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Powered exercise:
the gentle way to start toning up

August 2017

Picture credit: Shapemaster

A fitness company offering a whole range of toning tables has opened near us. Toning is a word we probably heard in our youth and it seems to be coming back into fashion. But what does it really mean?

In the 1940s toning really referred to keeping your body trim and your muscles fit, but in those days it was definitely not used to cover vigorous exercise. Toning then was mainly for the gentler sex, to keep women looking good and in shape but without any reference to sweaty really vigorous exercise.

In a way, the meaning hasn’t changed a lot. The big difference today though is that sophisticated machinery has been developed so that people can “tone up” – or exercise their muscles – in their own home or in a salon without exhausting the whole body.

This is usually done sitting or lying down on special tables or chairs which offer powered assisted movements to specific muscle groups in the body. The different tables can lift your legs, or gently pummel the lower body, or offer cycling resistance while you lie on your back.

The big key on toning tables and chairs is that they can work specific muscles that are not used regularly in everyday life. For instance, with a waist/tummy/hip machine, you lie face down and the machine alternately lifts and lowers the legs up behind you over 600 times for 10 minutes, the usual time of a session.

There is a huge range of different equipment out there and to get a good idea of what it is all about, Laterlife found the following video which gives a good demonstration:

With power assistance, you really can get started on exercising key muscles in your body without causing to much stress elsewhere. Most equipment can be used very gently, letting the machinery do most of the work, or more actively to make you put in more effort.

They are low impact on the rest of the body, so they can be especially useful for people in rehabilitation following an injury, or people who have some specific physical or mobility restrictions.

Certainly a toning table won’t offer a cardiovascular workout or burn loads of calories for weight loss. However, to provide a gentle workout to get started in a new fitness campaign, or to start targeting a set of muscles that has been ignored for years, they really can be very useful.

There are also additional “toning tables” on offer that provide various things like vibration...a machine that gently massages the entire body to help increase blood circulation.

One good aspect of toning tables is that you don’t have to wear special clothing, or embarrass yourself in front of others in a big fitness class or even in a public gym. It is all very quiet and individual, and the machines can be set to the level you find most comfortable.

As toning becomes fashionable again, it is today often being described as “powered exercise” which probably is a better description.

You can buy toning tables for your own home, and some offer a variety of exercises from just one machine. However, the commercial toning salons that are opening up around the country will usually have a large range of equipment to provide a much better choice of exercises, plus they will have trained staff to ensure you are using them properly and gaining the best benefits for your specific situation.

Looking on line, you should be able to find a toning salon near you. Shapemaster is one of the leaders in toning equipment in this country, and they have lots of good information on their website plus they have even developed a special 30 minute circuit on their Easytone range which is perfect for seniors or those coming back to exercise after a long gap.

Here's a map showing accredited centres offering their equipment.

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