Fitness

Work Out in This Weird Full-Body Suit at Impulse Boston

Coming to Back Bay in August, the franchise fitness studio utilizes Electric Muscle Stimulation technology to help you build muscle and get stronger faster.


electric muscle stimulation

Photo provided

Get ready to sweat. A new fitness studio is coming to Back Bay on August 19 and it requires that you slide into a full-body suit, closely resembling a wet suit, to partake in the class.

The studio is called Impulse and it’s popping up on Clarendon Street for six months, sharing studio space with Barre Method. What makes this fitness franchise different is that it utilizes Electric Muscle Stimulation technology during all of its classes. Electric Muscle Stimulation, or EMS, delivers electric pulses directly to your muscles, causing them to contract and relax. Since the full-body suit you’re required to wear is administering the pulses, and is basically doing a lot of the work for you, the best part about the whole thing is that classes are only 25 minutes.

Don’t worry, I was a little skeptical at first, too. But the research is there, showing that electrical stimulation can affect muscle size, tone, and strength. A relatively new technology in the fitness space, EMS is typically administered to muscles during rehab or recovery from injury, like in the Boston-made device BeWellConnect’s MyTens. But studies have shown that EMS is also effective in improving physical performance and building muscle faster.

So what should you expect when you come in for a session? Luisa Zaragoza, owner of the Boston studio, explains the workout starts with a five minute warm-up. And this is really important, because she says the suit doesn’t work unless the body is warm and you’re sweating a little bit. After the five-minute warm-up, the meat and potatoes of the session only lasts 15 minutes. During that time you’ll perform low-intensity exercises like planks, squats, or push-ups and you’ll use light weights and medicine balls. But don’t forget: The whole time, your suit is sending electric stimulation to your butt, legs, arms, abs, and lower back.

“When the suit is turned on, it’s like a tingling sensation all over your body,” Zaragoza tells me. “It’s as if you’re being hugged or compressed constantly, mixed with the tingling, but you don’t feel pain at all. During each exercise, it will feel a little different, and when you’re standing, you’ll feel it much more. When you take it off, you’re absolutely drenched in sweat.”

Classes range in size from 7-14 people at at a time and a battery pack is placed on your hip to power the suit, which is connected by Bluetooth to the instructor’s iPad. Through the iPad, the instructor is able to increase or decrease the intensity of the stimulation based on your fitness level and personal preference.

Most people start at a pretty low percentage of stimulation, Zaragoza explains, and go up from there. People with more muscle, or who are more physically fit, will be able to handle a stronger stimulation. But the best part of the suit is that everyone looks the same. “No one feels out of place, or that their outfit isn’t perfect,” Zaragoza says. “Which makes it a little less intimidating.”

Everyone who participates at the Boston pop-up will be required to purchase the suit, retailing for $250, and it can be used at any Impulse location. Currently, Impulse has locations in Miami, Texas, Mexico, Peru, with a new one coming to Madrid. The suit will last about a year and a half, depending on how many times you wash it. Zaragoza recommends hand-washing it only once a week and spraying it with disinfectant spray.

If that seems like a heavy lift for you, Impulse will also be offering free trial classes so you can see if it’s the right fit before buying the suit and class packages. You’ll have the option of three different classes including strength, cardio, and flexibility. At the end of the six-month pop-up, Zaragoza is hoping the Boston community latches onto the concept. She has hopes to open a permanent location in the Seaport. If you’re on the fence, she says no amount of explanation can do it justice: You just have to try it for yourself.

Opening on August 19 at 234 Clarendon Street on the 3rd Floor. For more information, visit the studio’s Instagram page. A website for rates and booking is coming soon.

electric muscle stimulation

Photo provided