Electronic muscle stimulation makes shocking comeback in fitness

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- At Manduu in Santa Monica Jason Hickey is putting me through a 15-minute workout that is a real shocker.

"You wear a full body suit, you do full body workout. You get 85 to 100 contractions per second. It's really great for resistance training and for fat loss," said Hickey, owner of Manduu.

Hickey claims your muscles can't tell the difference between an actual contraction or one that's manipulated by the machine.

"It's a higher frequency, so more hertz and a higher pulse width, which is basically the depth of contraction, cuts into your skin," said Hickey.

The sensation is shocking but hand grips help you contract more. Hickey monitors the controls, but you decide how hard or light you want your workout. Professional snowboarder and surfer Lauren Abraham has been at it for three months and is killing it.

"I've had 11 surgeries to my body and I can do Manduu. I feel like this is the ultimate training," said Abraham.

The one thing you'll want to know is that you still have to do the work in order to burn fat. You get muscle stimulation but the cardio falls to you.

But Dr. Andrew Pritikin says while you might feel a contraction, it's actually doing very little.

"For that impulse to be strong enough to strengthen a muscle, it has to be so high. It would double you over and probably blow out a disc," Pritikin said.

EMS is used in physical therapy for stroke patients and others who have a disease that causes muscles to atrophy. Pritikin, however, says the science just isn't there yet.

A Manduu workout is roughy $80 a session. As always, there are those who shouldn't try.

"One hundred percent nos are pregnant. Diabetics okay. Pacemaker no, epilepsy no. Any metal in your chest cavity no," said Hickey.
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