Working out for less time than an episode of Project Runway and still achieving amazing results sounds like a dream, right? So when I was asked to try EMS training, the workout that promises 90 minutes worth of results in a 20-minute workout, you can imagine my interest.
For those unfamiliar, EMS training stands for electro-muscle stimulation, a special type of strength training in which brief shocks stimulate your muscles while you follow a customized workout program. The result is a high-intensity workout in just 20 minutes.
Fu/nis is Auckland’s only EMS training studio. There are two locations; Shortland Street in the city, which has been open since 2016, and Takapuna, which opened in 2021.
“You should totally do it,” squealed my friend when I told her about it. “I’ve been going to fu/nis for months and have seen amazing results.”
The Fu/nis Experience
Not one to turn down the promise of amazing results, I headed across the bridge to Takapuna. As I walked through the glass doors, I knew I had made the right decision. The studio was light and airy and decorated with contemporary furniture. It was an inviting space that charmed the senses, and as I took it all in, I was offered a cool glass of mint or lemon-infused water.
I’m greeted by Catrina Kuehler, the founder of fu/nis. Catrina tells me that she has been into EMS training since 2010 when, while living in Germany, she realised that her workouts were no longer giving her the results she wanted. Her search for more effective exercise led her to EMS. Catrina told me she was so impressed with the experience that when her family relocated to Auckland, she decided to open her own studio.
Before we went into my fitness goals, I wanted to learn more about what I should expect from the fu/nis experience. With EMS, Catrina explained, you have your own personal trainer who can motivate you, tweak your posture, and push you that little bit harder.
“If that trainer then uses EMS technology like us, it’s a match made in heaven,” she said. “The training is not only faster but can be even more effective than conventional training.”
What drives Catrina is EMS’ ability to make an immediate positive difference in people who have not been living their best lives for a long time.
“Changing something small like adding a 20-minute workout once a week is manageable, and then many are adding slowly and steadily other forms of exercise like walking to swimming back into their routines,” she tells me with a bright smile. “It’s like making an atomic change to get started. I’m very grateful for being able to support a healthier lifestyle for many people now with our training and team.”
After a questionnaire about my general health, we moved on to my expectations from the workouts: Increased strength, a little leftover lockdown weight, and improved health. My measurements are taken down, and I’m given a set of lycra workout gear to put on. That’s one of the great things about fu/nis: everything you need is provided. No more lugging a gym bag into the office or forgetting a sports bra. With fu/nis, you don’t even need to wear a bra (a crazy concept for working out, right?)
Before heading into the changing rooms, I ask Catrina what I should expect from the experience. She tells me that it is unique to everyone and varies from person to person depending on your challenge threshold and general physique.
“Each client is unique, and so is their training with us,” she says. “I love that about the training, as it makes it unique and all about you. It removes all comparison and worries of ‘I am not as strong as someone else.’ Because in the end, it’s what you take away.”
“Does it hurt?” I ask a little nervously.
“Some describe it as a deep tissue massage, some as a strong tickle,” she tells me. “Over the course of your session, the feeling will change too.”
I take my gear and head into the changing rooms. Like the main studio, they are bright and airy and stocked with all the beauty products you might need — and would expect — from a high-end member’s gym.
EMS Training Put to the Test
Changed and ready, I’m back in the main studio and quickly strapped into the tech by my trainer Selena, including a life jacket-like vest and a thick belt around my glutes. Everything is soaked with warm water so the conductive electricity can flow between you and the machine you’re hooked up to.
As soon as the machine started, I felt the electrical current throughout my body; it almost felt like I was gently vibrating.
Selena explained that while electrical stimulation aids muscle engagement, muscles must be clenched for the best results when the current is applied. And while it was initially a shock (no pun intended), thanks to Selena’s guidance, I settled into the rhythm. We worked through a resistance set of exercises that included lunges, squats, arm exercises and crunches.
After the session, I was sweating, and my muscles were tired, akin to how they would feel if they had been working out for longer than 20 minutes. I wouldn’t have thought it possible if I hadn’t experienced it for myself. The next day, I was sore. And I mean sore. I knew I had worked out, and it felt good.
Two days later, I was back in the Takapuna studio for my next session. This time, I knew what to expect. For this session, I was working with a different trainer, Mel. She turned up the dial and guided me through another mix of squats, crunches, and mat exercises. Once again, after 20 minutes, I was exhausted. And completely hooked on EMS training.
After five weeks of attending bi-weekly sessions, it was time for my weight-in and measurements. I was delighted to learn that I lost 4 kgs. But it wasn’t just about the weight loss — I felt stronger, leaner, and overall much happier with my health and fitness levels from when I first started.
In our initial meeting, Catrina told me that the biggest misconception about EMS training is that 20 minutes can’t be enough to get a good workout. But, she continues, it “creates a super clean contraction of up to 90% of your muscle fibres, whereas, in conventional training, you’re usually only able to recruit around 30-40% of your muscles.”
My experience taught me that with fu/nis training, 20 minutes really is enough to achieve the results you want.
If you’re looking for a fitness routine that will challenge you without challenging your time, then I strongly recommend you contact Catrina and the fu/nis team.
This article was produced in partnership with fu/nis.
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