The latest fitness fad has us literally buzzing. Vibrating tools—and exercise classes—promise added benefits to your typical workout and recovery routine, and they're only growing more popular.
Warning: These good vibrations don't come cheap.
Best for Immediate Soreness Relief: TheraGun G2PRO
Don't think you're about to get a calming massage when you pick up the TheraGun. Using this device feels more like being lightly punched 40 times per second.
Inventor Jason S. Wersland is a chiropractor who created the tool as a portable treatment device for his patients. He says the unique amplitude and frequency work to override pain signals in the brain, allowing you to achieve the equivalent of a deep tissue massage without the deep tissue discomfort.
It's an intense experience that's already grown popular with professional athletes. We can see why: When testing it out, we found that it temporarily reduced soreness pretty significantly, providing serious relief for at least an hour or two.
The downside? It's about as loud as a power drill—not exactly appropriate for the rehearsal studio or backstage. It's also a serious investment, with a $599 price tag.
Best for After-Rehearsal Recovery: Hyperice Vyper
The Hyperice Vyper leaves your muscles humming
This tool combines vibration with traditional foam rolling to relax the muscles as you roll out. It's less of a rapid punch to the muscles, and more like a continuous shake. (But beware that it can bounce away from you if you're not careful when you release your weight from it.)
Hyperice claims the specifically-designed vibrations help to release fascia, relax muscles and increase circulation. One study—partially funded by Hyperice—found that vibrating foam rollers improve range of motion more than traditional rollers. Starts at $199.
Best for Making Squats & Lunges More Fun: Power Plate
Whole-body vibration platforms like Power Plate aren't meant for massage—they're a workout accessory. You need to be doing exercises like squats and tricep dips on top of it while it shakes your full body to reap the rewards.
These platforms have been around long enough to build up a meaty body of research backing their benefits, from decreased muscle soreness to increased heart rate recovery. Our own study found conclusive evidence that they make boring exercises like squats and lunges a whole lot more challenging—and fun.
Yet with prices ranging from $1,495 to $14,995, these machines are more likely to be found at the gym than in dancers' private homes.
Best for Crazy Instagram Pics: Electric Muscle Stimulation Workout
Doing lunges while your whole body shakes definitely kicks things up a notch. Photo by Chris Fanning.
Classes at the New York City boutique studio Shock Therapy deck out every participant in their own "power suit." The vest and shorts-like combo is studded with electrodes that send pulses of vibrations to cause your muscles to contract. (Imagine a bigger version of the e-stim squares your physical therapist might stick on your muscles at the end of a session to increase blood flow.)
Shockwaves from the suit amp up basic workout moves like jumping jacks and bicep curls during a half hour–long class, led by an avatar that demonstrates what to do while the live instructor controls the intensity of the electrical impulses.
The classes—which first grew popular in Europe—supposedly condense three hours' worth of exercise into 30 minutes. Of course, bold claims like that always make us skeptical. But for anyone willing to drop $55 on a half-hour workout, it's definitely an experience you'll remember long after your sore muscles recover.