finishing with a few standing crunches and knee lifts, Massimo finally turned the machine off.
I felt euphoric and immediately forgot how much the pain that I’d been in seconds before – like how I imagine a mum feels after childbirth.
Better still, the session was followed by a 15-minute stint in a sauna to fully relax my muscles and detox my body.
Massimo warned that I’d feel the burn in 48 hours’ time and urged me to follow the session with a protein-packed meal, to aid muscle repair.
Leaving the mansion just 35 minutes after arriving, I couldn’t believe I’d essentially done a week’s-worth of exercise.
Yes, it was intense. Yes, it felt like I’d been beaten up.
But the following morning, my arms, legs and tummy all felt noticeably more toned.
And, while I ached a little after two days, it was no more than I’d expect to feel after a solid workout.
For any busy person, it’s worth the short blast of discomfort.
At £75 a sesh, it’s not cheap option – but considering you are paying to be pushed to your limit and efficiency, which is well worth the dosh.
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Words by Amy Sharpe