DOES AN EMS SUIT Burn More Calories At the Gym?

EMS Yoga Nova Fitness Tribeca

It’s not often that I get an offer to shock my body during a yoga session. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone jolting anything just for the fun of it. When I first read the email inviting me to try NOVA Fitness’s latest EMS fueled yoga class, Millgram’s experiment popped into my head. Well, maybe at least they’ll psychologically train me to do the poses harder and longer?

The last time I shocked anything on my body, I promise you it was not for fun. I was training for a half-marathon. I managed to conveniently injure my knee, eventually winding up in the physical therapist’s office with an electrical stimulation machine’s electrodes buzzing the sides of my kneecap. I never thought I’d be strapped to these little electrodes again as part of my fitness regimen.

The Setup

I arrived at the Tribeca location, nervously excited. I’m not sure what I expected, but I looked up the suits before coming and read up on its benefits. I was handed a small wet-suit looking outfit and shown to the changing room fitted with a shower. I’ve gone surfing before, but I forgot how damn hard it is zipping into the tight contraption. Honestly, it felt a little harder because I was extra careful not to tug on any part of the midriff where wires run through.

Upon stepping out, a helpful NOVA Fitness attendant sprayed me down with a bottle of water, explaining it helps conduct electricity. Thoroughly suited and doused, I made my way upstairs to the studio space, where the studio founder, Jackie Wilson, mingled with the guests, announcing the one year anniversary of the studio. I got a little chance to chat with the yoga instructor that evening, Kendra Thomas, who explained she tailored the class specifically to target the muscles around the electrical stimulation points on the suit. AKA, things are going to burn harder in that chair pose.

The Yoga Class

Before we dive into what that burn feels like, let me clarify that this doesn’t come close to taking a regular yoga class. While the yoga teacher was terrific, and I loved her technique, the space wasn’t relaxing, and it made the yoga feel like a regular circuit workout in yoga form. It was yoga on steroids, quickly flowing from pose to pose with push-ups in between. I was sweating about 7 minutes in. I’m not going to lie, I wondered when the class would end at least 15 times in the short 30 minutes. It was TOUGH.

Unfortunately, my suit didn’t work for the first 15 minutes of the workout. So, I signaled one of the instructors in charge of controlling the electrical shocks to my suit. Yup, you’ll have someone monitoring your suit with an iPad next to you. It’s a personalized form of torture. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised when the shocks started. It didn’t feel exactly like it did when I had it on my knee during PT. These were tingling waves that were a mix of pleasant distraction and a little bit of an extra burn during the poses. The suit delivers up to 40 muscle contractions per second, making the sensation flow in buzzing waves.

Was it Worth It?

By the time the class was over, I was drenched and ready for a shower. Whether I burned extra calories, thanks to the suit or not, I knew this was more akin to a circuit session than a typical yoga class. As I walked up the stairs from the changing room, my thighs burned!

I’m not as fit as I used to be, but I don’t remember the last time yoga made my legs burn like this. After all, I’m a New Yorker, and I’m no stranger to clocking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. The fact that I had trouble on the steps signaled something was definitely working.

While the personal training classes are on the pricier side at $150 per session, you can take classes for only $35. And if you’re a newcomer, your trial personal training session is only $50! That’s one of the best deals in the city.