Those of us who didn’t have the benefit of an army of personal trainers and nutritionists tried clever tricks and rebranded our dull, pale, portly Dad Bod physiques. But who were we kidding when fit fiftysomethings like George Clooney, Gary Lineker and Paul Rudd proved that age is no longer an excuse?
So here we are, in the middle of a heat wave, preparing the beaches and the swimming pools, bathing suits ready, in the throes of anxiety because it is time to have a beach body, an arduous task at any time in life, but especially terrifying for those over 50.
At least that’s how I felt when my wife informed me that she had booked a vacation in Croatia that only gave me a few short weeks to sort myself out. I was luckier than some. I go to the gym regularly and keep myself in shape but, like many older men, I’m defeated by real ale and chocolate. Unfortunately, no matter how many miles you’ve driven, you can’t outrun poor nutrition. But, with a few nifty tricks and tips, can you temporarily outsmart it? That’s when I decided to get into it. Face, body, the works. Bring it on…
The fat cutter
So here I am at Vive Fitness, in the heart of central London, tied up in rubber, using a space-age exercise system called Miha Bodytec Full Body Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS), touted as a “method of very effective and fast training to increase strength and muscle mass while simultaneously reducing body fat”.
The comfortable EMS vest is dotted with electrode pads that adapt to major muscle groups in the chest, stomach, upper and lower back; participants also wear straps fitted with electrodes around the glutes (buttocks), thighs, and upper arms.
The entire system is connected to wires which are supplied with current from the control console via the electrical umbilical cord, and each electrode delivers pulsed electrical stimulation to the muscles against which it is pressed, causing them to contract.
The stronger the electrical impulse, the harder the muscle works. Everything is controlled by a personal trainer, who guides the participant through a series of individual exercises, controlling the intensity of the contractions according to their abilities.
The result is a short, intense and targeted muscle workout without any strain on the joints or tendons. For this reason, the system is a good option for seniors and anyone with non-muscle injuries. In Germany, where it was developed, there are more than 2,000 EMS studios.
Fraser Smith, co-founder and COO of Vive Fitness, is my personal trainer for the session. He explains the benefits for people who want to get in shape but don’t have the time or inclination to hit the gym every day.