PHOTO: A client trains with electrical muscle stimulation at Manduu in Cool Springs on Monday, September 10, 2018. / Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
When the Austrian-based electrical muscle stimulation method Manduu first came to the United States, studios opened in Santa Monica and Miami.
Jason Ritzen heard of the concept from a friend and laughed at the claims that a 15-minute workout was equivalent to 6-8 hours in the gym.
“I went to the studio [in Miami] with the attitude that I’m going to break this machine,” he said. Instead, the machine broke him.
Immediately after the workout, Ritzen said he had an extreme runner’s high. A day later, “I was sore all over, and I was in very good shape, so I knew I had done something significant,” he said.
He consulted with a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, looking for the downside to the stimulation his muscles had received. “He said, ‘Not only is it not bad for you, it is good for you,'” Ritzen said.
Now, Ritzen owns both of Tennessee’s Manduu studios; the Franklin location opened last summer, while another in Brentwood opened this spring. Yet another is slated to open this fall in Green Hills.
Ritzen recruited his friend Wiley Robinson, founder of Robinson Taekwondo Academy, certified trainer and nurse with a degree in molecular biology, as a trainer and chief operating officer.
“This is a science-based, clinical technology,” Robinson said of the technology.
Indeed, the idea of targeted electrical stimulation, like a TENS unit, for muscle strengthening and recovery is well-accepted in the exercise science community.
The benefit of full-body stimulation methods like Manduu is the low impact on joints and deep penetration to muscle fibers, which makes it especially ideal for middle-aged adults. Ritzen said their average client is over the age of 40, with a 60-40 split slightly favoring women.
Robinson called the workouts “infinitely scaleable,” noting one female client who is 92.
While Ritzen says Manduu is the only FDA-certified EMS technology of its kind, other European models have also been introduced in the U.S.
Inside the Cool Springs office, specialists with 40-60 hours of training under their belts lead exercisers through the ropes.
First, participants will strip down inside a changing room, donning a cotton top and leggings to stand on an inBody machine for a body composition analysis.
Then, they will move to the exercise room, slipping into a wet vest and pants with electrical units attached; the water helps conduct electricity better, and is completely safe.
Trainers take exercisers through a three minute warm-up, before beginning a 12-minute workout with bodyweight squats, bicep curls and cross-body movements. It’s four seconds of stimulation and movement, then four seconds of rest.
Afterwards, the trainer will break down their body scan, which measures body fat, skeletal muscle, water and lean mass, as well as the important visceral fat measure, which plays heavily into morbidity rates. Over time, clients can compare their data, watching numbers move on a chart.
Robinson recommends 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week in addition to Manduu sessions, and low-impact activities like yoga. Though there’s less of a focus on foods, he advocates for a balanced diet with limited intake of sugars and alcohol and moderate to high protein consumption.
Enthusiasts can purchase sessions by the package; 15 sessions cost $59 each, while a 60-session package evens out to $39 each.
And, Ritzen said, those who may be hesitant to try it can come in for a free evaluation and session.
Both men believe utilizing the technology for this type of high-intensity exercise is the key to longer, healthier lives.
“We’re just scratching the surface right now,” Robinson said.
Watch our Facebook Live session for a peek into what you can expect.