WIRED: Viwe Ndongeni at Bodytec Sunset Beach. Bodytec is the original and most experienced EMS training provider in SA. There are 30 studios nationally and they offer free nutritional advice. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane
Spending only 20 minutes exercising at the gym once a week sounds too good to be true, but with Bodytec that’s all the time you need.

This strength training is based on electro muscle stimulation (EMS) and is gaining in popularity across the country.

Television personalities Anele Mdoda and Ewan Strydom have already taken it up.

One of its main drawing points is that sessions take just 20 minutes, which is claimed to equate to hours of conventional strength training in a gym.

The EMS training techno- logy is said to build muscle strength, while reducing fat content and weight.

According to Mark Herd, owner of Bodytec at Sunset Beach in Cape Town, stimulating the body with electronic vibration has been around for years.

In earlier years before the invention of electricity, people used electric eels to stimulate their muscles.

EMS was pioneered by Russian medical researchers during the 1950s. Initially it was mostly used in the medical field, before German company MiHa Bodytec started applying EMS in professional sports to assist in natu- rally enhanced performance and the rehabilitation of injuries.

After the first non-commercial options became available, EMS was widely adopted in Germany.

South Africa's first Bodytec studio opened in Cape Town in 2010. Today there are 30 studios nationally.

I visited Herd’s studio to try out a 20-minute Bodytec training session.

Sessions are arranged by appointment and you are only permitted to have one training partner with a personal trainer to ensure that you are doing the exercise right at the correct levels.

The trainer first sits with you to get more information about your fitness routine and lifestyle.

Before we got very far with the questions, I felt the need to declare that I had not been to a gym in years. I have not had the discipline to commit to a full-year gym contract.

He then asked if I had other fitness activities, to which I replied: “I am a regular mountain climber and enjoy adventure training.”

Once that was settled it was time to sweat away for a minute or two. I felt I was being plugged into the matrix as I made my way to the machine.

Once you’re geared up, stripped up and the electric pulse starts charging through your body, 20 minutes feels like a lifetime.

Halfway through the session, I was ready to call it quits after realising that it was not as easy as it looked.

It required balance, concentration and that was not easy to do with the electro stimulation running through my body.

But once I was done, I stood there beaming and feeling felt like I just climbed Table Mountain in 20 minutes.

My hands were a bit shaky and my legs wobbled as I made my way back to the changeroom.

The personal trainer warned me to anticipate pain on the days that would follow.

“You will feel like you have found muscles in parts of your body you didn’t know about. The muscle soreness will confirm you have been good to yourself,” said Herd.

I woke up the next day feeling refreshed with a little stiffness in my muscles the following day, but there was no pain.