Tried & Tested: I tried Electrical Muscle Stimulation as physiotherapy after an accident – here’s why I feel it gets a bad rep

Have you heard of it?

A Marie Claire staffer tries EMS Training

Have you heard of it?

How many fad diets, quick-fix gym classes and cure-all supplements have you heard of that promise to boost your fitness, metabolism, and more? Answer: probably a lot, but thankfully, in 2022, we know to be sceptical about panaceas - health is about building a body for life and a routine that you love and enjoy, after all.

That's where EMS training comes in - a brand new fitness trend and style of training liked by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Tom Holland. The catch? It's a super short session - just 20 minutes - that promises to deliver the same results you'd see in a regular 90-minute gym session. How? Well, you wear a specially engineered EMS suit that subtly electric shocks your body while you exercise.

Sure, it sounds a little extreme - but when I was in a freak accident earlier this year and was recommended EMS training as a form of physiotherapy, I was keen to give it a go.

Keep scrolling for my honest review - and why I think that, while it's been given a bad rep, it's definitely worth considering.

EMS Training: "I tried the new fitness trend after a freak accident - it boosted my physical and mental health." 

What is EMS?

First things first: what actually is EMS training? EMS stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation and combined with a workout, it's a method of circuit training that uses electrical impulses to shock your body. These pulses are designed to contract the skeletal striated muscles with targeted precision and can be used for everything from fat loss to boosting fitness levels.

It's a low-impact workout that focuses on weight training, but also allows you to experience a level of high-intensity thanks to the technology.

As above, celebrities and athletes that have been known to use EMS training include Tom Holland and Cristiano Ronaldo, so it's always been something that fascinated me. That said, I never thought to try it until it was recommended as a form of physiotherapy after a recent accident.

A few months ago, a freak accident left the right side of my body temporarily paralyzed from the waist up. I couldn't even type without the words looking like ancient Latin script (a journalist that couldn't type? Ironic).

Doctors told me that my core muscles had been compromised and weren't sending the right signals to my limbs. I had to re-teach my muscles the basic form of a grip, and when doing so, my doctor mentioned that EMS had been used by physiotherapists for years to help with similar cases.

So I headed to Kensington-based E-Pulsive to try their private EMS training session to help get my body back to its healthier form while also gaining a better understanding of the science behind it.

A photo posted by on

What does an EMS session look like?

Good question. First things first, you get put into the EMS suit featuring wireless electrodes. These are activated by cold water sprays (prepare to look like of Lara Croft). Your trainer will then start with warm up exercises - the electric pulses at this point are set on a low level.

As the session progresses and the training continues, the pulses are ramped up making sure to target every part of your body.

I worked with E-Pulsive personal trainer Nathalia Naseri who created a bespoke routine for me to improve my weakened muscles. "We worked to focus on improving the cardio system," she explains. "This strengthened Humaa's muscles, ultimately bringing back lost agility. EMS training is all about helping to manage and improve everything inside your body, versus focusing on how it looks on the outside."

So, how often did I train? I did two EMS sessions a week for two months, working both the upper and lower body so as to not put too much strain on my injured top half. Surprisingly, I noticed my grip getting stronger after only four sessions. I'd repeatedly dropped the small grip strengthener balls the first few times I held them, so it was really motivating to see such quick progress.

As my sessions went on, I realised that the workout is about so much more than just building your physical strength - it was boosting my mental strength, too. Showcasing this was one of the reasons why E-Pulsive co-founders Eladio De Leon and Mario Kaspers wanted to bring the German technique to London.

EMS Training kit, photographed at the E-pulsive gym in London

The EMS Training kit I used, photographed at the E-pulsive gym by Humaa

So, what were my final thoughts on EMS Training? 

As someone who has always been very active and worked out four times a week, not being able to do much after my accident really lowered my self-esteem. But heading to E-Pulsive and trying their EMS training didn't feel like heading to a strenuous physiotherapy appointment - quite the opposite, and I genuinely really enjoyed it.

While it won't be for everyone and can be effective if you have one-to-one sessions, if you've been in an accident like me, it's the most fun physiotherapy I've ever tried. Similarly, if you're a busy CEO who has limited hours in the day, it's a great way to squeeze in a short-yet-effective session (plus you don't have to do loads to see your strength improving).

It often gets a bad rep as it's seen as a quick-fix weight loss tool. While it can be used for that, for me, it was so much more than that - it helped me get my strength and confidence back.

After the two months were up, not only had it aided my muscle rehabilitation but really boosted my self-esteem, too. The trainers made it so fun, and I enjoyed working with Nathalia so much that I looked forward to every class. I knew that they'd make me feel physically strong, but mentally strong, too.

E-pulsive offers a range of price options, starting at £20 per session. For more info and details on how to book at their South Kensington location or their new studio collaboration with Studio Society in West Hampstead, head to the E-Pulsive website.

The leading destination for fashion, beauty, shopping and finger-on-the-pulse views on the latest issues. Marie Claire's travel content helps you delight in discovering new destinations around the globe, offering a unique – and sometimes unchartered – travel experience. From new hotel openings to the destinations tipped to take over our travel calendars, this iconic name has it covered.