Pro Vitae in downtown Vancouver helps people shake up fitness regimens

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 

For more information

• Pro Vitae Vibration Studio, 522 W. Eighth St. in Vancouver, visit www.provitae.net or call 360-524-0980.

• Victor Fitness Systems, 5601 E. 18th St. Suite 308 in Vancouver, visit www.victorfitnesssystems.com or call 360-750-0815.

photoVancouver residents Tara Sandvig, left, and Kari Muhlhauser work out on whole-body vibration machines at Pro Vitae Vibration Studio in downtown Vancouver Monday. Some research has shown whole-body vibration may improve muscle strength and help with weight loss.

(/The Columbian)

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Some Clark County residents say they've found a new way to lose extra pounds, tone muscles and relieve pain: jiggling.

Or, to be more precise, vibrating.

Since the Pro Vitae Vibration Studio opened in downtown Vancouver in July, hundreds of people have tried the business' whole-body vibration machines. And many are touting a range of results after vibrating for as little as 10 minutes a day.

"It helps with everything for me," Vancouver resident Kari Muhlhauser said. "I feel better immediately."

The 45-year-old has multiple sclerosis and finds that 20 to 30 minutes of whole-body vibration daily helps with her fatigue, allows her to sleep better and has toned her arms and legs.

Most often, whole-body vibration involves standing on a vibrating platform with handles attached to it. People using the machines can perform squats, lunges and other exercises while standing. Some users do push-ups or hold their body in the plank position with their arms on the vibrating plate and their feet on the floor. Others do abdominal exercises while seated on the plate.

The platform produces oscillating vibrations that are delivered to the entire body. The body part closest to the platform receives the greatest amount of vibrations, according to the American Council on Exercise.

As the vibrations travel through the body, muscles are reacting, said Misty DeWitt, owner of Pro Vitae.

"Your body is resisting against the vibrations," she said.

The vibrations are set at a specific frequency and amplitude. The frequency is measure in hertz (Hz) and refers to the number of vibrations per second. For example, at 25 Hz, the targeted muscles will contract and relax 25 times per second.

Depending on the frequency, the machines can massage and stretch muscles, maintain current muscles, strengthen current muscles and stimulate metabolism, and build muscles, DeWitt said. Each client establishes a training program based on their goals, she said.

DeWitt first used a vibration machine in June 2010 while visiting a friend in San Diego. She took a three-day challenge — 10 minutes on the machine for three days — and lost 5 pounds and 7 inches.

"That was really hook, line and sinker," DeWitt said.

After researching the machines and their uses, DeWitt purchased one in January 2012. At the time, she weighed 220 pounds. By September, after just standing on the machine for 10 minutes every day, she had lost 70 pounds.

In July, DeWitt opened Pro Vitae, hoping to share her success with others.

"There's so many people that can benefit by being here," she said.

Battle Ground resident Pat Dixson is one client who says he's benefited from whole-body vibration.

The 48-year-old had grown frustrated with his weight and his inability to drop the extra pounds. He had been running but wasn't losing any weight. He applied for NBC's "The Biggest Loser," but didn't make the cut. At 350 pounds, he started thinking about weight-loss surgery.

Then a friend told him about the vibration studio. He tried it in August and, after two weeks, lost 15 pounds.

Now, Dixson runs 21/2 to three miles along the Columbia River every day and finishes with a session on the vibration machine. He's down 46 pounds and 71 inches.

"It's been awesome," Dixson said.

Benefits not fully clear

Some research has been done on whole-body vibration, but most of the studies have focused on specific uses of the training. Comprehensive research about the training is lacking, according to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. As such, it's not yet clear if whole-body vibration provides the same range of health benefits as other exercise -- such as

walking, biking or swimming — but some research has shown whole-body vibration might improve muscle strength and help with weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Research has also shown whole-body vibration can help reduce back pain, improve balance in older adults and reduce bone loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, the clinic advises people who choose whole-body vibration training to do it in addition to aerobic and strength training activities, not in place of them.

That's how Vancouver personal trainer Bill Victor, owner of Victor Fitness Systems and a regular Columbian blogger, uses the machines with his clients. He said he considers vibration plates a supplement to workouts.

Using the platform while performing other exercises — sit ups, pushups or squats, for example — forces the body to work harder to do the movement, Victor said.

"It's a great training tool," he said.